Sometime during the sixteenth century, Our Lady with her infant son appeared to a Hindu boy carrying milk to a customer’s home. While he rested under a Banyan tree near a tank (pond), Our Lady appeared to him and asked for milk for her Son and the boy gave her some. On reaching the customer’s home, the boy apologized for his lateness and the reduced amount of milk by relating the incident that occurred on his way.
On inspection, the man found the milk pot to be full and realized that something miraculous had happened. That man, also a Hindu, wanting to see the place where the apparition occurred, accompanied the boy. When they reached the tank, 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 tank where the apparition took place is called “Matha Kulam” or Our Lady’s tank.
Some years later Our Lady appeared again. This time to a crippled boy who was selling buttermilk near a public square on the outskirts of the same village of Vailankanni. She asked him for buttermilk for her infant Son and the boy compiled. Our Lady asked the boy to inform a certain wealthy Catholic man in the nearby town of Nagapattinam of her appearance. Not realizing that his crippled leg was miraculously cured by Our Lady, the boy rose up and began his journey. The man also had a vision the previous night in which Our Lady asked him to build a chapel for her. Together, the man and the boy returned to the site of the miracle.
This time Our Lady appeared to both. The man erected a thatched chapel for Our Lady at the site of Her second appearance. This chapel became a holy place of veneration to Our Blesses mother and She was called henceforth, Mother of Good Health (“Arokia Matha”).
A few years later, Our Merciful Mother rescued a few Portuguese merchant sailors from a violent storm, which wrecked their ship. When the merchants reached the shore of Vailankanni they were taken by local fisherman to the thatched chapel. To give thanks and pay tribute to Our Lady, they built a small permanent chapel on their return trip. On subsequent visits they improved on it. The merchants dedicated the chapel to Our Lady on September 8th to celebrate the feast of her nativity and to mark the date of their safe landing to Vailankanni.
Historical Data of Vailankanni Shrine
1. The history of Our Lady of Good Health, Vailankanni, dawned in the 16th century
2. In September 1771, Vailankanni which had been a substation of Nagapattinam Parish, was raised to the status of a Parish.
3. The majestic Shrine facing the East, was renovated twice in 1920 and 1933.
4. His Holiness Pope John the XXIII, raised the Shrine to the status of ‘Basilica’ on the 3rd November 1962. The apparitions of Our Lady, the Miraculous statue of Our Lady, the countless miracles, the magnificent architecture and beauty of the Shrine, were the motives for this Shrine to become a Basilica.
5. The storeyed extension Basilica was blessed and opened in 1975.
6. In 1985,the little Chapel at Our Lady’s Tank, was built a new and blessed.