After seeing the beautiful chinese fishing nets, my friends decided to stay there itself. So i took a short 300 meters walk to visit the St.Francis Church. The church looks simple, but under its humble appearance lies great historical significance.
Vasco da Gama, who discovered the sea route from Europe to India, landed at Calicut (later renamed Kozhikode) in 1498. He built a fort at Kochi with permission from the Raja of Cochin. Within the fort, they built a church with a wooden structure, which was dedicated to St. Bartholomew. This is the first European church built in India.The neighbourhood is now known as Fort Kochi. Later, the wooden church was rebuilt, with bricks and mortar and a tiled roof was erected. In 1516, the new church was completed and it was dedicated to St. Anthony.
When the Dutch captured Kochi in 1663, they demolished all the churches except this one. They reconditioned it and converted it into a government church
In 1795, when the British captured Kochi from the Dutch, they allowed the latter to retain the church. In 1804, the Dutch voluntarily handed over the church to the Anglican Communion. It was placed under the Ecclesiastical Department of the Government of India. It is believed that the Anglicans changed the name of the patron saint to St. Francis.
Vasco da Gama, during his third visit to India, died in Kochi in 1524. His body was originally buried in this church, but after fourteen years his remains were removed to Lisbon.The gravestone of Vasco da Gama can still be seen here. A cenotaph in memory of the residents of Kochi who fell in the World War I was erected in 1920. The Church was declared a protected monument in April 1923 under the Protected Monuments Act of 1904. As a protected monument it is under of the Archaeological Survey of India.
By this time, i got a call from my friends waiting in the park nearby to hurry up so we can move on..So, i had to hurry without visiting the Santa Cruz Basilica. But, we headed to Mattancherry for a visit to the Dutch Palace, Jew town and the Jewish Synagogue..more in my next post.