Fort Kochi, Kerala
First European Church in India
Vasco da Gama was buried here
St. Francis Church is a stonework church set on quiet lawns amidst the bustle of Fort Kochi, 10 kms from Ernakulam. Initially named as Santo Antonio, this protestant church was originally built by the Europeans in India.
Vasco da Gama was hidden here in 1524 AD. Though 14 years later his mortal remains were taken to Portugal, the carved gravestone can still be seen in the church.
It also has crypts of Portuguese nobles. St. Francis Church was the initial
church to have been built in the new European influenced style and tradition. The original wooden building of 1510 AD was replaced by the current building around 1546 AD.
Under the Dutch, the church was renovated and became protestant in 1663 AD. Inside the church, a variety of tombstone inscriptions have been placed in the walls, the earliest of which dates back to 1562 AD.
The imposing façade with multi curved sides became the model for most of the churches in India. Now a protected monument, the Church is presently owned by the Church of South India (CSI).
A cenotaph erected in 1920 AD, in memory of the residents of Cochin who fell in the First Great War was unveiled by the Governor of Madras. The border walls were erected in 1924 AD.
There are normal worship meetings in the church each Sunday and commemorative days. The church remains open on week days for guests and tourists.