On the eastern coast of Indian state Tamil Nadu a shrine is built and devoted to Our Lady. The shrine is located at Nagapattinam district; in a town named Velankanni.
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Velankanni was much in news when Tsunami had struck eastern coast of Tamil Nadu on 26th of December, 2004. Velankanni was one of the worst affected places. There overlooking the Bay of Bengal is the majestic structure of Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health.
Built in Gothic style it is one of the most visited Roman Catholic Basilica. Nearly 2 million pilgrims visit the shrine each year.
After Tsunami had struck the town of Velankanni, it had engulfed most of the site around the Basilica; but miraculously the shrine had remained untouched, though there was a massive loss of life.
Portuguese sailors had built the shrine at Velankanni to commemorate the apparition of Our Lady in 17th century. Earlier there used to be a chapel, which local Catholic community had built in 16th century. It is one of the notable, but unapproved apparitions. Despite that the shrine has a tremendous mass appeal.
Some of the Roman Catholic approved apparitions are Our Lady of Guadalupe; Our Lady of Laus; Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal; Our Lady of La Salette; Our Lady of Lourdes; Our Lady of Pontmain; Our Lady of Fatima; Our Lady of Beauraing; Our Lady of Banneux; Our Lady of Akita; Our Lady of Zeitoun and Our Lady of Assiut.
At most of these places Virgin Mary had appeared only to one individual. Only at Zeitoun and Assiut thousands had seen her over a period of time.
At Velankanni Our Lady had appeared three times. Devotion of ‘Our Lady of Good Health’ is attributed to three miraculous events that had taken place at three different sites around Basilica.
First Our Lady had appeared to a sleeping shepherd boy. On second occasion she had cured a lame buttermilk vendor. Third time she had rescued drowning Portuguese sailors caught in the middle of a violent sea storm. They landed at Velankanni on 8th of September in the 17th century and they had built a shrine in honor of Mother Mary. They dedicated the shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary. To commemorate the event the people still observe nine-day festival beginning from 8th of September.
Most notable amongst all apparitions is the first apparition in which ‘Our Lady’ had appeared to a Hindu boy. While the boy was going to deliver the milk Our Lady stopped him near a pond and asked him for some milk for her Son. The boy readily obliged and gave her the milk; but the milk he intended to deliver to his customer fell short. He apologized to the customer and gave him less milk; but to their surprise they found that the pot was full. He accompanied the boy to the spot where ‘Our Lady’ had appeared. There ‘Our Lady’ had appeared to the boy once again.
After hearing the story, the residents of local Catholic community had named the pond Matha Kulam; or the Pond of Our Lady.
One can reach Velankanni by road, by train and by Air. Reaching there by train is most convenient. Nearest Railway station is Nagapattinam. From here Velankanni is only 12 kilometers away.
Private hotels and one room cottage houses are easily available to stay at Velankanni at reasonable prices.
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