Our Lady of Good Health, who is the center of this 9-day Novena up to September 8th, is also known as Our Lady of Vailankanni (Vay-lun-kun-nee), particularly in India where she appeared in the south Indian State of Tamil Nadu in the sixteenth century. In that location now, is the famous pilgrimage site, The Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health Church and Complex at Vailankanni, India.
There are several Marian shrines across the world that faithful pilgrims and devotees flock to for the intercession of Our Lady of Good Health, especially including those in Lourdes, France and Vailankanni. At these shrines, the faithful appeal to the Blessed Mother’s maternal care, love and healing of her earthly children by interceding for them to her son, Jesus Christ.
In the Tamil language of Tamil Nadu, India, she is called “Annai Velankanni” or “Velankanni Mata (or “Amma”)” (both of which mean Mother) showing her status as the follower’s mother, in addition to Jesus’ mother.
Our Lady appeared in Vailankanni, India three times during the latter part of the sixteenth century and miracles of healing are attributed to her. The Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health Church at Vailankanni is also called “Lourdes of the East”. This Marian site, like Lourdes in France, draws millions of pilgrims throughout the year praying to Our Lady for various needs including healing. The Shrine complex is located in a beautiful area of the southeast coast of India adjacent to the Bay of Bengal and contains several churches and sacred sites.
Apparitions of Our Lady at Vailankanni
The following is summarized (or excerpted directly) from a plaque for a statue of Our Lady of Good Health in the Cathedral of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. which was dedicated on August 16, 1997 by The Most Reverend Agostino Cacciavillan, Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the United States, as well as a description from motherofmiraclesdc.org.
Christianity has flourished in India since its introduction by Saint Thomas the Apostle in 52 A.D. Our Blessed Mother Mary appeared three times at Vailankanni, a village in southern India on the Bay of Bengal. Oral tradition describes Our Lady’s apparitions as follows:
A Hindu boy delivering milk stopped to rest under a banyan tree on the banks of a pond, where he fell asleep. He awoke to see Our Lady, who requested milk for her Son. The boy hesitated, as he didn’t want to give some of his customer’s milk, but later obliged. When he reached his customer’s home, the boy apologized for his lateness and the reduced amount of milk in his pot by relating the incident that had occurred along the way. On inspection, he was surprised to find his milk pot overflowing and realized that something miraculous had happened. That man, also a Hindu, wanted to see the place where the apparition happened, accompanied the boy. When they reached the pond, Our Lady appeared once again. On learning that it was Our Lady who appeared to the boy, the residents of the local Catholic community became ecstatic. The pond was named Our Mother’s Pond or “Madha Kulam”.
Mary appeared to a boy with a disabled leg selling buttermilk outside Vailankanni to support himself and his mother. She asked for some for her infant Son. The boy complied, and he was miraculously cured. Mary asked him to tell a certain Catholic man in Nagapattinam of her visitation. The previous night, Mary had appeared in this man’s dream, expressing a desire that a chapel be built. In Mary’s honor, the man erected a thatched chapel in Vailankanni. Commemorating the miraculous cure, Mary was called Mother of Good Health, “Arokia Madha”.
Portuguese seamen, sailing home from Macao, China encountered a violent storm, were shipwrecked near Colombo, Sri Lanka. They prayed to Mary and miraculously were washed ashore near Vailankanni where they were taken by local fisherman to the thatched chapel. In gratitude, they built a permanent chapel in which they placed a statue of Mary wearing a sari.
Most churches in India have a statue or shrine dedicated to our Lady of Good Health because of the great devotion and admiration of the Indian people, Catholics and non-Catholics, to this special title of the Blessed Virgin Mary (or Mother Mary as she is frequently referred to in India).
See some of the images of Our Lady of Vailankanni in India (and Washington, D.C.) at https://churchwonders.com/india-churches/our-lady-of-vailankanni-across-india/
Hear more about Our Lady of Vailankanni in the Homily in the Mass for Day 3 of the 9-day Novena to Our Lady of Good Health facilitated by the Archdiocese of Bangalore at St. Mary’s Minor Basilica in Bangalore, India which is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64S2-rNRrNM
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Archdiocese of Bangalore – https://www.bangalorearchdiocese.org/
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – https://www.nationalshrine.org/
Official Site of the Shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni in India – http://www.vailankannishrine.net/
Vailankanni Oratory at the National Shrine, Washington D.C. – http://motherofmiraclesdc.org/