Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, Villianur

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Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, Villianur, Puducherry
தூய லூர்து அன்னை திருத்தலம், வில்லியனூர், புதுச்சேரி
Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, Villianur
11°54′41″N 79°45′38″E / 11.911262°N 79.760664°E / 11.911262; 79.760664Coordinates: 11°54′41″N 79°45′38″E / 11.911262°N 79.760664°E / 11.911262; 79.760664
Location Villianur, Puducherry
Country India
Denomination Catholic
Website www.villianurshrine.com
Founded 8 April 1877 (1877-04-08)
Dedication Our Lady of Lourdes
Events 8, May 1886 - The statue was crowned in the name of Pope Leo XIII, and permanent plenary indulgence attached, declared as a Shrine.
Status Parish church and Marian shrine
Functional status Active
Architect(s) Fr. Tarbes, M.E.P
Architectural type Chapel
Style Gothic Revival
Groundbreaking 1866
Parish Villianur
Archdiocese Pondicherry and Cuddalore
Archbishop Rev. Mgr. Antony Anandarayar
Priest(s) Fr. S. Richard

Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine is a famous Marian shrine located in Villianur Town, Puducherry. This Roman Catholic shrine is devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes.

History of the Shrine According to Catholic Sources[edit]

A rare old picture of the shrine

In 1867, the MEP missionaries in Puducherry wished to build a Chapel at Villianur which is 13 kilometers from Pondicherry, on the road to Villupuram. Hence they bought a piece of land at Villianur and Rev.Fr.Gou, then procurator of the Puducherry mission after a long negotiation with the Hindu temple authorities of Thirukameswarer Gogilambigai Temple started to build a Chapel at Kanuvapet on the outskirts of Villianur. It is said that the building of the church was sponsored by the thanksgiving offering of Dr.Lephine's family for the miraculous cure of his daughter.

It took 10 years to complete the Chapel. And Rev.Fr.Tarbes a cousin brother of St. Bernadette, the visionary of Lourdes, was appointed as the Parish Priest of Villianur mission. Since he had a direct report of the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes, this chapel is the first in the world to be named after Our Lady of Lourdes outside Lourdes, France.

Miraculous Statue[edit]

Central Altar with the Miraculous Statue

One pious lady from the parish paid for a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and made it come from Lourdes under the direct supervision of Bernadette. This miraculous Statue, 6 Feet tall was the workmanship of the same sculptor who sculpted the Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Lourdes Grotto, France. It was on 4 April 1877 the statue arrived in Puducherry and was taken to the Cathedral after the three dangerous falls of the box containing the Holy Mother's Statue.

To everybody's amaze, the statue was intact and beautiful. And during the Statue's stay at the Cathedral, a pious man called Thambusamy Mudaliyar, a native of Kumbakonam who was on his way to Chennai for the surgical intervention for the extra growth of flesh on his left eye, who prayed to Our Lady of Lourdes and was cured by a vision of Our Lady of Lourdes in a dream at the same night about 3 am. This attracted a lot of crowd to the Cathedral and so the missionaries sent the statue soon to Villianur, on 7 April 1877.

It was in 1885 the archbishop Laouënan went to Rome and reported the numerous miracles that took place in this Shrine to Pope Leo XIII and got permission on 21 February 1886 to declare this as an official Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Villianur and to canonically crown the statue in his name.

On his return from Rome, on 8 May 1886 during a grand celebration, witnessed by around 40,000 people during the pontifical high mass the bishop crowned the miraculous statue in the name of the pope and declared this church as the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Villianur and attached permanent plenary indulgences to this shrine.

Sacred Pond[edit]

Church Pond

There was a natural pond in front of the chapel. it was once used as the water reservoir for the irrigation of the lands around and water came from the big Ousteri Lake which is 10 km away from here. And this pond was constructed by Fr. Lesbond, the Parish Priest, with donations from Zigon organized by Mr.Lesage. And Mr.Larocgue from the people in Zigon got a statue fro Lourdes and in 1924 and a solemn ceremony took place to install the statue in the middle of the sacred pond after the due consecration of the statue and the pond.

It is believed by the people here that the pond water is miracles and has the ability to cure the sick and bring good fortune. This is the only Catholic church in Asia having a sacred pond in front of the church.

The grotto[edit]

19 years after Lourdes apparitions, the first church and grotto for Our Lady of Lourdes was constructed in 1877. The centenary celebrations was celebrated on 10 September 1977. As a remembrance of the centenary celebrations, Rev.Fr.Duissen built a big grotto in the garden of the church, which was consecrated by bishop Venmani S. Selvanather on 10 October 1978. The grotto which was inside the church was modified according as per the instruction of the Second Vatican Council.

The Stations of the Cross[edit]

In 2009, The Stations of the Cross were constructed around the 'Sacred Pond'.

The 125th Anniversary Celebrations[edit]

In 08, October 2011, on the 125th anniversary of the crowning of the statue by the Pope, Archbishop Rev. Mgr. Antony Anandarayar crowned the Statue again with a diamond crown.

A new Church[edit]

As the existing Church could not accommodate the growing number of pilgrims, a new Church is planned with the approval of Archbishop Most. Rev.Dr.Antony Anandarayar. It is expected to be finished by 2014-2015. On 10 September 2011, Rev. Fr. A. Arulanandam, the Vicar General of Archdiocese blessed and officially commenced the construction work for the church. Rev. Fr. C. Joseph Arumaiselvam, the procurator and many other priests were present at the event.

Feasts and Other Celebrations[edit]

Annual Feast of the Shrine[edit]

Annual feast of Our Lady of Lourdes shrine commence with a the nine days of Novena and flag hoisting on the 6th day after Easter Sunday. The car procession is done during these days. The feast day is on the 15th day after Easter. This is a Puducherry state Christian festival.

The Holy Water from Lourdes[edit]

Every first Saturday in the month of August, The Holy Water from Lourdes Church, France is poured into the 'Sacred Pond' at Villianur Shrine. This event is attended by thousands of devotees every year.

Pilgrimage on foot[edit]

As a sign of gratitude to Our Lady, for saving the city from a cyclone, the first pilgrimage on foot took place on 10 October 1977 from Pondicherry and this tradition is still continued on the second Saturday in the month of October. It starts from Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Pondicherry and ends in the shrine covering approximately 12 km.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]