At Fort Kochi you can sense history, it is around around you in the air. You find things Jew, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British all within short distance of each-other right here in India. I visited Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica on a overcast evening at Fort Kochi. When I entered the basilica it was empty. Only once before I have entered a place of worship and had it all to myself, it was the St. Mary’s Church in Oxford.
While I visited the place I was wondering what is the difference between a church and a basilica. I found the answer here–
“The word basilica is derived from a Greek term meaning “royal house.” In the Catholic world, a basilica is a church building that has been accorded special privileges by the pope. There are two kinds of basilicas. The world’s four major, or papal, basilicas are St. John Lateran, St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and St. Mary Major, all in Rome.”
Minor, or lesser, basilicas are significant churches in Rome and elsewhere in the world that meet certain criteria and are given special ecclesiastical privileges. Minor basilicas are traditionally named because of their antiquity, dignity, historical value, architectural and artistic worth, and/or significance as centers of worship. A basilica must “stand out as a center of active and pastoral liturgy,” according to the 1989 Vatican document Domus ecclesiae”.
Santa Cruz Basilica has such a fascinating history. It has three distinct phases of existence . In the first phase, 1505 to 1558, the Portuguese built it. Then Dutch conquered Kochi and razed almost everything to the ground but this Cathedral and St. Francis Church. Even though it escaped destruction from Dutch, it met the same fate in 1795 at the hands of British.
When you walk through Cochin you here of so many things that were destroyed by the Dutch or the British. I wonder how the town would look if humankind would have preserved things instead of destroying them!
The reconstruction of the Santa Cruz basilica was started under Bishop D. João Gomes Ferreira in 1886. It was completed under the next leadership of the bishop. Since then it has been left in peace and that is how I got to see it in 2013!
The mind boggles to imagine that something was built in 1505, destroyed, rebuilt in 1886 and I go and see it 2013. This world has been around for a long time and it is going to be around for quite sometime as well. We speck of dusts just pass through it!