Church of 'Our Lady of Light', popularly known as the 'Luz
Church' is located in a tiny corner of Mylapore in
Chennai. This church
is also known as the 'Kaatu Kovil' (Church located in a forest) locally
and is believed to be the oldest church in
Chennai. The now
busy Luz area was in early days supposed to have been filled with
mangroves, where St. Thomas is believed to have once rested.
Franciscan missionaries from Portugal built Luz Church in honour of Mother Mary in 1516. The church was damaged when Golconda forces occupied it in the 17th century and later when forces of Hyder Ali occupied it, in the late 18th century. The East India Company also occupied Luz church for some time.
According to the legend prevailing a group of Franciscan missionaries were coming on a mission to preach the good news in the land of India. But when the boat neared the Coromandel Coast, they were stranded out on the rough seas, as they were unable to locate the shore. Anxiously they beseeched Mother Mary. Then a mysterious light appeared and they were guided to the shores of Mylapore, then a village. Having landed at the shore, they found that the light led them still further and disappeared at the place where the church stands today. They built the church at the very spot where the light vanished in gratitude to 'Nossa Senhora de Luz (Our Lady of Light)'. Luz means light in Portuguese. Thus was born the name Luz, by which the whole surrounding area of the church is known".
There is an interesting story behind the centrepiece of attraction on the ceiling fresco - the 'Franciscan Emblem'. The emblem shows two hands as if embracing each other. One is said to be the hand of Saint Francis and the other of Jesus Christ. Once when Saint Francis of Assisi was praying he wanted to embrace Jesus. In response to that wish in his mind, Jesus is believed to have embraced him.
The austere facade of the church belies the splendour of its baroque interiors with its gilded altars, the fine tracery railings of the pulpit and choir, the original polychrome santos and frescoed ceilings.
Fashions and trends of typical European ecclesiastical architecture are reflected in the Luz Church reflects the. One can find that the Gothic arches and flying buttresses, baroque ornamentation and elegant classical lines, have been heavily influenced by European style. The Luz Church is a fine example of the Portuguese, impressive attempts to replicate their great churches in faraway lands.
The main feast of the Church is celebrated on August 15th. The feast is celebrated with a grand mass and car procession.
Chennai has an
airport with national and international terminals. Regular flights connect
Chennai with the
major cities within the country and countries like Singapore, America,
Rail: Chennai is well connected by rail with all the major places within and beyond the state.
Road: State transport buses and private buses connect Chennai with the major towns and cities within the state and country. For local transportation local trains, city buses and auto rickshaws are available.
Being the capital city of the state Chennai is well equipped with luxury as well as budget and economy class hotels for accommodation.