ISSN 2330-717X

India: Rector Of Kerala Shrine Stabbed To Death


By Christopher Joseph

Father Xavier Thelakat, rector of St. Thomas International Shrine in the Indian state of Kerala, was stabbed to death on March 1, said officials of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

Police are searching for a sacristan who had been in a dispute with the 52-year-old priest and was seen running away from the scene.

Location of Kerala in India. Source: Wikipedia Commons.
Location of Kerala in India. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

“The wounds were on the legs. It seems the artery of his thigh was cut and he bled to death because of the delay in taking him to hospital,” archdiocesan spokesman Father Paul Karedan told

The shrine sits on a hill about 1,200 feet above sea level. Father Xavier was halfway up the hill in an area that is not passable for motor vehicles when the attack took place.

“It must have taken at least an hour to carry the victim down and then some more time to take him to hospital. It happened at noon,” Father Karedan said.

The sacristan, known only as Johnny, had ill feeling toward the priest, who took charge as rector seven years ago. The priest wanted to remove Johnny from his job following complaints about his immoral life, a senior priest said.

The shrine is particularly important for Eastern rite Syro-Malabar Catholics as it is considered a place visited by St. Thomas the Apostle, to whom they trace their Catholic faith.

According to tradition, the apostle landed in the coastal area in AD 52 and spent 20 years there. The shrine sits on a hill where the apostle is believed to have spent solitary hours of prayer.

The Vatican elevated the ancient shrine to the status of an international Catholic shrine in 2004.

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The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

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