Mattom, a quaint village in Thrissur district, has a Catholic tradition of nearly1870 years. Around 5km
away from here, passes the Kunnamkulam-Thrissur state highway; the Guruvayoor –Thrissur railway track is
around 5 km from here. It is believed that St. Thomas church Mattom was established in 140 AD. Just 500
meters towards the north you find a hillock named Choolisserikunnu or Methrikkovil kunnu. Now it is known
as Vanamathavinte kunnu or Kanakakunnu. It is a hillock abundantly blessed by Nature. Standing on the
hillock one can see the adjoining hills and villages squinted by paddy fields and areca nut groves laced
by coconut trees. One can stretch one’s eyes to the horizons to the rising sun in the east and the setting
sun in the Arabian Sea. The pilgrim centers like Guruvayoor temple and Palayoor church can be seen from
here. There are more than hundred houses, big and small on this hillock now. The Aloor village office and
Kandanassery Panchayath offices are located on the sides of this hillock. St. Francis Higher Secondary
School is located on the northern side of the Vishnu temple. The beautiful shrine of our lady is located
on the top of this mystical hillock.
Seventy years ago the hillock looked nothing like it does today. There was only a Vaishnavite temple on Methricovil kunnu. It was a haven for wild foxes and timid rabbits. There was no human habitation on or around the wild hillock. The asst vicar of St. Thomas Church, Mattom, and Reverend Fr. Sebastian Vellanikkaran used to have his evening walk all the way uphill. It was he who established the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help which he had brought with him from Rome.
That picture is said to have a rich historical background. This miraculous picture of ‘Our Lady of Our Perpetual Help’ was first seen on the island of Crete. Its origins are not clearly known. It was then brought to Rome and was with a merchant for some years. One day Mother Mary appeared before a girl and instructed her to place it in a place between St. Mary Majos and St. John Herit. The picture was then placed in St Mathew’s Church on 27th march 1499 and blessed. Pilgrims flowed to the church for about three centuries. A war broke out in 1796 and St Mathew’s church was demolished completely. H.H Pious VII and later H.H Pious IX took care in rebuilding the church and in the year1855 a new church was constructed and the miraculous picture was consecrated there on 26 April 1856. The retentive prestos built a new church, St Alphonse church and the picture was reinstated there by the order of Pope Pious IX dated 26th April 1856.The original picture is still in the same church in Crete. His Excellency Pope Pious IX also permitted copies to be taken to different countries around the world for the faithful. Rev. Fr. Sebastian Vellanikkaran brought a copy of the miraculous picture to India and it made its way to Mattom. Here at Methrikovil, the picture was kept in an alcove cut into a rock. It is said that in 1939, on the first anniversary of the establishment of the miraculous picture in the alcove, a celebration was held and it was reported that the program was attended by around 5000 Christians and non Christians.
One hundred and one steps were cut from the main road to reach the top with safe and land for that was donated by Mon Paul. The history of this shrine will be incomplete without mentioning Srikrishna namboothiri of Vadakkambatt Mana who very generously donated one acre and 91 cents to the chapel of our lady. His magnanimity is still cherished by the faithful devotees.
Rev Fr. Thomas Attokaran and Rev. Fr. G.C Alappat will remain in the memories of many as the they transformed the small chapel into a vibrant pilgrim centre during their tenures as parish priests in Mattom vicariate. On 13th July 1939, Marian Sakyam, a community devoted to reciting prayers and novenas to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was started in Mattom parish, the first of its kind in India with Rev. Fr. Sebastian Vellanikkaran as its spiritual guide.
The fame of the shrine spread along the length and breadth of South India. Pilgrims and devotees from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka etc. flocked to this miraculous church to seek the powerful intercession of Mother Mary. It is said that, pious ‘chenda’ (musical instrument) artists would mark an auspicious beginning for all their musical performances (called ‘chendamelam’) by performing a short piece in front of the simple shrine before they set out. In 1967, the present octagonal structure of the shrine took shape. The symmetric and elegant design of the church was visualized by Rev. Mon. John Maliyakkal who was a staunch devotee of our lady. Until 1956there had been no road to the top of the hill. Rev. Mon. John Maliyakkal took charge of the parish in that year and a proper concretized road was paved under his supervision. Even after his transfer from the Mattom parish he remained a faithful devotee of Mother Mary and donated generous amounts for the development of facilities at the shrine.
Many blessings have been received by multitudes of people at the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour till date. Mother Mary still continues to be the refuge of all and blessings are being showered upon the faithful through her powerful intercession.