A place of worship has a unique importance in human civilization. As a student and teacher of history I have come to understand the immense role religion has played in transforming human thought and the entire meaning of life. Religion allows human beings to feel the pain, the joy of others and differentiate between good and bad not only from their personal perspective but from the perspective of the entire society.
The Christian religion came to India in the 13th century and later became a major influence in the South especially during the rule of the French, the Portuguese and later the British. Christianity united the people of Madurai for good and helped keep them together even during the independence struggle.
The Idaikattur church Madurai is a monument and not simply a church. I have a great interest in visiting places which have witnessed the transformation of societies and I believe that being a social sciences teacher it is really important for me to bring to my students the philosophical and human elements of history. History to me has never been a study of facts; it must be a study of how facts came to be true. In the famous words of Einstein-“don’t tell me when or where this war was fought, tell me if you can why this war was fought”
The Idaikattur church Madurai was built in the year 1894 by a French missionary Fr. Ferdinand Celle on the instruction of a French lady May Anne belonging to the elite who believed that she was cured from her heart condition by the grace of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As the tale goes, she prayed for five continuous days and was completely cured when all doctors had become hopeless. The Church was later extended during the British rule.
The architecture of the Church is also extremely attractive and many tourists visit the quiet village of Idaikattur just to witness this beautiful church. It is a replica of a French cathedral named Rheims cathedral located in northern part of that country but the influence of Indian styles is quite evident. The religious integrity of Idaikattur is reflected by a fact that land on which the church is built was donated by a Hindu temple located nearby.