PERAMBALUR: Hundreds of devotees have started visiting Palayam village in Perambalur district to witness the demolition of a 161-year-old church built by the French. “Lakhs of children were baptized here and the church has been the venue for thousands of weddings over the years,” Father A Jayaraj of the church said.
The church authorities started the demolition work of the dilapidated church on Thursday considering the safety of the students of a middle school located on its campus. The school has 140 students. The demolition work is expected to be completed on Monday.
According to sources, the St. Susaiyappar Church was built by the French in 1861 during British rule. The church is 61-ft tall and is spread across nearly 8,800sqft on a two-acre plot. The church was closed for public use after a part of its roof started crumbling in 2009 and a new church was built on the campus on 2016. Considering the safety of the students, we decided to demolish it, the parish priest said. “The church was built by the French under MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) method. Even after 160 years, the structure is so strong that we are finding it difficult to demolish it,” Jayaraj said.
P Daniel Prakash, a resident of Palayam, said, “I cannot forget this shrine. Naming ceremonies of four generations of my family from my grandfather to my son happened here. During our childhood, we used to spend more time in the church than our homes.
The church was designed so beautifully. It’s quite sad to see it being demolished. The church will always remain in our memories.” R Joseph Raj, another resident, said, “I realized how old the shrine is only when it celebrated its centenary. I used to visit it every day as it is located just opposite my home. We tried to renovate it but we could not do it. It is a great personal loss.”