The Vailankanni Church, popular as the ‘Lourdes of the East’, is a place of reverence to Mary, Our Lady of Health (Sacred Arogya Matha Church). This minor basilica is located in Vailankanni, a small town on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.
It’s the serenity of this white marvel which leaves the visitors mesmerized. An artistic creation of the late 16th century, the church reflects the Gothic style of architecture.
The beauty of the church is enhanced with adornments during the Arokkiya Matha festival, which is celebrated from 29 August to 8 September. The celebration witnesses the presence of over 500,000 devotees on 8 September every year.
This majestic shrine is famous for the myths of miraculous healing powers of Mother Mary, which can be heard from the visitors as well as read in the testimonials in the shrine museum.
The faith in the Mother here is so strong here that candles offered by the pilgrims are in shape of the organ which the devotee wants to cure: heart, lungs, liver and many others. Once the devotee is blessed and the disease is cured, he/she offers a silver or golden replica of the cured organ to the Lady of Health.
The church witnessed a miracle during the natural disaster of 2004. A tsunami devastated most of the areas of the Vailankanni town, but the shrine resisted the fury, saving 2,000 pilgrims. It is believed that it was Our Lady of Health who protected Her children inside the shrine.
The shrine must be visited as the divine bliss experienced in and around the church is worth treasuring all your life.