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Velankanni Church

Velankanni Church - Festival Time

Velankanni can be traced to the mid-16th century and is attributed to three miracles: the apparition of Mary and the Christ Child to a slumbering shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm.

Although all three apparitions resulted in the erection of a shrine to our Lady, it was the promise of the Portuguese sailors that caused a permanent edifice to be built at Velankanni. The chapel was dedicated on the feast of the Nativity of Mary (8 September), the day of their safe landing. More than 500 years later, the nine-day festival and celebration is still observed and draws nearly 2 million pilgrims each year. The Shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni, also known as the "Lourdes of the East", is one of the most frequented religious sites in India. Vailankanni church (Our Lady of Good Health) was built in the late 16th century CE with modifications by Portuguese and further expansions later on due to influx of pilgrimages.

The Gothic style of architecture is a unique feature of the church. The church itself is an imposing building with inspiring architecture. While the buildings have been painted white, roof of the church is made by the tiles with striking red in contrast to the colour of the walls. The environment around the shrine is spic and span radiating rays of hope and piety.

As a token of gratitude to Mother Mary, Portuguese sailors who escaped from a severe cyclone, built the chapel 24 feet to 12 feet with a dome overhead. In their possible subsequent visits, perhaps they brought porcelain plates, which could be seen even now illustrating bible scenes and other cultural arts of the time, to beautify the Church they had built earlier. The main statue that they had brought to the altar of the Shrine was Our Lady holding the Baby Jesus, standing majestically on the globe.

In the year 1771, Vailankanni acquired the status of a Parish with Fr. Antonio de Rozario as the First Parish Priest.

Basilica (Extension) of Our Lady of Good HealthVailankanni church was raised to the status of basilica in 1962 by His Holiness Pope John XXIII.

Festivals are celebrated here with all pomp and gaiety. Every year on August 29 the feast of our lady commences with the hoisting of the flag and on the 10th day it ends after the dismounting of the flag. A conservative estimate of the crowd is around 1.5 million on these days (Fifteen hundred thousands). Hotels and houses will be overcrowded during these days and people used to sleep in the open air. Holy masses are conducted in at least eight languages, Tamil, English, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Konkani, Hindi and Marathi.