This stately church is the first European house of worship in India. The Portuguese flag first appeared in Fort Cochin in 1500, and Vasco da Gama arrived in 1502. The following year, Afonso de Albuquerque came with half a dozen ships full of settlers—he built the fort, and five friars in the crowd built this church in 1510. Da Gama returned in 1524 (his third trip) as Portuguese viceroy of the Indies, died that same year, and was buried in this church. You can still visit his gravestone inside the church, but his remains were shipped back 14 years later to Lisbon in 1538.
The church's history reflects the European struggle for colonial turf in India. It was a Catholic church until 1664, when it became a Dutch Reform church; it later became Anglican (1804–1947) and is now part of the Church of South India. Inside are beautifully engraved Dutch and Portuguese tombstones and the doep boek, a register of baptisms and marriages between 1751 and 1894; you can view a photographic reproduction—the original is too fragile. The first Portuguese was buried in 1562 and the first Dutch in 1664—their epitaphs are on view.