Arthunkal, Kerala, India – St. Andrew’s Basilica & St. Sebastian’s International Shrine

Michael and I stumbled upon this lavish church while searching for a restaurant to have supper.

To me, what makes this church lavish, stand out even, is how pristine it is amoung the humble living conditions within the village.  It is very apparent that money to the church takes priority over infrastructure and garbage collection within the village.


Just across the street…





This is a pilgrimage location. Michael and I noticed the lack of amenities for those who may have traveled a long way to come here.  However, maybe this opinion is because of our western lens, and inability to find a restaurant in the village. There were lots of little nooks and crannies to have Indian tea though!

What I later learned about St. Andrew’s Basilica and St. Sebastian’s International Shrine is that this has the largest shrine of St. Sebastian in the world and, as mentioned is a place of pilgrimage for his devotees.

Who was St. Sebastian?

He was an early Christian saint and martyr. He is the protector from the bubonic plague, and among other things, is the patron saint of athletes and a holy death. He is also a gay icon.

Adjacent to the basilica is a larger than life St. Sebastian encased in a wooden boat where people can hang rosary beads, light candles and pray.


Sculptures of Jesus’s life, possibly carved of wood, are located along either side of the property that houses both St. Andrew’s Basilica and an older church behind it. There are also a few statues dedicated to Mary at the end of her life.

There are Christian devotional songs playing all the while from speakers located beneath each statue scene.

The basilica as we walked along one side to the front.  A large, neon red rosary hung above the front entrance.


Michael and I walked in through immense doors beneath the glowing red neon rosary to see the inside…


The second entrance to the interior had chains hanging down like this window does:


We didn’t linger, as there were many people in prayer.

This is the older church behind the basilica. The older church appears to be dedicated to St. Sebastian.  The dedications are colorful, almost childlike – with dolls dressed in pink dresses.


Nobody was there while we were taking a look, therefore, Michael was able to stand at the altar!  🙂

As we left, walking to cross the street there is the main sign – with a grate where people can light candles for prayer beneath it.



We never did find a restaurant within this busy village.  😉

S, 🙂

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