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Label : Must Visit

Tags : Church & Cathedral

Timings : 5:00 AM - 9:00 PM, all days open

Time Required : 1-2 hours

Entry Fee : Free

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Velankanni Church, Velankanni Overview

Located on the sandy shores of Bay of Bengal, Velankanni Church is considered as one of the holiest Christian pilgrimage destinations in India n and is situated on the Coromandel Coast, 350 km south of Chennai and 12 km south of Nagapattinam. It is said that Virgin Mary appeared here along with Baby Jesus around the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century, after which Velankanni became a revered site for the Christian community. Declared as the holy city by the Pope, it draws devotees in large number from all over the world.

Officially spelt as Vailankanni, this small hamlet is renowned for its Roman Catholic shrine, Basilica of Our Lady of Good health which is also known as the Velankanni Church. Also fondly known as 'Lourdes of the East', the shrine represents a melting pot of many cultures, international and religious harmony. The church is completely dedicated to Virgin Mary and the Heavenly Mother.  It is believed by the devotees of the church that Lady of Health or Madonna of Velankanni possesses miraculous powers. People of every religion, caste and creed visit the church to pay their respect to the great lady.

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History of Velankanni Church

Vailankanni, once being the part of the parish of Nagapattinam, rose to the status of an independent parish in 1771 as the pilgrims' inflow increased. It was then that the last parish priest of the Church of the Immaculate Conception was reappointed as the first Parish priest of Vailankanni. Till the year 1847, the church of Nagapattinam and Vailankanni was looked after by the priests of St. Franciscan Missionaries who also looked after the province of Goa and Mylapore. In 1890, the parish was handed over to diocesan priests and making the Diocese of Mylapore charge of Vailankanni. 'Our Lady of Health Vailankanni' became the second patroness of newly erected Diocese.

The increase in the influx of devotees here pressed for an increase in the area of the Velankanni Church complex. Fr. Rozario, a Franciscan priest, expanded the small premises by extending the nave of the Church, but the ancient altar and sanctuary were preserved in their original form. 
In 1917 Fr. Sebastio Xavier de Noronha expanded the Church by an another 20 ft. from the nave of the Church. Two gothic domes of 82 ft. each on either side of the entrance of the Velankanni Church were constructed as well which overlooked the sea. About the same time, a two-story Parochial building with facility for pilgrims was also built.

Architecture of Velankanni Church

The Velankanni Church is an imposing structure with admirable architecture. Originally, the church building was created in the gothic style of architecture radiating rays of hope and piety. While the building is painted white, the roof is made of eye-catching red coloured tile in contrast to the walls. The southern side of the church was extended in the year 1928 while the northern side underwent extension in 1933. However, it was in the year 1974-75, that an extension was created of the Basilica keeping in mind the design of the Basilica in Lourdes, France.

The Velankanni Church has three chapels within its confines. In addition to these, Our Lady's Tank, Church Museum, Priests' Residence, Offering Center, Stations of the Cross, Stations of the Rosary, Shrine Mega Mahal and Vailankanni Beach. A vestry is provided right behind the altar. 1961 saw the replacement of the cement concrete altar with a white marble one, which imparts a unique divinity to this shrine.

Velankanni Church Mass Timings

If you wish to attend the prayer mass, the timings for the same are as follows:-

Mass Timings during weekdays (Monday to Friday)
Morning Prayer in Velankanni Main Shrine: 05:40 AM
Mass (in Tamil) in Velankanni Main Shrine: 06:00 AM
Mass (in Tamil) in Velankanni Lower Basilica: 07:00 AM
Mass (in Telugu) in Velankanni Upper Basilica: 08:00 AM 
Mass (in Malayalam) in Velankanni Lower Basilica: 09:00 AM 
Mass (in English) in Velankanni Lower Basilica: 10:00 AM
Mass (in Hindi) in Velankanni Upper Basilica: 11:00 AM 
Mass (in Tamil) in Velankanni Lower Basilica: 12:00 PM 
Rosary and Litany (in Tamil) followed by Mass in Tamil in the Velankanni Lower Basilica: 06:00 PM 
Mass Timings on all Sundays
Mass (in Tamil) for Parishioners of Velankanni in Velankanni Lower Basilica: 05:00 AM 
Mass (in Tamil) in Velankanni Lower Basilica: 07:30 AM
Rosary, Novena Prayer, Benediction and Mass (in Tamil) in Lower Basilica: 06:00 PM 
Mass Timings on all Saturdays
Car Procession of Our Lady of Health around the Shrine Benediction and Mass (in Tamil) in Velankanni Lower Basilica: 05:45 AM
Mass (in Tamil) at Our Lady's Tank Chapel: 07:00 AM
Mass Timings on first Friday
Mass (in Tamil) Eucharistic Procession around the Shrine Sermon and Benediction from the front view of the Velankanni Upper Basilica: 07:00 AM
Mass Timings on first Saturday
Car Procession of Our Lady of Health thought the Beach Road. Blessing of the Sick with the Blessed Sacrament Benediction and Mass (in Tamil) in the Lower Basilica: 05:30 PM 
A Three-Hour Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament in the Velankanni Main Shrine: 09:00 PM 
Mass Timings on second Saturday
A Healing and Fasting Prayer Service at Velanakanni Retreat House: 09:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Mass Timings on Third Saturday
One Hour Intercessory Prayer Service at Our Lady's Tank Chapel after 7:00 AM Mass
Mass Timings on Fourth Saturday
Mass (in Tamil) at Naduththitu Chapel: 06:30 AM
Children's Evangelization Programme in front of Presbytery: 08:00 PM 

Velankanni Church Hotels

If you wish to rent an accommodation near the Velankanni Church, a number of options are available at your disposal. Some of the most popular hotels here include Clinton Park Inn, Hotel VPN Residency, Hotel Rhea Park, Hotel Golden Sand, MGM Vailankanni Residency, Chandra Royal Inn, Muthoot Residency and Hotel Dravidar. The rooms here are available in both AC and non - AC variants and you can place a preference for a room facing the Velankanni Church as well. Tariff of the same may range from INR 900 - 3,200 per room.

Tips For Visiting Velankanni Church

1. You can attend the daily service at church with masses given in Tamil, English and Malayalam language.
2. You can attend Novena Prayers, Rosary and Evening payers, which are carried out at six in evening.

How To Reach Velankanni Church

You can easily access to the church through the network of local transportation such as bus, or a taxi. Deluxe and semi - deluxe buses are available from Chennai and their fare can be anywhere from INR 200 - 2,000. Nagapattinam is the nearest rail station to Velankanni and lies only 12 kilometres away from the city. Taxi services can be availed from Nagapattinam to Velankanni for a charge of about Rs. 250. 

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