Thiruvedagam, Madurai Dt. – 625 234
The Church of Rayapuram near Sholavandan, via Nagari from the Dindigul -Main Road is situated about 20 k.m. away from Madurai. The shrine is named after Germaine Cousin, who was born in Pibrac, which is near Toulouse, a town in France, from which Province came in, during the 16th century, the French Jesuits to establish Madurai Mission. The first archbishop of Madurai Most Rev. Leonard and the Vicar General Fr. Trincal are from Toulouse province. Rayapuram is named after Fr. Labarthiere S.J. who started the missionary expedition in Madurai Mission. Labarthiere in English is Peter. Fr. Labarthiere is the founder of Rayapuram Farm and the Church.
Inspired by the heroic virtue of the shepherdess girl, Germaine Cousin of his own native origin, Fr. Labarthiere brought the statue of the saint and installed under a thatched roof with the help of Mr. Vedam and Soosai Pillai. The thatched roof was put up some 125 years ago and he bought lands around the place and settled the Catholics around the place. After the period of Fr. Labarthiere (1912), his successor Fr. Sebarthiere SJ developed the Chruch. In 1935 Fr. Astruc SJ became the Jesuit Mission Procurator.
In course of time the devotion spread out through the southern districts of Madurai Mission and people flocked to this little shrine as the saint was attributed to a lot of miracles. In 1912 there were only 70 people around the church and at present there are 700 people living in this quasi parish.
As the old shrine was in dilapidated condition, the century old church was demolished and an artistic new bigger Shrine was built with the help of the local parishioners and pilgrims, and of the generous help of the Jesuits of St. Mary’s community in consultation with the Jesuit Madurai Province. It was the hard work of the Jesuit Brothers and Jesuit Procurators that caused the emergence of such a huge church in an unknown village. On 18th April 2009 the Shrine was consecrated by the Archbishop of Madurai, Most Rev. Peter Fernando in the presence of Jesuit Provincial, Fr. Devadoss.
The total population of this parish is 149 families (700 members); 45 people of 15 Hindu families live side by side. 90% of the Catholics are Dalit Christians and their occupation is farming and mill work. This is a quasi parish without a Presbytery and the Jesuits are entrusted with the pastoral care of this quasi parish. The Second Sunday after Easter is the parochial feast day which attracts the pilgrims from the surrounding villages.
Fr. Astruc sj.
Fr. Deveiah s.j.
Fr. Durai samy s.j.
Fr. D. Arockiam s.j.
Fr. Solomonraj s.j.
Fr. V.S. Raju s.j
Fr. I. Irudayam s.j.
Fr. Arul s.j.
Fr. Masillamony s.j.
PARTICIPATORY STRUCTURES / ASSOCIATIONS IN THE PARISH
Legion of Mary and Vincent De Paul Society.
1) Jesuit community; members 2; Tel. no. 04543- 258282
2)Congregation of Immaculate Conception; members 4;
Tel. no. 04543-258714
Amali Middle School run by CIC Sisters.
No. of staff and students: 8 (6) & 270.
Mr. Henry, President of the village; Mr. Xavier one of the leaders of the village; Mrs. Anna Mary, Panchayat Union Leader.