St. Jude Church, Chinnathurai, Kanyakumari
St. Jude Church is located at Chinnathurai Village in Kanyakumari District of Tamilnadu. Chinnathurai was officially formed in the late 1970s. Earlier it was a part of Thoothoorthurai, which was a collective village of three villages namely Thoothoor, Chinnathurai and Eraviputhenthurai. All three villages were brought together only for the purpose of Church administration. The places near to the river or sea are called Thurai in Tamil which means ‘a place where people can get closer to the shore and also can do their loading and unloading from the boats’. Since Thoothoorthurai is on the shore of the Arabian Sea, it also attached ‘Thurai’ on its name.
Thoothoorthurai was actually a fishing village and it served as a small port in the Kingdome of Travancore . The people were also trained in warfare and the king used them to guard the sea shore. In Thoothoorthurai the area of Chinnathurai was the main place for most of the village activities. Eraviputhenthurai was separated from Thoothoorthurai and formed as a separate village. During this time, Thoothoorthurai was transformed into Thoothoor because of the difficulty in pronouncing the name. In 1979, as the population grew, Chinnathurai also was separated from Thoothoorthurai.
Before the partition from Thoothoor, the share of Chinnathurai in parish expense was 2/3. To explain in simple, for an expense of Rs. 100, Chinnathurai has to contribute Rs.66.66 and Thoothoor would contribute only Rs. 33.33. The plan for the Church was drawn immediately after the partition, because the Church is centre of administration in the Christian villages. St. Jude, the Apostle and relative to Jesus Christ, was made patron saint for the Chinnathurai Parish. The Church in Chinnathurai was inaugurated in 1990.
The Church can accommodate approximately 1000 people for a service. It has five small Christian shrines of different Saints on its various parts. St. Jude’s Community Hall serves as common hall for any village or family functions adds beauty to its panoramic view. St. Jude’s Sports Club is maintaining the library which inculcates the reading habits to its youth. The beautiful Anantha Victoria Maharani Canal (AVM Canal) runs through the centre divides the village by Northern Chinnathurai and Southern Chinnathurai. A bridge on this canal connects both sides. The bridge also connects the other villages on east and west of Chinnathurai as well.
It is believed that in 1558 St. Francis Xavier baptized (converted to Christianity with self-consent) these people. That was the start of Christians. In 1978, Chinnathurai got separated from Thoothoor and was officially formed as a parish under The Thiruvananthapuram Diocese. But the foundation for the Church was laid in the year of 1963 and completed in 1988. The Church is being located in middle of Parish surrounding with white sand. The Patron Saint for the Chinnathurai Church is St. Jude, the relative and one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. The feast of St. Jude falls on 28 October on every year and is celebrated grandly in Chinnathurai.
The day of the people in Chinnathurai normally start with a Holy Mass at the Church in the morning and they go to their work. The Church really unites the people. The parish is being governed by a Parish Council headed by the priest and its members elected by the people. Since there is no big Church when St. Francis Xavier baptized the people in this region, he installed big Crosses made in stone in all locations where the people lived in groups for their worship. Later the people in that region constructed Shrines in the name of different Saints. In some shrines about 15 years before only the Crosses were removed and was reconstructed. This is how the shines in Tamil got the name of 'Curusadi', which means 'below the Cross'.
In Chinnathurai you can witness about 5 shrines right now. The first Shrine is the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourd which is in the middle of the parish and near by the Church. This is believed to be that the Grotto was constructed in the year 1940. The Grotto adds beauty to the Parish along with the Church with the surroundings of white sand. There are many accounts that a lot of miracles happened in this Grotto.
The second one is St. Antony's Shrine and St Sebastian's Shrine both are on the shores of Arabian Sea. St. Nicolas' Shrine is located in the western part of Chinnathurai which was earlier on the shore of Arabian Sea. The St. Anne's Shrine is located a bit inside the village surrounded by the houses. All these Shrines are believed to more than a Century old. Keeping the tradition on, the people in the surroundings of each Shrine come together and celebrate the feast of the Saints on respective feasts.
The Church is located at about 7 Kms from Munchirai, 15 Kms from Marthandam, 14 Kms from Kuzhithurai, 23 Kms from Colachel, 25 Kms from Thuckalay, 42 Kms from Nagercoil, 60 Kms from Kanyakumari and 47 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Nearest Railway Station is located at Kuzhithurai and Nearest Airport is located at Thiruvananthapuram.