Our Lady of Snows Church, Maravankudieruppu, Kanyakumari
Our Lady of Snows Church is located at Maravankudieruppu near Nagercoil in Kanyakumari District of Tamilnadu. The Church is located at the center of the Village. The shrine refers to the basilica of Saint Mary Major on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, where legend says that snow fell in the summer time. Falling under the Catholic Church's jurisdiction of Kottar Diocese, this is an individual parish. There are about 1200 Catholic families in the parish, with a population of over 5,000.
The current church was built in the late 1950s by the local population in a community effort, including women and children, mostly during the weekends. The whole structure of the Church is supported by seven concrete arches, without any no pillars. The door frames are made from stone. In times where the churches in India were built with donations from Europe, this church was solely built by the contributions from the parishioners.
A proposal was brought in by the church parish council to demolish the existing one and construct the one with a budget of appx 2 Million USD. Those who oppose this are of the contention that this the existing structure is an engineering marvel, with no pillars, and of the view to protect the heritage. Their claim to leave the as such, and build the new one nearby. On November 2011, the civil patrons of the church got a stay order from the district court, to stop demolishing the church, citing its architectural values. The plan is further dropped, when the Parish Priest, who was supposed to bring in a major share of donations from Germany, announced bluntly in a Sunday Mass, about his in inability to find any donors during his visit abroad.
17 February 2012 is observed as a 'Black Day', as on that day of 2012, few vandals and hooligans demolished the altar and removed the statues & shut the church doors permanently, despite the court stay order. Now the whole issue is pending before the High Court of Madurai Bench. On 23 August 2012, 2:00AM, the entire Southern wall & the arch pillars of the church were demolished by a gang of masked hooligans armed with axes/knives by a bulldozer. FIR was registered against 20 persons, all belonging to the parish, mainly consisting of Parish Council members. On Sept 13, parishioners met Bishop, and the Bishop condemned this activity.
New Year, Christmas, Easter and the ten-day Church festival to Our Lady of Snows in August are the most celebrated holidays and festivals. Community Dining (Aasanam) is also an important day in the year, when all the parishioners pool their resources, cook in the church ground and enjoy a common meal.
The Church is located at about 5 Kms from Nagercoil, 4 Kms from Nagercoil Bus Stand and 4 Kms from Nagercoil Railway Station. Nagercoil is located at about 21 Kms from Kanyakumari, 13 Kms from Thuckalay, 23 Kms from Colachel, 27 Kms from Marthandam, 12 Kms from Padmanabhapuram, 27 Kms from Thiruvattaru and 72 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Adequate rail and road facilities are available to reach Nagercoil from all parts of the state. Nearest Railway Station is located at Nagercoil and Nearest Airport is located at Thiruvananthapuram.