Our Lady of Good Health (Feastday every Sept.8) also known as Our Lady of Vailankanni is a celebrated Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary believed to have appeared in the town of Velankanni, Tamil Nadu, India. Traditional beliefs surrounding the Marian apparition is held to have occurred to a young boy delivering milk goods to the neighborhood when the Virgin Mary, carrying a child Jesus, is said to have appeared and asked him for some milk.
A Basilica was erected by Portuguese and Indians presently standing in the site of the miraculous event. The iconic depiction of the Madonna is also unique since it is one of two only icons where Mary is portrayed wearing an Indian Sari costume, while the other statue is said to have been buried with Emperor Aurangzeb. The basilica is known for its pilgrims from all over India and its assembly of multilingual prayers every Christmas.
Many Indian Catholics have great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this title, dubbing the Marian apparition as “Lourdes of the Orient” due to the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who flock its sanctuary on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary (8 September).
As part of the Indian tradition, believers customarily throw flower petals to the image, light incense, while others bring occasional goods and offerings to the church as a donation for one’s personal petitions.
Reputed miraculous events
The first of the apparitions in Vailankanni is claimed to be to a Hindu boy in the mid 16th century. It is said that while he rested under a native banyan tree near a pond, a woman appeared to him and requested milk for her son. The boy readily agreed. On reaching the customer’s home, the boy apologized for his lateness and the reduced amount of milk and related the incident that occurred on his way. However, upon inspection of his order, the man found the milk pot to be full and was convinced that something miraculous should have happened. Together the man, also a Hindu, and the boy returned to the place where the apparition had occurred. When they reached the pond, the woman appeared once again. On learning that it was Mary, mother of Jesus, who appeared to the boy, the residents of the local Catholic community became ecstatic and promptly renamed the pond Matha Kulam (“Our Lady’s Pond”).
The second happened in the later end of the 16th century, it is believed that Mary appeared to a crippled boy (and also a son of a widow) in a place called Nadu Thittu, once again in the same town of Velankanni. The boy is claimed to have offered her buttermilk and then cured of his illness. The boy was commanded by Mary to inform a Catholic gentleman in the nearby town of Nagapattinam. The first thatched shrine was built by this Catholic gentleman.
The third event happened in the 17th century, a Portuguese merchant vessel, sailing from Macau in China to Colombo in Sri Lanka was caught in a tempest in the Bay of Bengal. The sailors at the point of desolation vowed to build a chapel in her name wherever they could reach safe. The legends claim that stormy sea became quiet and their ship reached the shore of Vailankanni on 8 September, the Birthday of Mary. In fulfillment of their vow, the Portuguese sailors put up a chapel at Vailankanni by transforming the earlier thatched chapel.
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 for in this novena.
(Here specify your requests)
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 prayers and obtain my requests. Amen.
Recite the Hail Mary (Recite 3 times)
“Our Lady of Good Health……………… Pray for us.” (Repeat 3 times)