Orissa, thousands of pilgrims flock to shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes for the miracle of water
by Purushottam Nayak

The water flows from the feet of Christ on the cross and from some rocks below.  It began to flow on 2 November, the feats of All Souls.  The sanctuary was erected in 1917 at the behest of people of all faiths, to give thanks to the Virgin Mary who had protected them from the plague.

 


Berhampur (AsiaNews) - Thousands of pilgrims arrive every day from all over Orissa to witness the miracle of the water that can be seen flowing from the feet of Christ on the cross and from the rocks below in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in Dantoling.  The sacred image of Jesus on the cross was installed on April 23 of this year and water began to flow on November 2 last, the day on which the faithful departed are commemorated.

Fr. Sanjeeb Biro, the parish priest of the sanctuary, states: "The miracle takes place at the behest of God. It has increased people's faith.  People from all over Orissa come every day, and even faithful from other religions have shown strong faith in Jesus. Respect, devotion and reverence for Mary have increased.  Many patients have already been healed ”.

The sanctuary belongs to the diocese of Berhampur, one of the most tormented by Hindu radicals during sectarian violence in the Kandhamal district in 2008. Martha Nayak, a widow who survived the massacres, says: "The Virgin Mary intercedes for us in times of sickness, suffering,  danger and hopeless situations through her Son Jesus Christ who comes to our aid ”.  Agata Parichha, who also survived the pogroms, adds: "We saw the miraculous water flowing from Jesus' feet. We prayed for our needs, the good of the village, the development of the state and of the country.  We have great faith in Christ ”.

Proful Kumar Digal, from Kampada, in the sub-division of Balliguda, says: "I am one of the victims of violence against Christians.  Hindu extremists came to the village and destroyed my home, but they failed to hurt my family.  God saved us.  Visiting the sanctuary, my faith has grown.  I have forgiven and prayed for the people who harassed us, threatened us to kill, so that they could welcome Jesus ".

Every year the Marian shrine attracts thousands of faithful, Catholics and non-Catholics, especially during the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes which is celebrated on 11 February.  People of all faiths go there, who find solace in prayer and claim to have been miraculously cured: with healing, in mind and spirit.

The first settlement of Dantoling dates back to the mid-1800s. Over the centuries the territory had been lashed by various waves of drought that caused at least 10 million deaths.  The peak was in 1866 with the outbreak of a cholera and smallpox epidemic.  The first to respond to the calamity were the French missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, who gathered sick, orphaned and abandoned children and took them to the orphanage of the Surada mission.

The Christian presence was born with the first 250 Catholic families.  The erection of the sanctuary took place in 1917, as a sign of gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, at the behest of  people of all faiths, to give thanks for the protection of the Madonna from pestilence and famine.

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