St.Antony’s Shrine is located at Uvari, a fishing hamlet in Tirunelveli District of Tamilnadu State, South India.. Uvari is the only place in Tamilnadu that has St.Antony’s Shrine beside the sea. St.Antony’s Shrine in Uvari is geographically positioned at 8.275601, 77.890567 or 8°16’32.2″N 77°53’26.0″E. According to Ancient Indian History, Coastal People were called Bharathars of the Neithal (ocean) land. The Historical Name of Uvari was OBEER PATTANAM which was ruled by the Pandiyan Dynasty, before they were converted by Portuguese. (Example: for the same reason fish symbol kept on Pandya’s Flag).
More recently, In the year 1530s, Portuguese and Spanish Missionaries had a strong influence when the Bharathars converted to Christianity as Roman Catholics. The priests, acting as god fathers, gave surnames such as Fernando to all Roman Catholic Bharathars as they were converted by the Portuguese Missionaries.
According to Local Myths, a crew of a Portuguese Ship which sailed near Uvari about 450 years ago, contracted Cholera. In an attempt to avert death, the ship’s carpenter carved an image of Saint Antony from a block of wood. Soon after, the entire crew regained its health. When the ship docked at Uvari, the sailors set up the statue inside a hut in the village. In the 1940s, the villagers built a church with the original statue of St.Antony holding Infant Jesus in his hand, on the altar. ST.ANTONY is said to perform many miracles daily, therefore the church was upgraded to SHRINE. Uvari, St.Antony’s Shrine is visited by Pilgrims of all Religions from all over South India.
St.Antony’s Shrine has two important Feast Celebrations every year. From June 1 to 13, Uvari is the venue for a special Feast Celebrations by the local people and thousands of people from the neighbourhood, participate in the celebrations. The other Feast Celebration of St.Antony’s Shrine occurs in the last week of January or in the first week of February every year. It starts three Sundays before Ash Wednesday and lasts for 13 days. Blessed Oil using Mixed with Neem, is given for the devotees. Devotees apply that oil in their head and some drink it. They believe that their sickness will be cured.
Uvari is located at about 8 Kms from Tisaiyanvilai, 40 Kms from Nanguneri, 70 Kms from Tirunelveli, 78 Kms from Thoothukudi, 136 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram and 220 Kms from Madurai. Nearest Railway Station is located at Nanguneri. Nearest Airport is located at Thiruvananthapuram, Thoothukudi and Madurai.