Arthunkal is a small seaside township in Cherthala taluk, about 8 kilometer west of Cherthala and 22 kilometre north of the Alappuzha town, in the Alappuzha district of Kerala state, South India..Arthunkal is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Kerala. It is considered as a holy land by hundreds of thousands of followers of Christian as well as other faith. The village is synonymous for its church, which has the Roman martyr Saint Sebastian as its patron. The feast of St. Sebastian in Arthunkal is a grand celebration extending for two weeks in January. While the main day of the traditional feast or the perunnal is on January 20, the church authorities have instituted another on January 27, to mark the end of celebrations, locally referred to as “Ettam Perunnal” or 'the 8th day or the feast'. Devotees from all across the state visit the church on the festival days. A march, carrying the graceful statue of St. Sebastian, from the church to the beach and back, is the most important event of the feast. Interestingly, an eagle is seen roaming the skies, every year during the time of the procession.
This eagle too has become part of the grandmother stories, about the presence of St. Sebastian as a guardian saint for the village.The church, officially 'Arthunkal St. Andrew's Forane Church', was originally built by the Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century. It has a fascinating history.The church was rebuilt in 1584, under the then vicar Fr. Jacoma Fenicio, whom the devotees claim, possessed magical powers to heal the body and mind. Devotees fondly referred to him as Arthunkal Veluthachan, which in English translates to fair skinned father. Fr. Fenicio died in 1632. Eight years after his death, the church was rebuilt again, this time facing the west towards the long white-sand beach on the shores of the Arabian Sea.
In 1647, the idol of St. Sebastian, struck with arrows all over his bleeding body (he was executed at the order of the Roman emperor for embracing Christian faith) sculptured in Milan, was brought and placed in the Arthunkal church. Arthunkal St Andrews Forane Church, the first Parish of the Diocese of Alleppey has been elevated to the status of Basilica on 9 July 2010. Arthunkal Basilica will become the first Basilica in the diocese of Alleppey and the 7th Basilica in Kerala. It will become the 3rd Basilica on the Roman Catholic(Latin Rite) church of Kerala.