Friday, 1 May 2015

VELANKANNI CHURCH, VELANKANNI, TAMIL NADU, INDIA


The church of ‘Our Lady of Good Health’ is situated in the village Velankanni (Vailankanni) of Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu State in India. Earlier the Church was under the Jurisdiction of the Nagapattinam Parish of the Roman Catholic Latin Rite. Later on it was raised to the status of an independent parish in 1771. It is a pilgrim centre visited by many devotees every day.

Devotion to Our Lady of Good Health of Velankanni was started from the middle of the 16th century. It is attributed to three miracles in the area where the Basilica now stands and very close to the newly constructed Morning Star Church. The vision of Mary and the Infant Jesus to a local shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm and the stories behind it are based on tradition and there are no tangible proof in support of it. There is also no statement by the church authorities that these miracles are approved by the Vatican. But pouring crowd with gratitude offerings shows their belief in the miracles. Three memorial chapels are erected in those places.

The first vision is said to have occurred in 1570 A.D., when a local shepherd boy was delivering milk to a nearby house. On the way he met a woman holding an infant. The woman begged for some milk for the little one. Without any hesitation, the shepherd boy offered her the milk and he continued on his way to deliver the balance milk. But later he discovered that the jug was completely full of fresh milk without any decrease when he opened the jug for delivering the milk.

The second vision is said to have occurred in 1597 in the same area. A woman with a young boy in her arms appeared to a young crippled boy selling buttermilk. The little boy with the woman asked for some buttermilk, and after drinking it, they had left. But the same miraculous experience was felt by this buttermilk vender too i.e., no decrease of buttermilk even after selling it to many people. He then started running with his lame leg with joy, but found that he was no more lame and cured fully.
The third incident occurred when a Portuguese ship sailing through the sea was caught in a storm in the Bay of Bengal. They invoked the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title "Morning Star". The storm subsided and the 150 men on board were landed there safely. In thanksgiving, the sailors rebuilt the small chapel and dedicated it to Our Lady of Good Health.

Though there is a railway station at Vailankanni, distant route trains are very rare. Passenger trains are available at intervals. But passenger link train and frequent bus services are available to Nagapattinam which is the main rail head to various places. Taxi, Auto-rickshaw etc. are also available. Nearest Airport to Velankanni is at Tiruchirapalli International Airport at distance of about 160 km. There are accommodation facilities  available under the church administration including A.C romms for pilgrims. Also all types of hotel accommodation is available here.





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