Velankanni - an important Catholic center

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Velankanni Church Festival

Photo of Velankanni - an important Catholic center by Archana Permi
Photo of Velankanni, Tamil Nadu, India by Archana Permi

About 150Km from Trichy Airport, lies the hamlet of Velankanni- one of the most significant Catholic center in India. The history of Christianity in this small town of Tamil Nadu dates back to the early 16th century, when Vasco-da-Gama brought along eight Franciscan Missionaries with him on his second expedition to India. By 1534, these Portuguese Franciscan Missionaries had found their presence in Nagapattinam, the district where Velankanni is situated. Soon after, the establishment of the Velankanni Church or the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, strengthened the identity of this town as a center of religious significance for Catholics across the country and this sacred hamlet assumed importance at international level. Of all places of worship in Velankanni, the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health deserves special mention due to its sacred foundation and history of reverence.

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health

The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health or locally called the Velankanni Church is the first and the most distinguished church of South India and the oldest Catholic institution of the state of Tamil Nadu. The first chapel of this holy site was built by the Portuguese sailors in early 16th century, when three miraculous events led them to believe the existence and blessing of Holy Mary on this town and its people. Stories are that an apparition of Mother Mary with an infant Jesus appeared at different instances across the village of Nagipattanam, where the town of Velankanni is located. Thus, came into existence this shrine of divine. This holy institution is also referred to as the “Lourdes of the East”, after its European counterpart in Lourdes, France, where thousands of pilgrims throng to be blessed by the divinity of Mary. Fondly called Our Lady of Velankanni this church is believed to synthetize all Marian Sanctuaries in the world.

Photo of Velankanni - an important Catholic center by Archana Permi

Built in the Neo-Gothic design, the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is inspired by the classic European architecture of Lourdes in France. Today, the structure stands tall, imparting a feeling of hope, serenity and peace for devotees from all walks of life and witnesses pilgrims from all cast, creed and languages. Evolving amidst the Indian culture and regional people, this holy site has extended influence of Hinduism and Catholicism thus has grown to be a meeting point of two major religions of the world. Since its inception, 500 years ago, the Velankanni Church observes a nine-day festival where more than 2000 pilgrims visit to celebrate the Holy Mary.

Beaches of Velankanni

Besides the mighty and historic Church, the beaches of Velankanni are equally popular and frequented by visitors. Once you are here, you can take a walk from the church to the Velankanni Beach or the Matha Beach, barely at a distance of 1Km.

Photo of Velankanni - an important Catholic center by Archana Permi

A Pilgrim's Route

Being the most frequented religious sites in India, there are special train services to Velankanni from major cities in South India. If you are traveling by air, you are avail Trichy Airport Taxi service which offers Trichy to Velankanni cabs. You can also rent a car from the airport to traverse the 150Km journey.

This holy town and the sacred shrine will leave you fascinated, positive and hopeful, for faith is magical and for those who believe can see the magic of the divine.

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