Category: News and Events


By the 16th century, hundreds of Portuguese families had settled in Santhome and influenced the architectural style of many of the city’s buildings. DR S SURESH writes about the vestiges of the culture

Son after Vasco da Gama’s unique sea voyage from Europe to Kerala in 1498, the Portuguese began to establish colonies in many places almost throughout India. In the early 16th century, they began to rule the Santhome-Mylapore region, long before the British founded the modern city of Madras in 1639. Indeed, Santhome was the first place, in the entire Coromandel Coast, to be colonised by a European power.

By the year 1582, hundreds of Portuguese families had settled in Santhome. Around the year 1660, the Portuguese built a fort around the settlement. It is said that this fortified town was almost twice the size of the English settlement within Fort St George.


The Portuguese exercised profound influence on the history and architecture of our city. According to some scholars, the very name Madras was derived from Madera, the surname of a well-known affluent Portuguese family that once lived in Santhome. The family had friendly contacts with the British officers in Fort St George. The Portuguese fort at Santhome was one of the earliest forts built by the Europeans in the whole of India.

The Portuguese built scores of palatial houses throughout Santhome. Many of these houses, especially those closer to the sea, were surrounded by large gardens. Some of these houses are still in existence. They also constructed several churches in Mylapore-Santhome. These are among the earliest churches built by the Europeans in the whole of South Asia. Among them, the oldest and the most important is the Luz Church located on Kennedy Street in Mylapore. The church is dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Light’, Luz meaning ‘light’ in Portuguese. It was built in the early 16th century by a Franciscan monk named Fryer Pedro de Atongia. This vaultroofed church is designed in the shape of a cross. The front façade displays decorative pilasters and carvings and is topped by conical finials and a cross. The structure is mainly built of brick and lime. The ceiling above the altar exhibits gorgeous paintings. The floor tiles are believed to have been imported from Italy.

Yet another Portuguese church is the Rosary Church or the Church of the Holy Rosary on Rosary Church Road. Built in 1635, the church is particularly known for its ornate front façade exhibiting Ionic and Composite columns surmounted by a pediment. The square-shaped altar is approached through a large semi-circular opening. The altar is lit from above through the clearstorey windows below the massive octagonal dome.

Many people living in Chennai are unaware that the Portuguese had a special attachment to the famous Santhome Church on Santhome High Road. This church was originally built in the 1st century AD. The Portuguese extensively renovated and expanded this church. A major renovation took place around the year 1606. This Portuguese edifice was replaced by the present Neo-Gothic style structure, erected by the British in the year 1896.

The writer is Tamil Nadu state convener, INTACH

Source: Times of India  |  January 11, 2014

Search Keywords: Portuguese Connect Chennai, Portuguese Chennai, Portuguese church Chennai, Portuguese in Santhome, Vasco da Gama Chennai, santhome Church Chennai, Luz Church Chennai, Our Lady of Light, Mylapore Santhome, Rosary Church Chennai

Season of giving: This Christmas be a Santa for someone

Chennai: It’s easy to miss the message for the sales pitch; Christmas has after all, becomeoneof the market’ssweet seasons. But rising determinedly above store calls to self-indulgence and pampering one’s family with inessentials, can be heard a quiet appeal to reach out also to one’s community. It’s a message sent out by churches and organisations in Chennai, intent on returning to the originative values of the festival like charity and kindness.


At St Theresa’s Church, Nungambakkam,for example, parish priest Fr Lawrence Raj hasbeen entreating parishioners to contribute to the annual Christmas hamper effort they’ve been running for five years. Each hamper – containing a live hen, rice, lentils and other comestibles–sells at 500 and will be offered to a impoverished family of any faith. “The Society of St Vincent de Paulidentifies around300families and we supply them the hampers on December 24 morning so they can prepare a Christmas meal the next day,” saysFr Lawrence.

The church also collects packets of food cooked by parishioners on Christmas morning – a portion of eachfamily’s own feast – and the church youth fan out, delivering the food to the homeless. “Each year wecollectbetween 1,000to 1,500 packets,” Fr Lawrence says, pointing outthatthiswill help people remember that Christmas is the feast of sharing, notjustconsuming.

St Mathias Church at AshokNagar hashitupon an innovative campaign, ‘Be a Star this Christmas’. The parish Christmas tree will be mounted with dozens of stars, each inscribed with particulars of items neededby the poor ofthe parish, from food to stationery or clothes.People areinvitedto pick a star and donate the itemslistedon it. “Stars arethe need of the season,” says Fr Anthony Das, parish priest of this Capuchin order, calling to mindthe Star of Bethlehem.

Social outreach has long been central to the Christmas programme, in both religious and secular circles with parties and gift-giving organised in socialinstitutions.However, efforts that rally a community or neighbourhood to partake in collective outreach have yet to pick up. While most of these initiatives are taken up by churches,some are alsofielded by community organisations like the newspaper ‘Mylapore Times’.

