History of Church

Annals of history would leave us astonished by the miracles involved in the way Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church & Shrine was initiated and built. Kovalam is a tourist village located along the east coast road 30 kms away from the Chennai city. It used to be one of the primary settlements for Europeans, mainly inhabited by Hinduth and Muslim brethren in the late 18 century; no historical evidences of Christians living here then. Apparently between 1770 AD - 1780, Rev. Fr. Carmelita a missionary from the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese had started building a church in Kovalam. The foundation was laid and the walls were built. But Fr. Carmelita's untimely demise stalled the completion of the Church's construction for about 20 long years. During the same period, a Portuguese merchant by the name of Sir John D' Monte was merchandising in a Madras Mylapore coastal settlement called, Dumeen Kuppam” exporting silk handkerchiefs to other countries from India. He lived with his wife Mary Bilderbeck and only son Christopher D' Monte. Christopher, their son while on his way back to join his parents after pursuing higher education in Germany, fell ill and died at the young age of 22 in a place called “Rodgau”. Shattered and heartbroken by the news she went into a state of dismay and dejection. She left Madras-Mylapore and was desolately roaming along the shores of Bay of Bengal in Kovalam. Agonized by this tragedy, D' Monte started searching for his wife frenetically. At a point, when he reached Kovalam, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to him and promised, “My dear son D' Monte, the church Fr. Carmelita started building is still not completed. You take it up and complete and I shall cure your wife”. Bearing Our Lady's words in his mind and soul, D' Monte built a magnificent church reflecting Portuguese architecture and his wife Mary was liberated from her illness and distress. The church was built and established as a parish church during the period 1800 – 1808 AD. Commemorating Fr. Carmelita's initation of the church and mother Mary's appearance to him, De Monte named the Church, “Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church”. Mother Mary's glory started spreading across countries and since the day of consecration, devotees from Chennai and other places around started thronging to Our Lady of Mount Carmel's Church. Annals of history would leave us astonished by the volumes of miracles, healings, prayers answered in this holyland.
By the grace and intercession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, D' Monte who used to be a small-time merchant progressed to become a millionaire. In his will he dedicated all his wealth and land resources in and around Chennai and Kovalam to the Archdiocese of MadrasMylapore. The place where he lived was named after him as “D' Monte Kuppam” and changed over the years due to colloquial usage and is now being called, “Dumeen Kuppam”. Since the day the church was built and consecrated, devotees from Chennai and places around started thronging to Our Lady of Mount Carmel's church and celebrated her feast for 10 days (from flag hoisting to lowering of the flag). Since there were no roadways to Kovalam those days, people commuted through the backwaters by boats. Multitudes of devotees wholeheartedly who sought our Lady's intercession have been blessed abundantly over the years. During the period 1881-1887 only three Catholic families existed in Kovalam. But today it has grown to be a big parish consisting of 200 families. Our gracious mother Mary's statue brought from Portugal is placed at the sanctum of the church. This statue depicts Mother Mary with child Jesus being held in her right hand. In order to augment the increasing number of parishioners, and frequent visits of devotees, Rev.Fr. P.K.Mathew remolded the patio of the church. to create more space for people to spend their time in prayer. This structure was completed in the year 2002 and consecrated by the Auxillary Bishop of Madras – Mylapore Rev. Dr. Lawrence Piuz. The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated on the following Saturday after th July 16 every year.


Sir John De Monte, a pious devotee of Mother Mary built the Church in 1808 and donated the entire land that surrounded the church. D'Monte's remains and his son's bones brought from Europe were buried inside the Church on the right side.