Annual feast of St. Lawrence, Attur-Karkala from 25-28 January 2010

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By Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle

24 January 2010: In the calendar of annual feasts in the erstwhile Dakshina Kannada district, the feast of St. Lawrence at Attur-Karkala on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the last week of January every year has been a grand religious, social and cultural gathering. During these three festive days and even before and after, lakhs of people from different parts of the districts of Mangalore and Udupi and even beyond from the states of Karnataka, Goa, Tamilnadu and  Kerala make a beeline to the Shrine of St. Lawrence, known as the ‘Saint of Miracles’ to either thank the saint for the favours received or plead for additional favours.

Located in the outskirts of the Karkala Town amidst lush greenery, the Attur parish dedicated to St. Lawrence has a rich history with its origin tracing back to 1759. According to some accounts,  the Christians of this place were also victims of Tipu Sultan’s religious persecution during 1784-1799. In those days the parish church was seven  kilometres away from the present church. It is said that the original church was destroyed by Tipu Sultan and after the end of their captivity, the Christians who returned to their native village erected a small thatched roofed church under the leadership of a Goan priest on the way to Nakre in 1801.

In 1839, the church was replaced by a third building around two kilometres to the south of the earlier church. Tradition says that a Goan priest chose its location by carrying a one foot high statue of St. Lawrence to Attur. The priest along with his followers after crossing the Parpale Hill halted near the stream of water to quench their thirst and rest. However, when they wanted to continue their journey in search of an appropriate location for the church, the priest found that the statue of St. Lawrence could not be lifted as it remained fixed to the ground. Realising that the Saint had chosen the location for the church, the priest and his followers decided to build the church at this location. Thus, this statue of  St. Lawrence has become an object of devotion and the church attracts a large number of  pilgrims.

The present, north-facing church was built in 1900 to accommodate the growing congregation. It was blessed and inaugurated on 22 January 1901. A small shrine was built adjacent to the sacristy in 1975 to accommodate the miraculous statue of St. Lawrence. A hundred foot high tower representing religious art of various regions was built in 1997, to symbolize acceptance of other faiths. In 1998 the Pushkarini (Miracle Pond) was renovated in modern Indian architectural style with facilities for pilgrims to descend into the pond. Twin gates were added in front of the church in 1999 in line with the tower. In 2000, a new church was erected in front of the church built in 1900 to accommodate the ever increasing pilgrims and the parish community. It was inaugurated and blessed on 21 January 2001. The earlier church building has been retained for additional accommodation.

The preparation for this year’s annual feast of St. Lawrence had started from 14th January 2010 when the work of erecting a huge pandal of coconut palm leaves was started and completed in three days. The pandal, shamiana, decoration  within and outside the church and the provision of meals, tea and breakfast for around 700 persons-volunteers, security personnel and priests from 25th to 29th January 2010 is being arranged by two brothers-Pravin and Roshan Castelino of Moodubelle. They have been rendering this service for the last seven years since 2003. According to Pravin around100 areca nut tree poles, 750 long thin bamboos (seeme) and 5000 coconut palm leaves have been used to put up the giant pandal covering an area of 21,000 square feet. On 22nd January they have erected a huge shamiana that covers around 28,000 square feet. The  total area covered by both  pandal and shamiana shows that the Shrine of St. Lawrence at Attur attracts lakhs of devotees and pilgrims during these three days of the annual feast of St. Lawrence.

The schedule of the annual feast of St. Lawrence has already started with the nine days novena from 17th January 2010 in preparation of the feast. This year’s theme for the annual feast is “Appointed and anointed for the people”. There will be a grand Confraternity (Compri) procession on Sunday, 24th January 2010.

On Monday, 25th January 2010, a Special Mass and prayers for the sick and aged pilgrims will be held at 3.30 pm. The main celebrant of this Special Mass will be Rev. Fr. Mathew Vaz, parish priest of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Udupi.

On Tuesday, 26th January 2010, Masses will be held at 9.30 am and 11.30 am  and at 1.30 pm in Kannada and at 3.00 pm  and 4.30 pm.  The Solemn Festive Mass will be celebrated at 6.00 pm in Kannada by Most Rev. Dr. Derek Fernandes, Bishop of Karwar Diocese. Masses will continue at 8.00 pm  and 10.00 pm and at 12.00 midnight. There will be presentation of  a devotional video on Wednesday, 27th January 2010 early morning at 2.00 am.

On Wednesday, 27th January 2010, Masses will begin from 5.30 am in Kannada, 7.00 am and 8.30 am. The Solemn Festive Mass will be celebrated by Most Rev. Aloysius P. D’Souza, Bishop of  Mangalore at 10.00 am. Throughout the day and night Masses will follow at 12.30  pm, 2.00 pm, 3.30 pm, 5.00 pm, 7.00 pm, 8.30 pm in Kannada, 10.00 pm and 11.30 pm.

On Thursday, 28th January 2010, Masses in the morning will be at 6.30 am and 8.00 am followed by the Solemn Festive Mass offered by Rev. Fr. Ronnie Prabhu, Episcopal Vicar at 10.00 am. Other Masses will be at 12.30 pm, 2.30 pm, 4.00 pm in Kannada and 5.30 pm.

With this hectic schedule, thousands of devotees and pilgrims pouring into the Shrine of St. Lawrence and hundreds  of stalls hawking verities of articles the entire Attur-Karkala region will witness an oasis of humanity belonging to different religions, communities and regions mingling as one human entity bound by devotion to St. Lawrence. Though there is an elaborate security arrangement, it is advisable that pilgrims should refrain from wearing costly ornaments or carrying too much of cash as at such holy places too the many of the unsuspecting devotees become easy victims of chain snatchers and pick pockets.

Bellevision wishes a Happy Feast of St. Lawrence at Attur-Karkala


Comments on this Article
Jennifer, Manipal Thu, September-19-2013, 3:01
In the year of Our Lord 258, Saint Lawrence offered the wealth of the Church to those who had nothing of their own. Lawrence was the chief deacon 'the arch-deacon' of the Diocese of Rome. Part of the responsibility of a deacon is to proclaim the Word of God, to look after the material goods of the Church, and to care for the poor, and so as the chief deacon of a diocese as large as Rome, Lawrence held a great deal of responsibility. He was called to act upon all these roles one day when Pope Sixtus II was put under civil arrest (Christianity still being an illegal religion). Not long after, the pope was martyred, and Lawrence knew that he would be one of the next Christians the Empire would come after. And so Lawrence sought out the poor, widows, and orphans of Rome, and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels of the Church. The civil prefect of Rome called Lawrence before him and demanded that he produce the treasure of the Church. And so Lawrence gathered together the blind and the lame, the leprous, the widows and orphans, and lined them up before the prefect’s villa. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply s
Beula Anthony, Bangalore, K. R Puram Mon, September-27-2010, 12:42
Very nice article, i wish i will come this year for the Feast and i will take this article print and show it to my Parents. Praise to St.Lawrence.
Suraj-Belle, Moodubelle/Dubai Tue, January-26-2010, 3:48
Eugene Sir Attur feast starts from 26th - 28th not 25th - 28th.. am I correct?
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