Built in 1894, Fr. Ferdinand Celle SJ, a French Missionary, Idaikattur Church is another popular place to see around Madurai. It is located in village named Idaikattur which is about 39 km away from Madurai city. Replica of Rheims Cathedral of France, this cathedral presents captivating architecture. Its architectural beauty also makes it a must visit on Madurai Tour. It is also known by the name of Church of Sacred heart of Jesus.
History of Idaikattur Church, Madurai
This church was built by Mary Anne, a French Anglican lady. She was suffering from a serious ailment which doctors weren’t able to cure. She, on advice of three Roman Catholic ladies did Novena prayer for nine days for sacred heart of Jesus. As an answer to her prayers, she got cured of her illness within her 9 days of prayers. To thank God for the miracle she donated 2000 francs for the construction of the church of Sacred heart of Jesus in Idaikattur.
According to legend, Ferdinand Celle SJ wanted to build a bigger church so as to accommodate at least 1000 people. Unfortunately, because of lack of funds and inability of local villagers Idaikattur to contribute, he had gone to his homeland France for collecting money. It is during then when Mary Anne had met Fr. Ferdinand Celle SJ and requested him to build a church. Upon her request, the church structure was built in the same way as the one of Rheims cathedral.
Architecture of Idaikattur Church, Madurai
Church of Sacred heart of Jesus, popularly known as Idaikattur Church is known not only for its religious importance but also for its structural beauty. As a whole this church resembles France’s Rheims cathedral. However, it still has many unique features that make it all the more captivating.
This church has been constructed with around 200 varied kinds of tiles and moulded bricks. Church has been decorated by using these different bricks and tiles. Interior of this church is also worth noticing. The inner gothic arches of the church have been beautified with mesmerising terracotta work depicting rows of garlands, flowers, beads, etc. Windows have also been ornamented with small pillars of brick which are connected with hallow flower work. The hallow brick work in the church has been used for reducing the impact of hot weather conditions.
The main altar of the church is its most alluring feature. Its gothic façade which is of around 45 feet is consisted of God holding his son Jesus by his hand and Holy Spirit along with angels surrounding him. The altar here depicts the Christian doctrine – Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The church also showcase exquisite stucco work, figures of saints, angels, St. Joseph, mother of sorrows and many others. Amazing examples of French art work can also be seen here. There are around 153 depictions of angels in this church.
Reaching Idaikattur Church / Church of sacred heart of Jesus, Madurai
This church is located in Idaikattur, a small village which is about 39 km away from Madurai city. To reach Idaikattur by bus tourists can travel to Muthenendal, which is about 37 km from Madurai. From Muthenendal, one can either hire a rickshaw or take a bus. As Idaikattur is located on the other side of Vaigai River, one has to reach till the banks of Vaigai river and then cross the river to reach this shrine. From the Vaigai River, this church is only 500 meters away.