Oriyur Arulanandar Church, Ramanathapuram
Oriyur Arulanandar Church is located at a distance of 129 Kms from Ramanathapuram, known for its magnificent shrine with Portuguese façade, is a limelight for most of the Christians. The Church is home to the martyrdom of St. John de Britto, a Portuguese Jesuit better known as ‘Arulanandar’ in Tamil. Oriyur is a small village located in Ramanathapuram district, Tamilnadu, India. It is 35 kilometers from Devakottai, Sivagangai.
Oriyur is one of the most revered pilgrim centers for Christians the world over as it is home to the martyrdom of St. John De Britto, a Portuguese Jesuit better known as ‘Arul Anandar’. In 1693, January 31st St. Arulanandar came to Oriyur. It was ruled by the king Udhaya Devar. He was affected by paralysis and leprosy. He asked St. Anthoniyar to cure his disease.
St. Anthoniyar replied, “True god only can cure your disease. Pray to him” King got anger on him put him in the jail. King’s wife asked the saint to cure her husband. He replied, “I am not a magician”. King heard this and got anger on Saint. He ordered his soldier to cut his head. February 4th was the last day of his life. He got killed by cutting down his head. His body was tied in a tree. His bloodshed on the ground and the soil turns into red.
It was in this place that the saint was beheaded in 1693 and the sand dune is said to have turned red, believed to be stained by the blood of the saint. Here, one can see a magnificent shrine with its Portuguese façade that contains a captivating statue of Arul Anandar offering his neck in humble submission to the executioner.
Main Significance of this place is the healing power of the ‘red sand’ and the faith of the devotees. People are said to be cured of incurable diseases after applying the sand on their bodies. Couples are said to be blessed with children on visiting the shrine and praying to the saint. During festivities, pilgrims from Tamil Nadu and Kerala – Hindus, and Muslims jostle with Christians and throng the shrine in thousands in their eagerness to honor a holy man who shed his life blood in Tamilnadu.
Though, primarily of religious content, the festivals are also a social gathering – an opportunity for these simple people to bring gaiety and variety in life. The strong faith and enviable ability to combine pleasure and piety on a pilgrimage gives a Chaucerian atmosphere to the Oriyur feast.
Devotees from other dioceses and districts visit the shrine on specific dates. In February they come from Dindigul, while in June, they hail from Karunguli and Nagapattinam. During September more than 25,000 pilgrims visit this shrine and offer prayers and offerings. In October another 25,000 pilgrims arrive from the neighboring Sivagangai district and in December pilgrims from Madurai and Melur visit the shrine.
Throughout the year, thousands of pilgrims from Sakthikulangara – the only parish in Kerala dedicated to the St. John De Britto come to seek blessings. This is also a favorite place for foreign tourists. Thus, the tourist potential is tremendous and perennial that can be exploited to the maximum extent possible. There are references about Oriyur in Tamil Literature. So its history can be traced back long before the advent of the missionary.
Three churches in Oriyur for Saint Arulanandar:
· A church is there in the place he got killed (Thalai Vetunda Kovil)
· Another church is in the place his body was tied (Kalumaram Thangiya Kovil)
· Third church was opened in 1948, June 22nd which stands in the memory of the name Saint was given to St. Anthoniyar in 1947, June 22nd (Punithar Pattam Ninaivu Kovil)
St John de Britto Church
Tamilnadu - 623 309
Phone: +91 8903135575 / 9655040270
Oriyur is a small village located in Ramanathapuram district, Tamilnadu, India. It is 35 kilometers from Devakottai, Sivagangai. From Karaikudi and Devakottai, all Paramakudi bound Buses will go via Oriyur.