Brief history of the Church in Barkur:
Historical Barkur then known as a maritime port, had been attributed to the legend narrating the arrival of two Apostles viz. St Thomas and Bartholomew, Christ’s contemporaries in the first century itself, as the latter preferred to stay over here and the place was eventually named after him….The faith was not spread as a religion then, but a way of life… and a sizable number followed it for centuries in the surrounding….There were no houses of God, or Church, as the house of the village head probably was the place of worship….
Centuries rolled over…. and in later years in the 14 th to 17 th centuries, Portuguese Missionaries from Goa had a larger stake in spreading the Catholic faith in the region, directly… and indirectly prompted many to immigrate from Goa and settle in the Coastal Karnataka. Barkur being the commercial center and the Capital city during Alupas, and fortunate to enjoy a place of strategic importance under Hoysala, Vijaya Nagara rulers, was a well-planned prosperous port city, as there were references of this town in the history pages and also a cosmopolitan house for people from different faiths and religion. There are hearsay stories, claiming there existed a Church and a Synagogue either in Barkur or in Baikady….The
earliest record available says that a Church existed in Barkur was destroyed by the soldiers of Tippu Sultan in 1783, when they took all Christians into captivity in Srirangapattana in Mysore. After the death of Tippu Sultan in 1799, very few people who returned and settled over here constructed a church, in the beginning of 1801, dedicated to our Lady of Holy Rosary near the todays Maryknoll High School. This went into decay during the Pedroado-Verapoly controversy, around 1835…… As the number of people following the region was steadily increasing, a chapel was in the place, served by Milagres Church Kallianpur, at the same location where todays St Peter Church stands since 1854. The Chapel was promoted as a full-fledged Church and an independent parish on 29-04-1861, with a resident Vicar, Fr.Cosmos Damian Rebello. Till the year 1921 when Airody St. Anthony Church and Holy Family Church in Brahmavar were erected, 14 th February, in the year 1934, it was Barkur Church, catered the religious needs of the huge geographical area ranging almost from Kota to parts of Brahmavar.
As years passed by and the number of parishioners were increasing, a genuine need for a larger church was felt. Our ancestors, living in far away locations used to come on previous day and there were some temporary arrangements for their accommodation near the Friday Market…the long holy week service, enactment of Biblical events etc. were held in the open ground under the shade of huge trees…..and a make shift pendal….
There was a genuine need for a spacious church but resources were in scarcity, people were poor, almost 65 long years, a tiny Chapel, since 1854 to 1923, holding the faithful in its holy arms. There were attempts and plans to extend the prayer house and priests serving accumulated material, like wooden logs, a special fund in this direction. A chain of political uncertainties, First World War, and mainly the lack of monetary resources didn’t encourage the concerned going for a new Church.
P. Archibald Furtado