The construction of the cathedral took place between 2001 and 2004 at a time when Rev. Dr. Mulamoottil was recovering from severe ill health and hospitalization, and at the same time as his founding and development of MACFAST College.
The Diocese offered Rev. Dr. Mulamoottil the assignment of constructing a new Cathedral to replace the one his father had built with the eminent British architect Laurie Baker, which was on the verge of collapse. The present St John’s Cathedral is the fifth replacement cathedral.
St John’s Cathedral is his application of marginal hermeneutics (interpreting tradition from the margins). He broke from tradition by constructing a Church that has a temple-like exterior but conformed to tradition with a conventional Church interior. Some of the traditional aspects (albeit not traditional for a Church) that were integrated with Christian theology to construct the present day St. John’s Cathedral are Kerala Vastuvidya and Vaidika Vastu (i.e. Kerala architecture and temple architecture) and Eastern (Syrian) Christian tradition. At this point it would only be apt to digress and delve into some of the key facets of the St. John’s Cathedral.
The new structure has emerged as a building of monumental value on Kerala’s landscape. It has a more beautiful architectural design, is cost effective, and environment friendly.
A major attraction in the Church’s interior is the depiction of biblical themes in stained glass. Three key premises that are shown through these biblical themes are: God in search of man, man in search of God, and man in search of the Other. His objective in choosing such a structure was to provide a place of leisure, ecumenism, and prayer that facilitates inter-generational and inter-faith interaction.
He has created a mystical Christian space, alluded to in stained glass, all the while sticking to local materials and building techniques and provides for ventilation, so important in south Indian climatic conditions. The altar which has paintings of the 12 apostles behind, gives a dramatic effect with light and shade falling on it from behind, making it glow with almost a halo around it. The proportions and height of the interiors are grand. What these proportions also achieve in terms of acoustic quality is they generate an echo, which again has mystic connotations. The images in the stained glass are important features of the cathedral. The stained glass images depict the story of the Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, The Parable of the 10 Virgins, Sakkeus, Parables of the Lost Sheep and Coins, the Rich Man and Lazarus, and the Last Judgment; important incidents in the life of Jesus from birth until the resurrection.
The Indian influences on the architecture of the cathedral include the shape and space – the sky spaces found between the ‘Goopurams’ shrines have been incorporated. The steeply sloped, vertical roof over this simple and large space of the church gives it the necessary proportions and direction. The outer walls are made of brick and local granite jali, which replicate the effect of the stained glass windows and provide light and ventilation inside the building. The walls of the church are made alternatively with tiles and red laterite stones into which beautiful sculptures are carved out.
St John’s Cathedral has become a land mark, a community centre, where around 2,000 people can be accommodated inside the church.