St. Ignatius Church, Somanur

St. Ignatius Church, Somanur

Church Location

Rev. Fr. K. John Xavier Kulandhai - The Parish Priest , St. Ignatius Church, Somanur P.o, Coimbatore- 641 668.


This ancient Christian village is called Somanur because of the special brand of cloth whose famous brand name was“ Soman”, implying that either it was the production center of such a variety o cloth or a marketing center, according to. the oral tradition. The Christian community seems to be even earlier than the beginning of the actual Sathyamangalam mission of Fr. de Costa in 1643. Fr. Luney asserts that a church dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola was there in 1640. If the origin were to be from Sathy, then the missionaries form Sathyamangalam would have taken considerable time to reach out to Karumathampatty, Somanur (1660) and to Coimbatore (1675) a Jesuit sources seem to imply. But Fr. Beschu again following Fr. Luney, asserts that Karumathampatty car festival was being celebrated in 1640 on a grand scale, which historically cannot be true. Now about the original inhabitants of this village, according to the oral tradition and the anecdotes, which Fr. Beschu had recorded in his earlier “Short History of Coimbatore mission” of 1927, there were Christians o Vellalars migrated from Tanjore settled here. Both Vellalas and Kongu Chettis gifted the land on which the present church stands. The pride of the son of the soil Divan Bhadur L. D. Swamykannu Pillai, the first President of the Madras Legislative Assembly (died o 18.08.1925) was born here. As for the origin of the major castes o this place, the original Vellars ( Sholia Vellars) from Tanjore Trichy area, probably baptized there between 1620 1630 in Trichy- Tanjore and due to the persecutions, wars and famine, they seem to hav migrated té Palghat area, but, while turning back some of them seem to have preferred to settle down on the way, at Palga Ambattupalayam, Mundur etc., and finally, some also at Somaitur Because of their education they would have begun to dominat Somanur so as to become even the Village Maniakarar. It was one o the head-man by name ‘Palay’ invited the Kongu Chetti group (noyet converted) who were also retracing their steps from Malabar to their place of origin, Thiruchengode area and got converted by the Jesuits of Sathy mission. Hence this Christianity’s origin could not be placed around 1640 but atleast a little later. Somanur only two miles away from Karumathampatty and other surrounding Christian villages; therefore does not find historical mentioning in the Jesuits’ ,letters of this period explicitly, Karumathampatty itself finds its first explicit mention in the letter of 1686., when Karumathampatty was besieged by the troupes of a Revolt at Satfiy and it is explicitly stated that Fr. Benoit Noguera who was already residing there, had taken shelter inside the fort with his Christians and also after the siege was lifted by the timely arrival of Mysore army, the infuriated soldiers of the Revolt set fire to all the Christian houses and churches of the neophytes. This took place ml 684. Indirectly it is referred to as one of the 25 churches, with surrounding Christian villages, in a radius of 20. leagues (60 miles) from Kanuvakarai, in a letter of 1666. According to Fr. Beschu Karumathampatty was a separate residence in I 6$4, (History of the Coimbatore mission of 1947) with substations of: Somanur, Kombai Kadu, Pudur, Vettupalayam etc, upto the domains of Zamorin of Calicut and Nilgiris., with just 2 Jesuit fathers in residence. St. John De Britto visited in passing Karumath3mpatty 3 times between 1678- 1684. Hence Somanur Catholics would surely have seen him at least. In 1733 Louis de Rocha S.J was residing at Karuniathampatty and looking after its sub-stations. In 1744 Frs. Viëra, and Arnaut were in charge of all these Christian settlement.

The original church must have undergone destruction at least twice during the Mysore war and later during the wars of Tippu; it must have been rebuilt by the pious people of this village. According to the first Statistics of the new Coimbàtore Pro Vicariate the number of catholic population of Somariur was about 350 with a church, in 4859.. The old church built by Fr. Dubois in 1803 or by Becoit- Bouclair in 1840-1842 was demolished and a new church, wa constructed during the time of Fr. Gaucher in 1923 with the help of the local peàple and alOO feet-tall belfry was built with the help o the parishidners in 1930. One Mrs. Antoniyammal of PuduV4lavu with a donation of Rs. 1000 /- donated the bell. The bell was brought from France and it was blessed on 9.3.1930, baptized “Antoniammal” Fr. A. Joseph arranged for the electrification of the church, donated his own organ to the church and built a presbytery that was blessed on 3.12.1943.

