Velankanni is a sacred town of Tamil Nadu where the famous Church of Our Lady of Health is located, in the 12 km south of Nagapattinam on the Coramandal Coast.
Photo courtesy: St. Mary's Church, -creative common via: Wikipedia
Velankanni Church is dedicated to Our Lady of Health. Every day thousands of pilgrims visit this Church seeking the blessings of the shrine. The Church is built in Goethic style of architecture and with sky-reaching towers. The Church is also known as the 'Mecca of the Christians', 'Sacred Arogya Matha Church' and 'Lourdes of the East'. Devotees from all faiths visit here for curing their ailments.
There is a hall of Museum where the offerings are displayed. This church is considered a very powerful holy place in India. For many people, their medical ailments are cured here. It is believed that the prayers of devotees with true heart will be rewarded here.
It is believed that sometime in 16th century, Virgin Mary had appeared to a shepherd boy when he was resting under a Banyan tree near a pond, and asked him for milk to quench the thirst of her infant son. The shepherd gave her the milk and returned to his master only to see that the milk vessel kept filling up with milk, following which a small chapel was built on the spot. The pond is later known as 'Matha Kulam'. Again in 16th century Mother Mary appeared before a lame boy and healed him, following that the actual church was constructed.
A few years later, Portuguese merchant sailors were rescued from a violent storm which wrecked their ship. They were taken by the local fishermen to the local thatched chapel and as a mark of their gratitude they built a permanent church there.
St.Mary's Feast which is celebrated on 8th of September every year, attracts about 1.5 million visitors.
The Festival comments on 29th of August every year with the hoisting of the flag and on the 10th day it ends after the dismounting of the flag. During the festival time, Holy masses are conducted in at least eight languages, Tamil, English, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Konkani, Hindi and Marathi.
Though the Church can be visited throughout the year, you can choose your best time, according to your need -
- February,March, October and November - Less crowded.
- Late August to middle of September - Peak season because of festival time.
- April to June - Hot season and crowded because of holiday season.
How to reach here
By Air: Nearest airport is Thiruchirapalli, 165 kms away.
By Train: Nearest railway station is Nagapattinam, which is well connected to major cities.
By Bus: Regular bus services are available from the main cities in Tamil Nadu.