Aboutfive years ago,editor Vincent D’Souza established a tradition which, by nature of its practice, became a vehicle for aid. He brought Santa Claus back to Mylapore. “We wanted to rekindle the simple joys of gifting; despite the age we’re in, people still believe in Santa Claus,” says D’Souza. This is how it plays out: on December 21 and 22, ‘Mylapore Times’ takes Santa Claus aroundthe neighbourhood, accompanied by three young members from St Bede’s Band who strike up a medley of festive tunes. The entourage drops off gifts (that had been deposited at the ‘Mylapore Times’ office the previous week) to children and adults. They venture into bylanes and up anddown buildingstodeliver the goods,someof which are marked out for residents of old age homes and other disenfranchised quarters of society, all anonymously sponsored. “We used to make our rounds from 5.30pm to 10pm in an open-top car, but then drunks would invariably want to join the party,” says D’Souza, adding that they’ve switched to safer modes of transport. As the editor emphasises, when youwantto pulloff something nice, youhavetoworkfor it.

Source: Times of india | Joeanna Rebello Fernandes TNN | Dec 22, 2013

How Francis became THE POPE OF HOPE

The Vicar of Christ is preaching the Gospel, in word and deed

He is everywhere. The Pope, that is. On the cover of magazines. As Person of the Year. As the subject of street corner discussions. As longform magazine stories. On meme boards. You get the idea.

The Pope’s mystique started on the night of his election, when he took a bus with the other cardinals, refusing to travel in the papal limousine. His plain white robes stood in stark contrast to the opulent trappings favoured by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. In his first media conference, he said that he wanted a “poor church, for the poor.”

When Time magazine pronounced Francis as the person of the year, Howard Chua-Eoan and Elizabeth Dias wrote, “But what makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all… In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church – the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world – above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors. John Paul II and Benedict XVI were professors of theology. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher.” Ron Fournier writing at The Atlantic looked to the Pope as a way for the American Republican Party to understand the virtues of “openness, populism, humility, and courage.” His pro-poor message was not a change in direction for the church, away from cultural issues like gay marriage, abortion or contraception, but a return to the core values of Christianity, argue several observers. And at a time when atheism has gained ground rapidly in the world, he has made Catholic Christianity cool again, writes Jeremiah Jacques at

He’s now the most discussed person on the Internet. Reddit loves him. Francis memes have exploded since his papacy began. And his name is the most popular in Argentina for baby boys.



The pope condemns trickle-down economics and warns against the “idolatry of money”

The pope washes the feet of prisoners, including women and Muslims

Francis stuns the world when he tells a reporter “Who am I to judge them?” when asked about gays. Gay rights magazine The Advocate named Francis Person of the Year

APOSTLE OF CHANGE: Leading by example, words and actions

Source: Times of India | December 22, 2013   Photo Courtesy: Corbis

Chennai Christian Shortfilm Festival 2012 – CCSFF 2012

Chennai Christian Shortfilm Festival 2012 – CCSFF 2012
10th November 2012 | Don Bosco Auditorium | Egmore | Chennai

Send your Music Videos (below 5mins.) & Short Films (Below 20 Mins.)

Entries Open – till 20th Oct 2012

Dear Respected Father / Brother,

Greetings to you from the organizers of the Chennai Christian Short Film Festival.

We are glad to inform you that preparations are on for the second edition of the (CCSFF) Chennai Christian Short Film Festival scheduled for the 10th November 2012 at Egmore Don Bosco Auditorium, Chennai. Please do participate in this festival, by way of submitting your short films and music videos. Attractive cash awards are awaiting the winners. It will be a very good occasion to bring into synergy all creative Christian energy.

For more details about the festival, please log on to The last date for submitting the entries for CCSFF will be 20th OCTOBER 2012.

Please do pray for the success of this festival, that this may become a worthy vehicle of proclaiming the Good News and building His kingdom on this earth. Thank you very much.

With warm regards,
Bro. Petersdb

Entries Open for Chennai Christian Shortfilm Festival 2012 – CCSFF 2012. Make Christ Speak Through You… Share the uniqueness of CCSFF among your friends and networks… CHRIST DESERVES MORE For More Information

Log on to
Contact: 9566102806


Youtube: (English version) (Tamil version)

A JOURNEY OF FAITH | Vailankanni Basilica | September 08, 2012

Pilgrims from across india arrive at the Vailankanni Basilica to take part in The Annual Feast celebration.

Source / Courtesy: Sunday Times | Times of India

Media Workshop on Digital Christian Resources

Two days Workshop on “Digital Christian Resources”
organised jointly by and Alaihal Media, Trichy.

Days: 2012 MAY 20th Sunday 4.00pm to 22nd  Tuesday 4.00pm

Venue: Alaihal Media Center, Manikandam, Trichy.

1. Software applications for Christians (powerpoint presentations / accounting / calendars…..)
2. Websites for Christians (CMS like Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, blogs, web pages…)
3. Mobile and Tablet applications ( iMass, iBreviery, iBible….)
4. E-publishing circulars, articles and books
5. Social networking (facebook, twitter, group emails and group sms…)
6. Web streaming (online TV and radio)
7. Digital media in Liturgy – a debate
8. Discussion on mutual ONLINE collaborations

Participants: 60 (Priests, Religious and lay persons in particular, youth in IT sector and communication field with some basic knowledge of computers and internet) Most welcome to bring your own laptops / tablets but not necessary.

Language: Tamil and English

Cost : Rs. 1200 (including stay, food and course content) 50% concession to those who may need it

For Registration and more information,
Please visit: