We learn that the Shrine of St. Lawrence at Attur – Karkala Parish seems to have been in existence even before 1759 A.D. History tells us that the Christians of this place too were among those who suffered captivity of Tippu Sultan from 1784-1799 A.D The parish church in those days was situated at a place about 7 kilometers away from the present church. Tippu destroyed it and took the Christians to Shrirangapatna as captives. Those Christians who returned after freedom from captivity built a church with thatched roof on the way to Akre in the year 1801 A.D. under the leadership of a Goan Priest. In the year 1839 it was replaced by another building. It was about 4 Kilometers away from the previous one. This new building happened to be on the back of the present church and was facing west. A small flower garden is standing in that place now.
Soon it became a place for pilgrimage. Pilgrims from all sides came to this sacred place and innumerable were the favours granted by the Saint. In the year 1895 the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Frank Pereira finding so many devotees of St. Lawrence flocking to this Church and claiming to have received innumerable favours from the Saint fostered the devotion further and organized Novenas and prayer services making them more and more meaningful. Then in the year 1900 Rev. Fr. Frank built a Church facing the north. This Church was blessed and inaugurated on 22.1.1901 by the Vicar General, Very Rev. Mgr. Frachett.
Rev. Fr. Frank Pereira’s successors too kept up the devotions and throughout the year people from near and far-off places were going to Attur on pilgrimage. St. Lawrence of Attur is known for his astonishing power of intercession with God. Over the past years the patronage of St. Lawrence over Attur has been remarkable. Not only the residents of Karkala and the pilgrims flocking there in great numbers, but also devotees who invoke St. Lawrence of Attur without visiting the shrine have experienced his powerful intercession. The number of pilgrims to the place throughout the year and specially those during the feast days in the month of January is an evident proof that St. Lawrence does not disappoint those who come to him in faith and devotion.
Last 30 years the Shrines developments went on fast track as the flow of pilgrims has increased manifold. The little shrine of St. Lawrence that is adjacent to the sacristy was rebuilt by Rev. Fr. Frederick P.S. Moniz in the year 1975 wherein the miraculous statue is preserved. In the year 1993 Rev. Fr. Joswey Fernandes came here as Parish Priest. In the year 1994 he started the work of broadening the narrow space between the church and the hill on the eastern side of the Church. But during the monsoons a part of the hill slid and the cement sheet portico was destroyed. Also the ground on the eastern side of the Church was filled with the mud of the hill. With the aid received from the government and the help of the public this mud was cleared and used to broaden the school grounds. Now this school ground is not only used by school children but during January shrine Feast it is used for parking devotee’s vehicles.
A hundred feet high tower representing religious art of various regions was built in 1997, to symbolize the acceptance of people of various faiths. In July 1997 due to the heavy rains the hill slid again and the portico of Aluminum sheets was completely destroyed. Nothing happened to the new Tower, which indeed was said to be a miracle of Saint Lawrence. With the fallen mud of the hill, the deep ravine in front of the Church on the left side was filled up and the school grounds further extended. Because of these the right side of the Church became spacious. The people could now move about more conveniently and freely.
In 1998 the ‘Miracle-Pond’ (PUSHKARINI) was renovated in modern Indian Architectural style with facility for pilgrims to descend into the pond. In addition, the Twin gates in front of the Church were built in 1999, in line with the Tower to enhance the beauty of the Holy Place. In the year 2000 A.D., a Church building was put up in front of the existing church joining the recently put up façade. This spacious church is specially meant to accommodate the Annual Feast crowd. The new Church was inaugurated and blessed by Rt. Rev. Dr. Aloysius P. D’Souza, the Bishop of Mangalore on 21st January 2001.
Rev. Fr. Joswey Fernandes was succeeded by Rev Fr. Francis Cornelio on 10th June 2001. He too continued the path of development of Shrine by giving special attention to Novena, and charismatic prayers on Thursdays with adoration service which attracted large crowd of devotees. He also arranged midday meal service for devotees after the Novena Mass on Thursday. Now this scheme is continued with the help of the well wishers and devotees.
