At a distance of 1 km from Velankanni Railway Station, 31 km from Karaikal, 93 km from Thanjavur, 11 km from Nagapattinam, 161 km from Pondicherry, and 313 km from Chennai, the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is located in Velankanni town of Tamil Nadu. Situated on the coast of Bay of Bengal, this is one of the most popular Christian pilgrimage in South India, and among the famous places to visit as part of Thanjavur trip.
The Roman Catholic Latin Rite Basilica of Velankannin is devoted to Our Lady of Good Health. The Shrine of Our Lady of Velankanni is one of the most frequented religious sites in Tamilnadu. It can be traced back to the mid-16th century and is attributed to three miracles at different sites around where the Basilica currently stands. The appearance of Mary and Christ Child to a shepherd boy, the curing of a buttermilk vendor, and the rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm are the miracles associated with this shrine.
The shrine was started as a small structure in the mid-sixteenth century. The chapel was built by Portuguese sailors and became a parish church in 1771. Later in 1962 it was granted a special status of a Minor Basilica and merged with the Major Basilica of Mary in Rome on 3 November 1962 by Pope John XXIII.
Representing a Gothic style of architecture, the building of the church is painted white, while the roof is covered with red tiles. The Basilica contains three chapels, Our Lady's Tank, Church Museum, Priests' Residence, Offering Center, Stations of the Cross, and Stations of the Rosary. The church organizes Holy masses in eight languages - English, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, Konkani, and Marathi. It is counted as one of the most popular Thanjavur places to visit.
Velankanni is fondly known as the 'Lourdes of the East' referring to the great Lourdes in France. The nine-day festival conducted in September every year draws nearly 2 million pilgrims. There is an interesting practice here that pilgrims offer candles to the mother to cure themselves where the candles are in the shape of the respective ailment.
Velankanni Beach is another attraction close to this shrine.
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM