There are three major events associated with Our Lady of Good of Health in Vailankanni. The Virgin Mary is said by tradition to have appeared to a shephered boy named Tamil Krishnannesti Sankaranaranayam who offered her child milk. She is subsequently said to have appeared to and healed a crippled boy selling buttermilk. A group of Portuguese sailors attribute being saved from a violent storm to her intercession. They constructed a larger chapel at their landing spot in Vailankanni.
A shepherd boy named Tamil Krishnannesti Sankaranaranayam was performing his usual duty of carrying milk from Vailankanni to his master at Nagapattinam. Despite the morning freshness, fatigue overcame him as he was passing by a water pond at the Anna pillai street at Vailankanni. Placing the milk-pot near the banyan tree by the water pond, the boy fell into an unusual slumber, only to be startled to his feet by the sweet vision of a beautiful Lady holding in her hand a most charming child of divine appearance. As the boy was still taken by surprise, the Lady asked for some milk for her child which the boy then reverently offered.
The impatient master did not believe the story of the boy. But to the greater astonishment of all present, the milk began to surge over the pot and flow out. On reaching the place of apparition, the gentleman and others began to believe in the her appearance. This place began to be called, “Matha Kulam” (Our Lady’s Tank).
Around the end of the 16th century, a poor widow and her lame son lived in Vailankanni. Every day the lame boy used to sit under a banyan tree at a place called ‘Nadu Thittu’ (central mound) and sell butter-milk to the thirsty wayfarers. One day, a very bright light appeared in front of him and from amidst the light, a Lady of peerless grace with a divine Child in her arms, asked the boy for a cup of butter-milk. Then She directed him to go and inform a catholic gentleman at Nagapattinam to put up a Chapel in her name on the spot of her apparition. The boy realized that his legs had become normal upon the word from the Lady. With great joy, he ran to Nagapattinam to carry out the errand. Having been already directed in a vision by Our Lady, the Catholic gentleman, with the support of the people, built a Chapel at ‘Nadu Thittu’ where now stands the present Shrine Basilica. The Lady was called, ‘Our Lady of Good Health’.
Sep 8, 1650
In the 17th century, a Portuguese merchant vessel was caught in a giant storm in the Bay of Bengal as it was sailing from Macao in China to Colombo in Ceylon.The helpless sailors prayed fervently for Mary the Star of the Sea to save them.
They vowed to build a Church in her name, wherever they could land on. The stormy sea became calm. Their ship landed near the shore of Vailankanni on the 8th September, the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady.
They transformed the thatched Chapel erected by the catholic gentleman of Nagapattinam into a beautiful stone-built Chapel. On their next visit, they decorated the Altar with porcelain plates, illustrating biblical themes. These plates giving testimony to their thanksgiving to Our Lady, are seen even today around the throne of the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Health, over the main altar of the Shrine Basilica. From that time the Feast of Our Lady of Good Health is celebrated every year preceded by hoisting of the flag on August 29th.
Shrine elevated to Minor Basilica 1962