Velankanni and its Shrine
Velankanni has one of the country's biggest Catholic pilgrimage centers, the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. Devoted to Velankanni Our Lady of Good Health, it is popularly known as the "Lourdes of the East"
Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health - Velankanni
The Roman Catholic Latin Rite Basilica devoted to Our Lady of Good Health. Devotion to Our Lady of Good Health of Velankanni can be traced to the mid-16th century.
"Love our lady, And she will obtain abundant grace to help and conquer in your daily Struggle"
The iconic depiction of the Madonna is unique in that it is one of two only icons where Mary is portrayed wearing an Indian Saree, while the other statue is said to have been buried with Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor . The basilica is known as a site for pilgrims from all over India and its assembly of multilingual prayers every Christmas.
Gothic style of architecture
The Basilica built in the Gothic style of architecture. The southern side was extended in 1928 and the northern in 1933. The Shrine Basilica contains three chapels, as well as Our Lady's Tank, Church Museum, Priests' Residence, Offering Center, Stations of the Cross, Stations of the Rosary, Shrine Mega Mahal and Velankanni Beach. The building is painted in white, except for the roof that is made of red tiles.
The shrine of Velankanni elevated to the status of 'Minor Basilica' and merged with the Major Basilica of Mary (Mary majore) in Rome on 3 November 1962 by Pope John XXIII.
“It is impossible to save one’s soul without devotion to marry and without her protection”
The Land of Miracles
- The apparition of Mary and the Christ Child to a slumbering shepherd boy,
- The curing of a lame buttermilk vendor
- The rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm.
First Apparition OF Mary
Approximately 400 years ago, there was a small pond and on its bank was a huge banyan tree. A shepherd boy from Velankanni used to carry milk every day to a rich man in Nagapattinam which is ten kilometers away.
On an unusually hot summer day, the boy, after quenching his thirst with the water from the pond, rested for a while in the shade of the banyan tree which stood beside the pond. Soon the boy fell into a deep slumber.
Suddenly he startled by the vision of a Lady of celestial beauty holding a lovely child in her arms. The boy could not take his eyes off the Lady of unmatched beauty, so spellbound was he by this heavenly vision.
The Lady greeted him with a motherly smile and condescended to ask him for some milk for her child. He joyfully gave her some milk for her child and seeing a bewitching smile spread over the face of the heavenly baby, the boy experienced deep satisfaction.
After he reached the home of the rich man he begged for an excuse for his unusual delay and for the shortage of milk. But, when the lid of the milk pot lifted, lo and behold! the pot was brimming over with milk.
The curing of a lame buttermilk vendor
At the close of the 16th century, there was a poor widow in the village of Velankanni with a son who was congenitally lame. In order to eke out their existence, the lame boy would sell buttermilk at a place known as ‘Nadu Thittu’.
It was a slightly elevated spot and there was a huge banyan tree with outstretched branches. The widow would carry the lame boy and leave at Nadu Thittu with a pot of buttermilk.
The boy sold the buttermilk to weary way-farers who would take shelter from the sweltering heat under the tree. On an extremely hot day the boy was waiting for his customers, but as no one turned up, he was a little disappointed.
But his disappointment turned into joy when, in the twinkling of an eye, he saw a Lady of stunning beauty standing before him, holding a baby of dazzling beauty in her arms. The Mother and Child attired in impeccable white garments.
The Lady looked at the boy with a charming smile and asked him for a cup of buttermilk for the child. Without a moment’s hesitation, the lad gave her a cup of buttermilk as he considered it a great honor and privilege to render a little hospitality to his seemingly ethereal visitors.
With a sense of deep satisfaction, the boy saw the Lady feeding her child with the buttermilk he had offered her. The Lady then cast a benevolent look at the lame boy and turned towards her Divine Child in her arms as if entreating him to heal the crippled lad. The Mother’s silent request instantaneously answered.
"IF God brings you to it he will bring you through it"
The rescue of Portuguese sailors
A few years later, Our Merciful Mother rescued a few Portuguese merchant sailors from a violent storm, which wrecked their ship. When the merchants reached the shore of Velankanni, local fishermen took them to the thatched chapel.
To give thanks and pay tribute to Our Lady, they built a small permanent chapel on their return trip. On subsequent visits, they improved on it.
The merchants dedicated the chapel to Our Lady on September 8th to celebrate the feast of her nativity and to mark the date of their safe landing to Velankanni.