Palayam was actually the place where the royal army had its base. The name Palayam was coined from this earlier army link. With the missionaries arrival the small town of Thiruvananthapuram thrived with Catholic population. They were in search of a place of worship.
The earliest buds of development of the church at Palayam happened in the year 1858. It was in this year the missionary priest Fr. Francis Miranda brought two pieces of land. Records says that the land was brought from two persons named Shankaralinkam Nallumadan Pandit and Veelayudhan Pathmanabhan Pandit. It is truly amazing to see that this Gothic enormous Cathedral really had humble beginning in a thatched building. The church remained in that humble state for another few years. During that time there were neither regular services, nor residing priests.
The foundation for a small church was laid on October, 10th 1864, by the same Fr. Francis Miranda. The original plan comprises of a shorter aisles. It did not involve also the present Gothic style facade.
After him it was Fr. Mary Victor OCD, who continued the construction works. Fr. Emigius in the year 1873 completed the work (Rev. Eldafonse later became the bishop of Quilon). On may 4th, 1873, Palayam St. Joseph’s Church was consecrated by the Apostolic Vicar of Quilon Diocese Rt. Rev. Mons. Eldafonce Bornja OCD. During that time the parish population was around1000.
After this, a major extension and renovation occurred in 1921 during the time of Fr. Paschasius OCD. Both the sides of the church extended and the church now has the form of a Latin cross. In the same year the statue of St. Joseph’s which is now placed over the main altar is brought from Italy. Most of the statues of the Cathedral are actually imported ones. The statue of Christ blessing with both the hands, is also an imported one.
In 1924, a Belgian lady donated four big church bells. Since the church didn’t have the facade nor the bell tower, those bells were displayed in front of the altar. It was during the same period of Bishop Benzigar that the pastoral service of the Church was given to Carmelite missionaries until 1947. In 1927 Fr. Xavier OCD. Started the work on the beautiful, Gothic style facade of the church. The documents says that the estimate for this facade was calculated as 10,000 r.s. The whole expenses were met by the parishioners who work inside and outside the nation. This hectic work was completed within the six years from its beginning.