St. Thomas, the Apostle of Christ landed in AD 52 at Kodungalur, the first centuary west coast harbour of Kerala (Pliny’s Primum Emporium India) and went on to establish seven churches for the faithful he evangelised in Kerala. Only one of the seven churches could claim continuous existence in the same location from the time of the Apostle. The church at Palayur is unique in that the present church has a continuous history of two millennia and stands on the same spot where Apostle first established it. The first church founded by St. Thomas continued to exist for many centuries and we know that in 1607 the Italian Jesuit Fr. Permission from the ecclesiastical authorities, to construct a more convenient church around the existing old structure for the parish of Palayur.
The Thrissur Archdiocesan authorities are today wholeheartedly committed to the cause of developing Palayur into the focus of national and international pilgrim tourism in South India. The Palayur church was elevated as the first Archdiocesan pilgrim centre on 16th April 2000. The relic of St. Thomas conveyed from Ortona, Italy was established in the main altar of the church. The 30 km long annual Lenten Mahatheerthadanam or great pilgrimage on foot from the Thrissur to Palayur has conducted in every year.
In true Kerala tradition the Palayur pilgrim complex together with the Guruvayur temple and Manathala Masjid form a sacred triangle of religious harmony and communal amity embrassing the Arabian sea and the Chettuvai Azhimugham with the elephant resort at Guruvayur providing the incomparable site of source of domesticated elephant.