Known as “the Lourdes of the East,” the devotion to Our Lady of Good Health (Vailankanni) comes from India. As much of the world still struggles with coronavirus, we look to Our Lady of Good Health for comfort, healing, protection, and strength. We pray for the healing of those affected physically and mentally, protection for those who do not have immunity, and grace as we endure the challenges of lockdown restrictions.
The Devotion of Our Lady of Vailankanni
Devotion to Our Lady of Good Health dates back to the 16th century, when Mary manifested herself three times to the faithful in Vailankanni, providing healing and protection. On the first occasion, Mary appeared with the Christ Child to a young shepherd boy. On the second, she came to a young buttermilk vendor and asked him if he would give her buttermilk for her child. When he kindly assented, she asked him to deliver a message to a man in the next town, requesting the construction of a shrine to the Blessed Mother on the site of her appearance. Though the boy had been lame all his life, he was suddenly healed and was able to run and deliver the message.
The third occurrence was the miraculous rescue of a ship of Portuguese sailors who were caught in a violent storm off the coast of India. When they were brought safely to shore at Vailankanni on the Nativity of Our Lady, the faithful of the city saw it as further proof of her presence there. Grateful for their rescue, the sailors turned the small thatched chapel at Vailankanni into a stone church to honor the Blessed Mother.
Take a Virtual Tour of the Oratory
Our Lady of Vailankanni is honored in an oratory in the Crypt Level of the Basilica. Surrounded by brilliant blue tile, the statue in the chapel is a replica of the original in the Shrine of Vailankanni, and was crowned and consecrated in Vailankanni before it was brought here to the Basilica. Marble reliefs in the chapel depict the stories of the three miracles of Vailankanni, while the rounded brass ceiling shimmers above. A multi-colored marble floor gives the appearance of an Indian rug, with the Indian flag incorporated into the pattern.
Tour the Chapel virtually below.
Prayer to Our Lady of Vailankanni
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the world, we lift up all those in need of healing and protection in prayer:
O Mary! Our Mother of Health and Our Heavenly Queen, seated on your throne of mercy and compassion in your Holy Shrine at Vailankanni, we praise and honor you to be our refuge and our relief. Numerous are the sick who through you have recovered health. Relying on your power and goodness, we fly to you and implore you to heal our infirmities and to obtain for us perfect health of body and soul, that we may better be able to serve you and your Divine Son. At all times you have been the help and consolation of the sick. You obtain for them health, when it is conducive to their salvation. You assist them at time of their death. Help them O Most amiable Mother and obtain for us cure from all our sufferings, or patience to endure them in the spirit of resignation agreeable to God’s Holy Will, so that all our trials and sufferings may help to purify our souls and help us to detach ourselves from earthly ties. Amen.
Basilica Guide and Tour Book, Dr. Geraldine Rohling