Video - In and Around Velankanni Church
History of the Church
Velankanni was a part of the parish of Nagapattinam, but as pilgrims began to pour into Velankanni, it was raised to the status of an independent Parish in 1771, and Fr. Antonio de Rozario the last parish priest of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Nagapattinam, was appointed the first Parish priest of Velankanni. Nagapattinam had always been under the jurisdiction of the great Bishop of the Diocese of Mylapore. During that period the Diocese of Mylapore was administered under the Portuguese 'Padroado' (patronage). Under the Padroado system, the king of Portugal in Europe met all the expenses incurred by the Diocese of Mylapore, which remained under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiffs.
Until 1847 the priests of St. Franciscan Missionaries who had been looking after the province of Goa and Mylapore also looked after Nagapattinam and Vellankanni. The Franciscan origin and ownership of the Shrine was also perpetuated, by giving the place of honor to two Franciscan saints, St. Anthony of Lisbon and St. Francis of Assisi, on either side of the miraculous image of 'Our Lady', on the High Altar until 1961. Besides the last parish priest, Miguel Francisco Fernandez, who was of the Franciscan order, controlled the parish of Vailankanni till 1889. In 1890 the parish was handed over to diocesan priests. Thereafter, the diocesan priests of the Diocese of Mylapore were in charge of Velankanni. In 1952, when the new Diocese of Thanjavur came into being, and Velankanni became a part of the new diocese, the priests of Thanjavur Diocese became the custodians of the Shrine. The administration of the new Diocese was orally placed under the apostolic administration of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Louis Mathias, S.D.B., who was then the Archbishop of the new Archdiocese for Madras-Mylapore.
Velankanni issituated in the Thanjavur District which comes under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Thanjavur. The Rev. Dr. R. Arokiasamy Sundaram showrd keen interest in the development of Velankanni Shrine and granted special spiritual privileges.
Significance of the ChurchThe greatest honour that can be conferred to a Church is to elevate it to the status of a Basilica. The word 'Basilica' is derived from the Greek word 'Basilike' and it originally signified a Royal Hall. In course of time this word has come to mean a large and beautiful hall. In ancient times kings from all over the world in general, and from Rome in particular, constructed large hall for administrative purposes. The first hall bearing the name of Basilica existed in Athens
Jesus Christ being the King of Kings, and His Churches being His audience halls, the larger Christian Churches in Rome came to be called Basilicas. Today, a Basilica is a consecrated Church usually built with the front facing the East, and generally constructed in one of the classical styles of architecture. It is oblong in shape with a broad nave ending in an apse. It is now stipulated that a church, in order to be called a Basilica, should contain some work of art, or it should contain some work of art, or it should house the body of a saint or a celebrated image muFch venerated in the land, or be a pre-eminent place of pilgrimage.
His Excellency, Dr. R.A. Sundaram D.D., L.C.L., M.A., the first Bishop of the diocese of Thanjavur, earnestly petitioned Pope John XXIII to raise the Shrine of Velankanni to the Status of a Basilica and also requested His Holiness to enrich it with all the privileges attached to a Basilica for the spiritual benefit of the pilgrims. In 1962, when Bishop Sundaram went to Rome to attend the second session of the Second Vatican Council, he reiterated his request to the Holy Father personally to raise the Shrine of Our Lady of Velankanni to the lofty status of a Minor Basilica. After examining the request carefully, His Holiness Pope John XXIII, of saintly memory, issued orders raising the Shrine to the exalted status of a Minor Basilica. Thus the Shrine of Velankanni became the Shrine Basilica of Velankanni in November 1962 and was linked to the St. Mary's Major Basilica in Rome.
Accommodation Facilities at the Church
| Nearby tourist places to Velankanni Church
|Hotel MGM resort offers a cool calm stay in the place meant sacred from the view point of the catholic and the local peoples. Coupled with 12 large rooms and 10 suites it has facility of multi cuisines, In house laundry and satellite television are also available.|
How to reach the Temple
- Through Aiways: The nearest airport is located in Chennai at a distance of 350 kms.
- Through Railways: The nearest railhead is situated at Trichy and the other major rail stations are at Chennai and Thanjavur.
- Through Roadways: Buses are available to Velankanni from Chidambaram, Chennai, Madurai, Pondicherry and Trichy as well as Thanjavur. Frequent buses operate to the place from Nagapattinam.