SHIMMERING silver tinsel, colourful umbrellas and two symbolic cardboard elephants decorated the front of a city centre church to celebrate the feast of St Thomas and St Alphonsa.

Hundreds of people joined the celebrations which included a brightly-coloured procession that made its way from St George's Catholic Church, Sansome Place, through the city streets on Saturday afternoon.

Preparations for the feast began on Monday when a flag was hoisted by parish priest Father Brian McGinley.

A holy mass and St Alphonsa Novena was also held over five days.

Saturday's celebration began with a mass at 3pm led by Father Thomas Paradiyil, Syro-Malabar coordinator England and Wales, and co-celebrants Father Joseph Karukayil, Father Brian and Father Wilfred Pereppadan.

Almost 350 Syro-Malabar Catholics took part in the celebration along with parishioners from St George's Catholic Church and others from across the country.

Saint Alphonsa is the first native saint from India.

Since 2006, the feast of St Thomas and St Alphonsa has been celebrated at St George's following the Syro-Malabar tradition.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is one of the 22 Eastern (Oriental) Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome.

It is the second largest Eastern Catholic Church after the Ukrainian Church and the largest of the Saint Thomas Christian (Nazrani) denominations with 4.6 million believers.