Distinguished for its beautiful architecture and ambience, St. Francis Church is believed to be one of the oldest churches in India, which was made by the Europeans. It's a landmark where the body of late legendry explorer Vasco da Gama was buried. According to the legend, Vasco da Gama who was the first European to discover a route in India last breathed at this place in the year 1524. It was his third visit to this church and his body was buried here itself. It is said that his remains were shipped to Lisbon after 14 years, but the gravestone is still seen in this church. Tourists from different parts of the world visit here to see the gravestone of Vasco da Gama.
The history of St. Francis Xavier's Church dates back to 1503. It was earlier built by Portuguese traders who came here with Admiral Pedro Alvarez de Cabral through the same route taken by the legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who landed at Calicut in the year 1498. Earlier, the church has a simple wooden structure dedicated to St. Bartholomew. In the year 1506, the Raja of Cochi gave permission to the Portuguese Viceroy 'Dom Francisco Almedia' to renovate the structure in stone. Then the new church was built in the year 1516 dedicated to St. Antony and the ownership of the St. Francis Church was given to the Dutch, who captured Kochi in the year 1663. Then the church was converted into government church till 1795. Later it was under the control of British when they captured Kochi from the Dutch. Then in the year 1923, the church became a protected monument under the Protected Monuments Act of 1904.
Architecture of the Church
The eminent structure with a gabled timber framed roof covered with tiles adds charm to the beauty of church. A stepped summit is built on either sides of the frontage which is quite appealing and the traditional charm is still maintained here. Its interior offers a striking view with two stepped summits topping the channel roof and the plain arched opening, dividing the chancel from the centre area of the church. Apart from all these, a cenotaph is also here that stands in the centre of the lawn area which was built in the year 1920 dedicated to Kochiites who sacrificed their lives in World War 1.
Thus, if you are planning to visit Kochi, you must keep this attraction in your bucket list.