Kappal Matha Church, Uvari, Thirunelveli
The Kappal Matha Church (Our Lady of good health), with the form of a ship carrying an aero plane, is also well known and worth a visit. The original church of St. Mary was damaged by sea erosion, and replaced by this one built in 1974. There are four shrines and many grottos. It is also known as Selvamatha Church. It is an important Roman Catholic Church at Uvari. The church is devoted to St. Mary. The Kappal Matha Church is Geographically Positioned at 8.279431, 77.894332 or 8°16'46.0"N 77°53'39.6"E.
The present church building had been built in 1974 overlooking the sea, after the original structure had been damaged by sea. The congregation of this church had been worshipping here for about 150 years. This church has been shaped as a ship with an aero plane forming a room and its construction is unique.
Originally, a little church dedicated to St. Mary existed in Uvari and was under the control of pastors of a Goan mission. In 1903, the church was converted into a school. Festivals and prayers marked significant occasions, which were celebrated by the locals. One custom involved young maidens going to the nunnery to spend the night there. On one such occasion a bright light was observed surrounding the Selvamatha (St. Mary) statue even though nobody had lit a candle. This phenomenon was witnessed by many residents of Uvari and the light continued to glow for over an hour. This event occurred on September 18 and is celebrated as a festival. The statue of St. Mary is taken around town in a chariot.
When the old church was damaged by sea erosion, the locals decided to build a new church. The foundation stone for this was laid on January 25, 1970 by Father Thomas and the work was completed in 1974. The church got its name ‘Kappal Matha’ because it resembles a ship. (‘Kappal’ means ‘ship’ in Tamil).
The church dedicated to St. Mary is a delightful piece of architecture built in the shape of an aero plane placed over a ship. It was constructed in the year 1974, when the original church was damaged due to sea erosion. The church is facing the blue sea and the moving waves of the sea near gives an impression that this ship shaped church is sailing on the sea. The church has three shrines and several grottos.
Uvari is located at about 8 Kms from Thisayanvilai, 40 Kms from Nanguneri, 70 Kms from Thirunelveli, 78 Kms from Thoothukudi, 136 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram and 220 Kms from Madurai. Nearest Railway Station is located Nanguneri. Nearest Airport is located at Thiruvananthapuram, Thoothukudi and Madurai.