Sunday Shrine 2/23

The original is in India. We are everywhere...

By Vailankanni.Novena (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Or, how a little piece of San Francisco takes us to India.

This is an Our Lady of  Vailankanni (say that x3 fast!) or, Our Lady of Health. This particular shrine is in San Francisco, but the original is in India.  There is an interesting story about the apparitions that are associated with this image. It is known as Lourdes of the East.  It all starts around 1550, a young boy hauling milk took a rest underneath a banyan tree. That would be, one of these.

This tree is in Tamil territory. Is this the same banyan tree?

By Sengai Podhuvan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As he is there refreshing himself, he looks over to discover a woman holding a divine infant. She asks him for milk for her son.  He offers some to her. She thanks him, and he takes off to see his master.  As this boy is late, and has some fantastic story, the master is not impressed. He opens the milk jar to find that it is full, even surges out when he pours as if over full, which never happens.  He then asks the boy to take him where this took place. On reaching the place, he begins to believe the boy. The place start’s being called “the Lady’s Tank”, after the body of clean water near by.

But that’s only the beginning of these events.

Years Later, (around 1600) a poor widow sent her son to sell buttermilk in Vailankanni. Only this time, he’s on a hill by a road, yet under a banyan tree.  Once again, he takes a rest only to see a beautiful gleaming lady with a divine child who asks him for some milk for her son. She also tells him to go to a well-off Catholic man’s house near by, and tell him that she will tell him where she wants a shrine built in her honor, but God’s glory.  She tells him she wants the shrine where the vision takes place. In his excitement, the boy rushes off, only to discover that his affliction has been healed as he is running.

By BrownyCat (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

He gets to this Catholic man’s house in Nagapattinam only to discover that he had a vision the previous day telling him that a messenger would come to him to tell him where a shrine should go.

So he showed him the hill where the vision was had, and the man ordered a thatched roof shrine to be placed there immediately.

Vailankannithe processionary way to Our Lady of

By Sajanjs (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Later still, on Sept. 8, 1650, some Portuguese merchants were ambushed by a freak storm in the bay of Bengal. It’s fierceness ravaged the vessel. They prayed freverently for rescue, for any open port, and in their desperation promised to build a church where they should land.

Not exactly a Portuguese fishing boat, but close enough.

By Sukumaran sundar (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This is Velankanni beach.

By Jpullokaran (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


I suppose I telegraphed it a bit. They wound up on the beach of Vailankanni. Their boat was completely destroyed, but all the sailors and passengers escaped with their lives. Not long after they landed, the happened upon the thatched roof shrine on  ‘Nadu Thittu’ hill.  There they chose to build their church.  Later it was made into a basilica by Pope John XIII. I think I will have more pictures of this shrine (if I can find interior shots) on September 8.

The original Velankanni chapel, built by the Portuguese.

By Sajanjs (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsCredits: I owe Miracle Hunter . Net and The  Vailankanni church and
the Official Shrine Website for this information.

Wikimedia Commons, as usual, provided the pics.


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