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.