To make this famous Shrine a land mark in this area, he erected two ‘Mahadwara’s facing highways, one at Doopadakatte and the other at Kabattu. To help the pilgrims especially during the annual feast at January end for their spiritual needs and also to help parish and nearby people a multi-storied Community Hall building Project was completed in 2003.
When Fr Francis Cornelio was transferred, Rev Fr. Arthur Pereira took charge on 27th May 2006. He has continued the development of the Shrine. The temporary hall build to provide meal to pilgrims on Thursday was replaced with spacious beautiful dining hall. Many volunteers of parish give their service to cook and serve meals to devotees on Thursday on regular basis.
ST. LAWRENCE SHRINE – A SHRINE of UDUPI DIOCESE:
The Shrine activities are planned and managed under the Bishop of Udupi diocese as the President. The Bishop obviously appoints the parish priest of St. Lawrence Church as the Director of the Shrine of St. Lawrence too. In fact the Shrine of St. Lawrence belongs to the Diocese of Udupi. Hence every year before the Annual Feast a preparatory meeting is held with the Bishop presiding. The priests of Karkala Deanery are also invited along with some other priests of the diocese who have been collaborating for many years now. The diocesan directors of some the centres of the Diocese also take an active part. The responsibility for various tasks is shared by several priests and lay leaders alike. After the annual feast again a meeting is conducted to evaluate the entire celebration. These meetings are a great help for the success of the feast. Of course the day today functioning of the Shrine is shouldered by the director of the Shrine.
Attur St Lawrence Shrine and Parish - Information:
PARISH PRIEST & DIRECTOR OF SHRINE: Rev. Fr George D’Souza.
TOTAL CATHOLIC POPULATION : 1672 (Male: 855 Female: 817)
CATHOLIC FAMILIES : 358
PARISH WARDS : 9
Parish Priests served in this Parish:
As per available records the following priests have rendered their valuable service and served the people of this Shrine:
1. Fr. Francis Salvador Lobo : 1759
2. Fr. Sabastio M. De Crasto : 1775
3. Fr. Kusthodeo C. Nazara : 1777
4. Fr. Alexio Rodriguez : 1781 – 1786
No written record is available for period 1786-1801. Possibly due to the atrocity during the rule of Tippu Sultan no priest was appointed to serve the people.
5. Fr. V. Rodrigues 1801
6. Fr. C. Silva 1808
7. Fr. A. S. D. Veri Tako Silva
8. Fr. Serao 1818
9. Fr. C. Furthado 1823
10. Fr. P. J. Rebero 1830
11. Fr. P. Noronha 1832
12. Fr. H. R. Souza 1834
13. Fr. Sereio 1845
14. Fr. Lawrence Fernandes
15. Fr. Joseph Michael Rebello 1856-1858
16. Fr. Agustine Dose Jacobse Doris Gonsalves 1855-1868
17. Fr. John Cross 1868- 1870
18. Fr. A. Fernandes 1870- 1881
19. Fr.Frank S Pereira, 1881- 1904
20. Fr. Jacob Sequeira 1904- 1914
21. Fr. Alphons Mari Ligory Vaz 1914- 1922
22. Fr. Salvadore D’Souza, 1922- 1948
23. Fr. A. J. D’Silva. 1948- 1952
24. Fr. Pascal Lobo. 1952- 1953
25. Fr. Francis D’Souza, 1953- 1957
26. Fr. William Lewis, 1957- 1959
27. Fr. Valerian B Colaco, 1959- 1970
28. Fr. F.P.S. Monis, 1070- 1978
29. Fr. Robert Z D’Souza, 1978- 1986
30. Fr. Jose M. Menezes, 1986- 1992
31. Fr. Robert Crasta, 1992- 1993
32. Fr. Joswey Fernandes. 1993 – 2001
33. Fr. Francis Cornelio 2001 – 2006
34. Fr. Arthur Pereira 2006-2013
35. Fr. George D’Souza has taken charge on 01 June 2013