Holy Sindhu Yatra Matha Devalayam
Believe it, Vizhinjam was once the capital of Aye Kings during Sangam period. Nanjin Valluvas had settled in the north of Naji Nadu and Aye Kings had established their Kingdom in the north of Nanjin Valluvas’ settlement.
Till the fifth century, Aye Kings' capital was near Kuttalam. Following Pandyas’ conquest of that place, Aye kingdom shifted to places such as Thiruvattar and Vizhinjam.
The area between North of Vizhinjam and places near Kollam was known as Venad region and Aye Kings had later made Vizhinjam their capital.
Ever since the Portuguese entered India in the early part of the 14th century, Vizhinjam started finding place again in the annals of history.
Vizhinjam is a place solemnized by the touch of St Francis' feet. Some historians have noted that St Francis himself had baptized many at Vizhinjam.
Malabar Province under Eesho church was founded in 1601. As per the instructions of Provincial, Fr Andrews Lopez has mentioned about church related activities of priests. Most part of the missionary activities in India was carried out by priests from Eesho church.
Vizhinjam (Brijam) was an affiliate of Raithora (Valiyathura) bishops’ house. Under the duress of Portugal Prime Minister Pombal in 1758, Eesho church was shut down in Portugal and its colonies.
In 1773 Pope Clement XIV closed down the Esho church completely. This was a major setback to missionary activities in India, which had reached its pinnacle by then.
Historical treaties say Vizhinjam church was one of the bishop houses that existed at that time.
In 1838, Pope Gregory XIV through his sacred writing starting Multa Pracelare, stopped Kochi-Kodungallur dioceses under Padroado administration and all churches under these dioceses were brought under the administration of Varappuzha vicar Appoythalikka.
But all churches engaged in missionary activities led by priests hailing from Goa were retained in Padroado administration. Those churches lied in areas between Thumba and Erayumanthurai. In 1858, Pope Pius IX, on a temporary basis, allowed these priests to take over the administrative power from Goa Metropolitan. A permanent treatise was made in 1886.
Kochi diocese that had been dismantled was revived. Churches between Pallithurai to Erayumanthurai came under Kochi diocese. These churches were attached to Thiruvananthapuram diocese in 1952. Vizhinjam church was one of the churches that firmly stayed under Padroado administration.
In 1875, Portuguese renovated the church at Vizhinjam they had built along with the ones in Kochi, Kollam and Tamil Nadu coastal areas.
Beliefs about Vizhinjam church
A group of Portuguese men were once travelling east in a boat through Vizhinjam sea. A sudden hail and storm that occurred at that time spelt doom for the sea travellers and they found their life was at peril. Ship crew and travellers started shivering out of fear in that cold weather condition. Then they knelt down in front of Virgin Mary's idol which was there in the boat. They started praying in alarm, making offerings and promises to the Goddess. They promised to float the idol on the sea and build a church where the idol would finally go and rest. They then placed the idol in a casket and let it float on the sea wave. Soon there was a glow inside the boat. The sea and weather became calm.
It is said that the casket with the idol came near several banks along the coastal area and when the believers went to touch that, it moved away from them. Finally, it came and rested along the sea shore near Vizhinjam church. At that time, the church bells started ringing continuously, evoking awe and devotion from the people. Hearing the clanging bell, people near the church came to the sea shore, took the idol and installed it in the Vizhinjam church.
Thus the church was named Sindhu Yatra Matha to denote that Virgin Mary in the church is the mother who will bless people taking sea route to travel.
Kottappuram Sindhu Yatra Matha Devalayam
The idea to build a new church was suggested in 1945 by priests and believers as they found that the old church was not sufficient for their future spiritual activities. On May 1, 1949, the foundation stone for the new church was laid on Kottappuram hill.
As Vizhinjam church came under Kochi diocese, Kochi Metropolitan Right Dr Jose Viyera Alvarez performed the foundation stone laying ceremony.
In 1952 (under Padroado administration) Vizhinjam parish under Kochi diocese was attached to Thiruvananthapuram diocese.
Sindhu Yatra Matha Devalayam's blessing ceremony was performed by Thiruvananthapuram diocese Metropolitan Rev Dr Acharuparambil Benedict Jacob on 5/1/ 1980. And, the ceremony of this new church was performed during the tenure of priest Rev Father G Stefan.