In September 1946, Somanur was made as a separate parish with Marrianallur, Koinbaikadu Pudur and Kombaikadu. as sub­ stations. Fr.A. Chinnapan was the first Parish Priest. He renovated the church, built the compound wall for the cemetery, established the Stations of the Cross and also built a few shops for rental. Fr. Annaswamy (1952 - 1962 ) extended the boys school, rebuilt the churches of Marianallur, Kombaikadu and Kombaikattupudur, all entirely with the contributions of the respective villages. The present Tabernacle was gifted by the Cathedral in 1955. Fr. L. Antonyswamy in 1962 built the Girls High School with the help of the diocese. The Convent of the Presentation Sisters started in the year 1941, and the old presbytery was givenio them as their convent. Later a house was bought for the convent, in exchange for a costly piece of the church land on the main road. Fr. Amaladas started an English Nursery School in the presbytery premises in 1974, but it was discontinued later. A second convent of Presentation Sisters, in the new Girls High School premises and an Orphanag for girls was startedjn the year 1978. Recently, The ‘Ambrose Home for the Aged’, was started on a large piece of the land, belonging to the diocese. It was the patrimony ol Fr. Ignatius, donated to the diocese. In Church History, Somanur finds a mention in the year 1856, when Somanur was the center for a Kalabam (rebellion) of the Catholics of the 10 Catholic villages ol which Karumathampatty was the mother Church; leading against Fr. de Gelis, on caste observance. Even Mgr. Bonnand could not succeed in resolving it 1856, though he visited Somanur, walking on foot! Finally Fr. Ravel succeeded in 1857, by padifying the rebeli and settling the dispute. The leaders of the dispute acknowledged their fault accepted a fine and agreed to make reparation for the scandal. Mgr. Bonnand during his pastoral visit of 1842 praises the people of Somanur ‘as well - settled economically’. In those days, merchants, the community must have been prosperous and hence - dominating the Christianity of Karumathampatty. But now after 100 years, we cannot but notice, the gradual down ward trend in their economic prosperity! Many of them have taken upto weaving. It is also a sad historical fact, that like the Parsee community of the North India, the Catholic Kongu Chetti community is the only one to show a down-ward trend population wise, mainly due to their custom o marrying close b]ood relations. But of late they seem to have realized this folly and more inter-caste marriages are taking place.

Sub-Staions :

1. Semmandampayam :

As already described, is the “cradle of Christian Agamudayars” or’Vetrilikarars’ as they are known here. (Cfr. : p. 216-217 History of Pallapalyam). There was a small chapel here, which due to th recent initiatives of the villagers and the emigrants, a new modern church had been constructed under Fr. A. Irudaya Raj, the then parish priest of Somanur to which parish this place was attached in 1985 a substation. The church was partly built by people’s contribution and partly by the diocese. It was consecrated By Bishop Ambrose in th year 2003.

2. Sedapalayam :

It was a substation of Pallapalayam till 1985, when it w attached to Somanur. The old chapel in honour of St.John the Baptist, built by Fr.J. B. Castanie, in 1920 with local contributions Fr. Irdayaraj has started the construction of a new church. In 1929 Fr. Castani built a belfry and installed a bell. Due to the crisis in hand-loo industry in 1940s, many people had migrated to Bombay. A brand new modern church has been built by the people and was consecrated by Bishop Thomas Aquinas on 20.5.2005, Fr.Maria Pappu incharge of the construction.

Main Station

Distance from the Cathedral Church : 38 Kms.

Total No. of Catholic Families both in the Main & Sub- Stations : 520

Total No. of Catholic Families in the Main Station : 400

No. of Catholics in the Main station : 2000

Mass Timings :

Weekdays : Mon & Wed 6.OO a.m

Tue, Thu, Fri & Sat 6.00 p.m Sundays : 8.15 a.m. & 4.30 p.m

Religious Houses :

1. Presentation Convent {2 Houses} 0421 -2336274

Religious Institutions

1. St. Joseph’s High School 0421 - 2332307

2. St. Joseph’s Primary School 0421 - 2332664

3. Bishop Ambrose 1-Tome for the aged 0421 - 2334066

4. St. Joseph’s home for Children 0421 - 2336274

Lay Association

I .Sacred Heart Association for women

2 . Charismatic Prayer Group

Patronal Feast StIgnatious Of Loyola [July 31st]



Distance - 3 Kms

Families - 100

No. of Catholics - 400

Mass Timings - First Fri 6.45 a.m

All Sundays 6.45 a.m


Distance - 6 Kms.

Families - 20

No. of Catholics - 50

Mass Timings - Every Saturday 6.00 p.m

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