826 AD.The Kothanallur Church KERALA --A Catholic parish dedicated to twin brothers Saints Gravasis and Prothasis

The crypt in Sant'Ambrogio basilica of Sts. Gervase and Protase may still be viewed in the church of S. Ambrogio in Milan, ITALY;where it has been continuously venerated (CLICK ON PICTURE TO VIEW IT BIGGER)

INDIA Parish feast celebration attracts twins
June 23, 2009
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India (UCAN) -- A Catholic parish dedicated to twin brothers Saints Gravasis and Prothasis has been attracting scores of twins, including Hindus, for its annual feast.

This year's June 19 feast day Mass at Sts. Gravasis and Prothasis Church in Kerala, southern India, was no different. It was attended by 151 twins and two sets of triplets. The parish church is in Kothanallur village and comes under Palai diocese.

Twins attending the feast day Mass

Saints Gravasis and Prothasis grew up at a time when Christians were persecuted in the Roman Empire. They were martyred for refusing to give up their faith in Jesus Christ and worshiping the pagan gods of the Roman emperors.

Twin Fathers Joseph and Antony Kollaparambil, and Fathers Jose and Thomas Choolaparambil, led the June 19 celebration while twin Fathers Roy and Roby Kannanchira led a procession that followed the Mass.

Carmelite of Mary Immaculate Father Roy Kannanchira, said, "It was amazing. Even Hindus attended the feast and Mass and offered their prayers."

He said he learned the parish was planning to celebrate the feast "in a mega way" from next year onward.

Among the twins who attended the event, the oldest were 79-year-old Alexander and Cheriyan Kattakayam who traveled 47 kilometers to attend the feast. "If God permits, I will come next year also," Cheriyan said.

The church began organizing the annual celebration specially for twins in 2007, after several twins started attending feast day celebrations earlier, according to parish priest Father Joseph Puthenpura.

They believe that praying to the twin saints will help them progress in life and overcome difficulties, he said.

Only 35 pairs of twins attended the feast in 2007 but that number increased to 95 pairs last year. "It has further gone up this year to 151 twins, including six pairs of Hindus," said the 72-year-old priest.

Father Puthenpura said his parish has seen the birth of a total of 55 twins over recent years, an unusually large number for a parish with 702 families. He said many parishioners believe twins are a blessing of their patron saints.

The church, whose history dates back to 826 AD, was originally named after Sapor and Prot, he said. These men are variedly projected as Chaldean bishops, or as saintly men or merchants from Syria, who helped Christians establish themselves on the Kerala coast in the ninth or 10th Century.

In the 16th Century, when Portuguese missioners began to evangelize Kerala, they attempted to "Latinize" the church here and renamed it after the martyr-saints Gravasis and Prothasis of Milan