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India: Mount Carmel Church in Munnar becomes minor basilica

Mount Carmel Church in Munnar

The diocese of Vijayapuram, Kerala, south India, elevated Mount Carmel Church in Munnar to the rank of minor basilica.

Bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril of Vijayapuram announced on March 27, 2026, that he received a decree elevating the Mount Carmel Church as a Minor Basilica from the Dicastery for Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments.

A solemn declaration of the basilica will be on Saturday, May 25, 2024, at 2 p.m. at Mount Carmel Church, Munnar.

This declaration marks a historic milestone as the first basilica in the high ranges of Kerala in the Western Ghats.

The establishment of Mount Carmel Church in Munnar dates to 1898. Father Alfonse Maria De Los Angeles, O.C.D., the zealous and spirit-filled Carmelite missionary from Spain who was then ministering in the Archdiocese of Verapoly, came to Munnar on foot in 1898.

As per the request, the managers of the tea estates had given him a piece of land, and he built a temporary shed with wood and straws and offered the Holy Mass in the same year, which enkindled the lamp of the Catholic Christian mission in the Munnar region.

A temporary shed became the site for constructing a small church in 1909. Archbishop Angel Mary, the then Metropolitan Prelate of Verapoly, brought Munnar Church under the jurisdiction of the parish at Aluva in 1919.

The first Bishop of Vijayapuram, Bonaventure Arana OCD, laid the foundation stone of a new church in Munnar on January 21, 1934, and blessed the current church on April 17, 1938. The Munnar community became a parish on February 5, 1943.

Mount Carmel Church in Munnar, the first Catholic church in the high ranges, celebrated the Quasquicentennial Jubilee in 2023. In the jubilee year, the 33rd Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), convened from November 11 to 12, 2023, voted and approved Bishop Vijayapuram's request to elevate Mount Carmel Church to the status of a Minor Basilica, and subsequently forwarded the appeal to the Holy See.

The parish priest, Father Michael Valayinchiyil, becomes the basilica's first rector.

Mount Carmel Basilica in Munnar will be the 31st basilica in India and the 11th basilica in Kerala.

Recently, on February 24, 2024, the St. Teresa’s Church in Mahe in the diocese of Calicut, Kerala, was also elevated to the status of a minor basilica. -With input from Stephen Alathara


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