The sun was blazing as we hopped out of the bus. I quickly made a beeline for the shade, had a sip of water, wiped the sweat and decided to forge ahead to explore the Church. Situated in Nagapattinam District, along the Coromandel Coast. The most famous significant Roman Catholic shrine dedicated to Our lady of Good Health.
This is probably the only church where people across religions visit. With a rich history dating back to the mid 16th century, there is a legend that is attributed to 3 miracles: the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, the apparition of Mary & Jesus to a shepherd boy, and the survival of Portuguese sailors who had been assaulted by a violent storm while out in the sea.
As i walked around the Church, the stark resemblence of Gothic style architecture stood out.It is quite imposing building that almost seems to reach the skies. All the buildings are painted in white, but if you look up, you will notice the roof is made of red tiles.
There is also a replica of this church in Chennai, at one end of the Besant Nagar beach, where you will find crowds thronging to say a prayer on Sundays and other special days. My granpa believes in the powers of the Mother Mary hailing at Velankanni Church deeply.. Infact, if anyone at home is ill, including the cow or the dog, he immediately sends a contribution with a letter, and receives a word of thanks along with a photograph of the Mother.. He believes the Mother has helped him tide over quite a few difficult situations. So, it was a special moment for me visiting the church, and being in the main chapel. I lit a few candles, one for each member of the family, and one for friends, said a prayer before moving on.
I also noticed a row of shops just outside where they sold small metal pieces of eyes, legs, human figure and many others. Apparently, if you have an ailment in the eye, you drop a eye piece in the donation box, and there is one of a couple, meant for those eager to get married :-)
The church took quite a beating during the 2006 Tsunami, with many devotees being washed away. And that is when they had to rebuild pieces of the church, and today it looks just as amazing as it did before.. [yes, i did manage to do a visit post the Tsunami with friends]
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