Malayatoor (Kerala), April 10 (ANI): On the eve of holy week during lent days, thousands of Christian pilgrims climbed Kerala's most famous hill shrine Malayatoor Kurisumudi, the only international Pilgrim centre in Asia and fifth in the world, approved by the Vatican.
Despite harsh terrain and bad weather conditions, people from all age groups and religion shared the pain and hardships by carrying the wooden cross that Jesus went through the way to crusification at Mount Calvary.
The climb is quite difficult having rocks and uneven surfaces. But it is the major attraction the pilgrims come for.
According to the church authority, over eight million visit this place every year during this period which lasts till May 31 of this year.
Fr. Rockey Chully, the Chaplain of the St. Thomas International shrine, Kurisumudi, said that lakhs of people carry cross as Jesus carried to the mount and during the entire season to this hill shrine, especially on Good Friday is when the maximum climbs.
Carrying the cross while climbing makes one feel the pain Jesus had felt. Other devotees come to full fill their vow for their near and dear ones.
"It is the fourth year for me climbing this shrine and this year I come for my child's well-being as I have full faith that all my sufferings will be removed after this", says a devotee Jacob K.K.
Another devotee from nearby state of Pollachi in Tamil Nadu Mrs. Stella M has been climbing the shrine for the last five years and is happy to have removed her family problems.
"this is my fifth year now and all my family problems have been solved after praying to god, I really love to come every year"
The famed church lies 54 kilometres from Kochi and stands at the top of the Malayatoor Hill, which is 609 metres high.
The church is consecrated to St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ and enshrines a full-size image of St. Thomas.
According to a belief, the footprints of this holy man are engraved in a rock, which is protected here.
Sailing in an Arab merchant vessel, St. Thomas is believed to have landed at Kodungalloor port in Kerala, India in AD 52. It is believed that St. Thomas took the initiative for establishing a Christian community at Malayattoor.
St. Thomas founded seven churches in Kodungalloor, Quilon, Niranam, Nilakkal, Kokkamangalam, Kottakavu and Paalayoor on his journey in Kerala.
He died in 72 A.D. after he was pierced by a lance while praying on St. Thomas Mount, a 91m-high hill 14km southwest of Chennai.
His body was taken to Mylapore and buried in the chapel he had built with his own hands.
"Its been the fourth year for me climbing this shrine and this year I come for my child's wellbeing as I have full faith that all my sufferings will be removed after this," said Jacob K.K., a Christian devotee.
"This is my fifth year now and all my family problems have been solved after coming and praying to god, I really love to come every year," said Stella M, a devotee from Tamil Nadu. By Juhan Samuel (ANI)