02/11/2024, 13.11
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Gunadala Sanctuary, the Lourdes of Andrha Pradesh turns 100

Founded by PIME missionaries, it is the destination of pilgrimages of hundreds of thousands of faithful. Bishop Raja Rao: "Mary is blessed here even by non-Christians". PIME Superior General Fr. Brambillasca: "Let it be a place where missionary vocations continue to be born for the whole world".

Vijayawada (AsiaNews) - In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh a large crowd took part this morning in the Eucharistic liturgy for the centenary of the Mary Matha shrine in Gunadala, in the diocese of Vijiawada.

The liturgy - the heart of three days of celebrations - was presided by the Apostolic Nuncio in India, Msgr Leopoldo Girelli, alongside the diocesan bishop Msgr Thelagathoti Joseph Raja Rao and Fr Ferruccio Brambillasca, superior general of the PIME missionaries, to whom we owe the birth of this place that has entered the hearts of the Indian faithful.

As Msgr Raja Rao recalled at the beginning of the celebration, it was in fact Fr Paolo Arlati who broughta statue of Our Lady of Lourdes from Italyto this hill in 1924: placed in a niche, it has accompanied the blossoming of this local Church with its graces.

"The work begun by those missionaries is now carried on by the new generations of Christians that they baptised," explained the bishop of Vijayawada. "The Gospel has borne fruit: together with Eluru, our sister diocese, we form a community of 700,000 Catholics.

Msgr. Raja Rao spoke of a real "cultural revolution" that the devotion to the Virgin has brought to this territory. "People go to Jesus through the maternal intercession of Mary: they come here to invoke graces asking for healing, the gift of children, work and many other gifts. And the shrine is a place that gathers believers of all religions, because Mary the Mother of Jesus is also blessed by non-Catholics and non-Christians. Mary Matha is a centre of evangelisation and a point of unity between all religions'.

Nuncio Msgr Girelli also wished to thank the PIME missionaries and sisters "for the role they play in this local Church". "We venerate the Lord Jesus as our Saviour and also as Redeemer, because it is he who heals us," he recalled. "But we also look to Mary as Coredemptrix, her care for those who are sick, but also for those in pain.

The superior general of PIME shared his institute's joy at this anniversary through a message entrusted to the diocese of Vijawada: "Building a Marian shrine means first of all entrusting the work of evangelisation to Mary," he explained, "but at the same time it also means thinking of a place of prayer where everyone, without exception, can entrust their concerns, desires and prayers to God, through Mary our mother.

"I hope that this Marian shrine of Gunadala," he concluded, "will continue to be a place of prayer, and even 100 years after its birth, may it continue to spread that missionary spirit that our first missionaries witnessed in this Indian land. May it also be a place where missionary vocations continue to be born for the whole world, as it was for Mary, who gave her Son to the whole world.  May Mary, Star of Evangelisation and Queen of Apostles, protect all those who come to pray at this Gunadala shrine, and give them joy, peace, serenity and unity".


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See also
Thousands of faithful at the feast of Our Lady in Gunadala
11/02/2017 15:01
In Andhra Pradesh, believers from every religion give thanks to Mary for miracles received
07/12/2016 15:30
Even non-Catholics pray at the Indian shrine of Our Lady of Gunadala
12/02/2016 17:18
Gunadala, India's Lourdes
Sick Hindus and Hindu students join Christians in prayer before the statue of Mary


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