Indian History & Traditions


St. Thomas

St. Thomas the Apostle

Feast Day: December 21


Thomas is mentioned (John 21) as one of the seven disciples who were fishing on the Sea of Galilee (Sea of Tiberias) when the Risen Lord appeared to them. Aside from this he appears in the New Testament only as a name on lists of the Apostles. A couple of centuries later a story was circulating in the Mediterranean world that he had gone to preach in India; and there is a Christian community in India (the Kerala district) that claims descent from Christians converted by the the preaching of Thomas. The tradition among Christians in India is that Thomas was speared to death near Madras, and accordingly he is often pictured holding a spear.



Almighty and everliving God, who didst strengthen thine apostle Thomas with sure and certain faith in thy Son's resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.



Our Lady of Good Health

Our Lady of Good Health

Feast Day: September 8


The Apparition of Our Lady, Mother of Jesus, which occurred during the pleasant daybreak on a sunny day in the 16th century, when a shepherd boy, carrying milk was on his way as was his daily practice, from Vailankanni to his master at Nagapattinam. Despite the morning freshness, fatigue overcame the little dutiful boy 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 most graceful Lady of exquisite beauty, holding in her hand a most charming child of divine appearance. Both wore celestial halos around their heads. As the boy was still in a world of surprise, shock and happiness the Lady asked of him some milk for her child. Filled with reverence and awe, the boy offered milk. The heavenly smile of the Child and Mother was the only message.

The impatient master did not believe the narration 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 heavenly Lady. This place began to be called, "Our Lady's Tank".


Around the end of the 16th century, there lived at Vailankanni a poor widow with her son who was lame by birth. 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. On a certain day, to his bewilderment, 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. Our Lady of Health 2Then 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 lame legs have become normal upon the word from the Lady. With great joy, he buoyantly ran to Nagapattinam to carry out the errand. Having been already directed in 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'.


In the 17th century, a Portuguese merchant vessel, sailing from Macao in China to Colombo in Ceylon was caught in a tempest in the Bay of Bengal.The helpless sailors besought Mary the Star of the Sea to save them. Our Lady of health 3


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 29th August. During these eleven days of the Feast, about 15 to 20 lakhs of people visit the Shrine Basilica.


Courtesy of: Annai Vailankanni