Wednesday 24 Jul, 2019

Mater Dei Cathedral Church Calicut

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3007mater dei cathedr

About the church
‘Matri Dei Cathedral’, also known as ‘Mother of God Cathedral’, is situated in Calicut, the place where the Portuguese sailor Vasco Da Gama landed in 1498. Matri Dei Church is the Cathedral parish of the Diocese of Calicut. A cathedral is the principal church of a Bishop's diocese, containing the Episcopal throne. Tradition attributes a long antiquity to Mother of God Cathedral in Calicut. The Cathedral serves as a "model Church for all Parish Churches" in the style and content of its ritual celebrations. The History of this church affords an example of permutation of the early Catholics of the Region, which emerged as a result of evangelization work done by Portuguese Missionaries, in their struggle to build suitable accommodation for their spiritual gatherings. In 1513 A.D, a treaty was concluded between the Portuguese and the Zamorin of Calicut by which the Raja allowed the Portuguese to erect a Factory (Feitoria) at Calicut. A Chapel dedicated to Matre de Deo was attached to this Factory. It is believed to have housed a stone Cross struck in bas relief on granite with a Portuguese inscription. This stone Cross, worshiped by the thousands every day, was installed in the Holy Cross Chapel, attached to the Matre de Deo's Church, established several years ago. Today this church stands as a symbol of eternity.

About the name

‘Mater Dei’ is Latin for ‘Mother of God’, referring to the Virgin Mary as ‘Theotokos’. It is a compound of two Greek words. The prefix "Theo" means God and the word "tokos" means "carrier or bearer in the womb" (birth mother). The English term ‘Mother of God’ is mostly used as an imprecise translation of ‘Theotokos’. The term has been used to name various institutions, often Catholic.

About the past        

The European search for a new sea route to India to reach Calicut, the spice trading port of call on the Malabar Coast, succeeded by the arrival of Vasco da Gama of Portugal in 1498 at Calicut reroute round the cape of good hope at the southern peninsula of Africa. This has marked the European Era in the Indian Ocean. Also, heralded an era of evangelization of Malabar Coast in the territory of the Diocese of Calicut. The missionary work was initiated by Padre Pedro de Covilham, a Trinitarian monk who accompanied Vasco da Gama and his entourage. In the course of his noble labour he met with death in the hands of enemies and became the first martyr of the Diocese. A plaque was installed in commemoration of his 400th death anniversary in 1998 at the Madre de Deus Cathedral of the Diocese of Calicut.

In 1500, Captain Pedro Alvarez Cabral came to Calicut, accompanied by one Vicar, 8 secular priests and 8 Franciscans. They were allowed to preach the gospel and they built a Chapel near the Portuguese Factory at Calicut under the leadership of Friar Henry of Coimbra. The Fathers could not carry on their work, because of the hostile conditions prevailed in Calicut. In 1513, Afonso de Albuquerque, then Governor of Portuguese Asia, decided to favour Calicut at the expense of Cochin and Kannur. The Zamorin who had been much impressed by the conquest of Goa by the Portuguese declared his willingness to grant a site for a fortress at the port town of Calicut. Albuquerque, who was keen to the Portuguese supremacy in Kerala Coast, soon signed a definitive Treaty of Friendship and Peace with Zamorin on 24th December 1513.
The Portuguese soon received permission to build a port at Calicut. Its construction was immediately undertaken and placed under the charge of Thomas Fernandez, the master builders. A church was also constructed in it and the port was dedicated to Virgin Mary of Immaculate Conception. The erection of this port and church in the Western model was the beginning of a new era in the Catholic formation of Calicut Diocese.

In 1597 the Zamorin of Calicut, who were well known for their hospitality, was prepared for a strong alliance with the Portuguese and the Zamorin on his part gave faculty to preach the Gospel in his territory, promised that the churches would be built at his own expenses and that the Fathers of the Society of Jesus who eventually would be sent to him would be treated with all consideration. At the insistence of Archbishop Alexis Menezis, the architect of the Synod of Diamper, the Zamorin constructed a spacious church at his own expenses in the port area church and given to the Fathers of the Society of Jesus in 1599. Later on the 4th March 1724 a Portuguese man of war called Mater de Deos anchored in the Calicut roads, and its commander Pedro Guedes de Magalhaens, affected a treaty on behalf of Pedro Mascurenhas the Portuguese Viceroy and Captain General of India, with the Zamorin in the presence of Mons. Andre Molandin, Chief of the French Territory at Mahe who become surety for the execution of the treaty. By this the Zamorin undertook, the erection of a Church of stone and mortar with a parochial house, vestry, porch and a belfry having a bell weighing 150 lbs. This treaty was engrossed on a copper plate, which was in the possession of the Portuguese Government at Goa. As per the Treaty the Zamorin completed the Madre de Deus Church in 1725 and the ruler of Calicut granted a garden in perpetuity for the support of the church. This church became the Cathedral of the Diocese of Calicut when it was erected in the year 1923.

How to reach 

The cathedral is located in the heart of the Calicut city. Even though, it is far enough from the madding city crowds providing a silent and peaceful atmosphere. 
By road
The church is situated 1.5 km from the ‘Mofusil Bus Stand’. Buses towards beach side will get you to the church, which is near the ‘Old Corporation Office’ bus stop.
By train
Calicut railway station is the nearest railway station which is about 1.5 km apart. 

By air
Calicut international airport, at Karippur, is situated 28 km away from the city. 

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