On the outskirts of the Karkala city, stands the shrine of St. Lawrence at Attur.
The St. Lawrence Church has remarkably rich history. We learn that the Attur- Karkala parish seems to have been in existence even before 1759 A.D.
History tells us that the Christians of this place too were among those who suffered captivity of Tippu Sultan from 1784-1799 A.D The parish church in those days was situated at a place about 7 kilometers away from the present church. Tippu destroyed it and took the Christians to Shrirangapatna as captives. Those Christians who returned after freedom from captivity built a church with thatched roof on the way to Nakre in the year 1801 A.D. under the leadership of a Goan priest. In the year 1839 it was replaced by another building. It was about 4 kilometers away from the previous one. This new building happened to be on the backside of the present church and was facing west. A small flower garden is standing in that place now. There is an interesting story of the shrine of St Lawrence church worth mentioning here.
The church that was on the way to Nakre was too old to be used. So the devotees of St. Lawrence accompanied by a Goan priest went about in search of a suitable site carrying with them a one-foot wooden statue of St. Lawrence. They were praying to St. Lawrence to guide them in the choice of a place for raising a church in his honour. They crossed the Rama-Samudra of Karkala and coming down the woods of ‘Parpale hills’ they reached Attur. There was a spring flowing at the bottom of the hill. As they were tired and thirsty they placed the statue of Saint on the ground and after quenching their thirst took some rest. After some time they thought of resuming their journey, but to their great surprise they could not lift the statue it was firm and immovable like a tree. The priest then exclaimed. “Oh St. Lawrence, if you have chosen this site we will have the church built here”. With these words he stooped down to lift the statue and it was easily detached from the ground. It was at this very spot, (behind the present church) that they erected the church in the year 1839, and soon it became a place for pilgrimage. Pilgrims from all sides came to this sacred place and innumerable were the favours granted by the saint. The miraculous statue became an object of popular devotion.
In the year 1895 the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Frank Pereira finding so many devotees of St. Lawrence flocking to this church and claiming to have received innumerable favours from the saint fostered the devotion further and organized Novenas and prayer services making them more and more attractive. In the year 1900 Rev. Fr. Frank Pereira had the church built facing the north. This church was blessed and inaugurated on 22.1.1901 by the Vicar General, Very Rev. Mgr. Frachett.
Rev. Fr. Frank Pereira’s successors too kept up the devotions, and throughout the year people from near and distant places were going to Attur on pilgrimage. St. Lawrence of Attur is known for his special power of intercession with God. Over the past years the patronage of St. Lawrence over Attur has been remarkable. Not only the residents of Karkala and the pilgrims flocking there in great numbers, but also devotees who invoke St. Lawrence of Attur without visiting the shrine have experienced his powerful intercession. The number of pilgrims to the place throughout the year and specially those during the feast days in the month of January is an evident proof that St. Lawrence does not dismay those who come to him in faith and devotion.
The little shrine of St. Lawrence that is adjacent to the sacristy was built by Rev. Fr. Frederick P.S. Moniz in the year 1975 wherein the miraculous statue is preserved. In the year 1993 Ref. Fr. Joswey Fernandes came here as Parish Priest. In the year 1994 he started the work of broadening the narrow space between the church and the hill on the eastern side of the church. But during the monsoons a part of the hill slid and the cement sheet portico was destroyed. Also the ground on the eastern side of the church was filled with the mud of the hill. With the aid received from the government and the help of the public this mud was cleared and the school grounds were enlarged with this mud.
A hundred feet high tower representing religious art of various regions was built in 1997, to symbolize the Church’s ingenuousness in accepting people of various faiths. In July 1997 due to the heavy rains the hill slid again and the portico of Aluminum sheets was completely destroyed. Nothing happened to the new faced, which indeed was be said to be a miracle of St.Lawrence. With the fallen mud of the hill, the deep ravine in front of the church on the left side was filled up and the school grounds further extended. Because of these the right side of the church became spacious. The people could now move about more conveniently and freely.
In 1998 the ‘Miracle-Pond’ (PUSHKARINI) was renovated in modern Indian Architectural style with facility for pilgrims to descend into the pond. In addition, the Twin gates in front of the church, built in 1999, in line with the Tower further enhance the beauty of the Holy Place.
In the year 2000 A.D., a church building is put up in front of the existing church joining the recently put up façade. This spacious church is specially meant to manage the Annual Feast crowed of people. The Masses during these days will be celebrated in this new church. The existing church is maintained untouched and will be used as before. The new church was inaugurated and blessed by Rt. Rev. Dr. Aloysius P. D’Souza, the Bishop of Mangalore on 21st January 2001.
The whole year round the pilgrims come to visit the Shrine. People believe that St. Lawrence indeed is a powerful intercessor before God. Not only the people of Attur and the pilgrims that visit the Shrine, but also even those who without visiting the shrine, still pray for help from the Saint, have felt the helping hand of St. Lawrence. The great number of pilgrims that visit the shrine during the Feast and throughout the year is a testimony that the Saint does not refuse those who approach him with trust and confidence.
Novena prayers: Every Thursday at 10 a.m. followed by Mass.
(also on Sundays at 7.20 a.m. and 10.30 a.m. followed by Mass)
Thanksgiving and intentions sent by the devotees are announced every Thursday and Sunday during the Novena and are prayed.
Annual Feast: Every year normally in the last week of January.
(Thursday of the week is to be within this month)
Rev. Fr. Joswey Fernandes was transferred to Niddodi on 10th June 2001 and Rev. Fr. Francis Cornelio took charge of the parish as new vicar. Rev. Fr. Denish Casthelino joined Fr. Cornelio to reside at Attur to assist the parish and also to monitor the activities for the development of Dalith Christians of the Diocese.
The erection of the ‘Mahadwara’ at Doopadakatte was inaugurated on 27th January 2002 . The work of similar Mahadwara is in progress at Kabattu to be inaugurated on 27th April 2002 . The devotion to the historical Cross erected at Parpale Hill was renewed.
St. Lawrence Church
Attur P.O., Karkala – 576 117
Udupi District, Karnataka, INDIA