The Great Church of Ollur and the Angel Raphael - A Photo FeatureProf.George MenacheryOne remarkable feature of the Sistine (from Sixtus) Chapel in the Vatican is thatevery square inch in the 133 ft. by 43 ft. rectangle - the ceiling, the mosaicfloor, the wall behind the altar, the side walls, the marble screen… is decoratedwith the works of the greatest masters of the time including Michelangelo,Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio, Resselli, Botticelli, Mino da Fiesole…No wonder Pontiffafter Pontiff chose the Sistine as the most suitable venue for the conclaves toelect the Pope. The breadth-taking grandeur of the Chapel has to be seen to bebelieved.The AuthorThere is one church in Kerala and only one church perhaps which can claim thatevery inch of space in the church is decorated, under both western and indigenousinfluences, with the highest achievements of the painter, the sculptor, theceramics worker, the carpenter, the goldsmith, the bronze artisan, or thearchitect - using every media known or imaginable like gold, silver, iron,bronze, wood, ivory, stone - including laterite, granite, and precious stones,…Here there are large numbers of frescoes, murals - both Kerala and western stylemurals, woodwork, metalwork, ivorywork… Of course, Ollur’s other name Chinna Roma(Little Rome) is quite appropriate for this and many other reasons. Our If anychurch in Kerala deserves to be named a basilica (a minor basilica, that is) it isundoubtedly this great church. If any church is to be made a key attraction fortourists, Indian or international, the first consideration must be given to thischurch.In an article of this sort there is no place for elaborate descriptions and long-winded narratives, nor for many references and notes. Hence this opportunity isused merely to rediscover for those who already know something of this greatchurch, and to introduce the newcomer to, certain aspects of the Ollur Church andthe Shrine of St. Raphael the Archangel especially from the standpoint of itsartistic and architectural excellence.At one time, especially in the 19th century and the first three quarters of the20th century there were only three Christian festivals in the erstwhile CochinState which used to attract countrywide attention. One was the Kanjoor festival ofSt. Sebastian, another was the celebration in honour of the Koratti Muthy Thethird festival of State significance which used to attract tens of thousands ofdevotees was the St. Raphael’s festival of Ollur popularly known as MalakhayudePerunnal.Ollur church is famous for the large number of exquisitely carved sacred images inwood. According to Kuriappan Kattookkaran’s book on the church, written a centuryago, there were seventy-three statues in the church and as many festivals. Eventoday some of the best-carved statues of Kerala are to be found in this church.Today every Sunday in the year is dedicated to the feast or festival of theTrinity, Jesus, or an apostle, or a saint, and even so some festivals have to beobserved on week-days.