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» 12/29/2011
INDIA
Our Lady of Velankanni, the "Lourdes of the East" celebrates 50 years
by Santosh Digal
An hour of prayer a day throughout 2012. John XXIII elevated the shrine in Tamil Nadu to basilica, November 3, 1962. During the 2005 tsunami, the "Lourdes of the East" saved the lives of people who were inside.

Velankanni (AsiaNews) - An hour of prayer a day, until December 31, 2012, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the consecration of the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Health in Vailankanni (Tamil Nadu). At the heart of the intentions are interreligious dialogue and ecumenism, but also the health of parishioners, priests, nuns, bishops and benefactors who have dedicated their lives to the development of the "Lourdes of the East" as John Paul II called the sanctuary in 2002.

"To celebrate this jubilee year - Fr A. Michael, rector of the sanctuary explains to AsiaNews - we decided to build a new, large church, called "Morning Star" and will accommodate over 15 thousand people. "

Each year, the "Lourdes of the East" welcomes pilgrims from around the world. After the 2005 tsunami, thousands of people of all religions, not only Catholics go to seek solace in the sanctuary and pay homage to Mary. At that time, the tsunami hit the Marian hard shrine: about 850 people died, 300 others were swept away by the fury of the waves. But those who sought refuge inside the chapel, were unhurt.

From the 16th century, the area surrounding the shrine was the scene of a series of Marian apparitions. The first witness was a Hindu boy carrying milk, of whom Our Lady asked for milk for her son, who she held in her arms. A few years later, following a similar apparition, the Virgin asked him to build a chapel in her honor. Then, in the 17th century, a group of Portuguese sailors cried Mary Star of the Sea, to save them from shipwreck. Once safely landed on the coast of Tamil Nadu, they elevated the Shrine of Our Lady of Health on the foundations of the chapel built about a century before.

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See also
09/01/2007 INDIA
Millions of pilgrims on foot towards the Lourdes of the East
02/09/2009 INDIA
Thousands of pilgrims to the "Lourdes of the East" pray for life, against euthanasia
by Nirmala Carvalho
08/13/2004 POPE - LOURDES - INDIA
Gunadala, India's Lourdes
03/22/2010 VIETNAM
First steps to rebuild the shrine of La Vang
by J.B. VU
05/26/2006 LEBANON
Five thousand take part in the 'Asian Women Pilgrimage' to Our Lady of Lebanon
by Youssef Hourany

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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