02/13/2020, 18.04
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Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes draws 200,000 who pray for coronavirus victims

by Purushottam Nayak

Participants observed a minute's silence. The Marian shrine, which is located in the Diocese of Berhampur (Odisha), draws the faithful of all religions. “The only source of true happiness is the Lord,” says the local bishop.


Berhampur (AsiaNews) – More than 200,000 pilgrims, both Christian and Hindu, came from across Odisha (Orissa) to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes at the shrine dedicated to her in Dantoling, Diocese of Berhampur.

At the opening of the ceremony, on Tuesday, participants observed a minute of silence for the victims of the coronavirus outbreak.

Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur led a thanksgiving Mass; at least 60 priests and 65 nuns attended the service.

In his homily, the prelate quoted the Gospel of John where Christ says: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (15:11).

Thus, him, “The only source of true happiness is the Lord. All of the things you receive in your life that give you happiness are because you believe in God. We truly long for God for that joy in life.”

Catholics are not alone in loving the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. Momata Nayak and Bisikeson Nayak, a Hindu couple, took part in the celebration. “We received a son after eight years of marriage” only through “the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes of Dantoling,” they said.

Meghanjali Majhi, a high school student, was also present. on 11 February, “World Sick Day I came to pray for the good health of my mother, brother, sisters and relatives,” she said. “I have great faith and trust in the Lord through Mother Mary,” she added. “I have come to seek wisdom and knowledge to succeed in my studies”.

According to Fr Sanjeev Kumar Nayak, vicar general of the diocese, "the huge assembly of pilgrims is the sign of the great faith in Jesus Christ through the mediation of Mother Mary.”

The local pastor, Fr Sanjeev Biro, said that he was “very proud of the people of all faiths who have great respect and reverence for Our Lady. The faithful ask for her help and intercession every day of the year.”

Every year, the Marian shrine draws thousands of people of all faiths, who find consolation in prayer, and claim to have benefitted from miracles that have healed their mind and body.

in India millions of people have died over the past few centuries from drought. In Odisha, the worse crisis came in 1866 with an outbreak of cholera and smallpox.

The first to respond to the disaster were the French missionaries of Saint Francis de Sales, who picked up the sick, as well as orphans or abandoned children and brought them to the orphanage at the Surada mission.

In Dantoling, the first Christian settlement dates back to the mid-1800s with some 260 families.

The shrine was built in 1917 in gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. People from all religious backgrounds wanted to thank Our Lady for her protection in times of pestilence and famine.

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