Monday, May 12, 2008

May 13th: India - Our Lady of Vailankanni

Our Lady of Vailankanni is also known as Our Lady of Good Health

Feast Day:
September 8th

Devotion to Our Lady of Good Health of Vailankanni can be traced to the mid-16th century and is attributed to three miracles: the apparition of Mary and the Christ Child to a slumbering shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm. Although all three apparitions resulted in the erection of a shrine to our Lady, it was the promise of the Portuguese sailors that caused a permanent edifice to be built at Vailankanni. The chapel was dedicated on the feast of the Nativity of Mary (Sept. 8), the day of their safe landing. More than 500 years later, the nine-day festival and celebration is still observed and draws nearly 2 million pilgrims. The Shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni, also known as the "Lourdes of the East," is the most frequented holy site in India. (National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington)
You can read more about the story of Vailankanni in this sample chapter from The Other Faces of Mary by Ann Ball: Vailankanni Arokia Matha. This Marianland page includes another retelling of the story, a map of the Basilica of Vailankanni, and a DVD available for purchase (Vailankanni: the Lourdes of the East).

I found two websites dedicated to Vailankanni: Our Lady of Health, Vailankanni and Annai Vailankanni. Both have photo galleries of the shrine, and you the first site includes a novena prayer.

This Asia News report describes a pilgrimage to Vailankanni. Here is an extract:

Selvam Victor, 43, led a group of 12 from Chennai, the Tamil Nadu capital, 2,100 kilometres south of New Delhi. "We take this journey of faith to express our love and devotion to the Blessed Mother. This journey is difficult and tiring, but the number of pilgrims walking every year has only increased”.

As preparation for the pilgrimage, Victor, an electrician, turned vegetarian and did not shave or cut his hair. He wore saffron, the colour denoting renunciation, and attended daily Mass.

After walking for three hours, Victor's group reached Tamara, on Chennai's outskirts, where they rested in a temporary shelter put up by local Catholics. After resting and filling up water bottles, the group resumed the walk, praying the rosary in Tamil. The group would stop at many more places during their 11-day walk.

The prayer to Our Lady of Vailankanni below is taken from the website of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where there is a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Vailankanni.

O Most Holy Virgin!
You were chosen
by the most adorable Trinity
from all eternity
to be the most pure Mother of Jesus.
O Tender Mother of the afflicted,
grant me under my present necessities
a special protection.
Relying upon the infinite mercies
of your Divine Son,
and penetrated with confidence
in your powerful prayers,
I humbly entreat you to intercede for me.
I beg you to obtain for me
the favors which I petition.

O Mother of God,
accept my salutations
in union with the respect
with which the angel Gabriel
first hailed you "full of grace."

I beseech you,
O comfortress of the afflicted,
to obtain for me the favors and graces,
which I have now implored
through your powerful intercession.
For this end I offer you
the good works I do and sufferings I endure.
I humbly entreat you
for the love of the amiable heart of Jesus
with which yours
was ever so inflamed
to hear our prayers
and obtain our requests.

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