More than 700 faithful from various Indian and American Christian communities filled the pews and choir loft of the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Germantown on Saturday, Sept. 9 for the feast of Our Lady of Good Health Vailankanni.
Devotion to this title of the Blessed Virgin Mary is traced to the mid-16th century and is attributed to three miracles at Vailankanni, a town in southern India known to many Indian Christians as the “Lourdes of the East.” Mary and the Christ Child were said to appear to a slumbering shepherd boy, to have cured a lame buttermilk vendor and rescue Portuguese sailors from a violent storm at sea.
For the Indian-American Catholics in Philadelphia, the dedication of a Vailankanni Shrine at the Miraculous Medal Shrine was a special gift from Vincentian Father Carl L. Pieber, former director of the shrine who was inspired by the deep faith, devotion and love of Mary shown by the Indian Catholic community.
It was his dream to establish the new shrine after a statue of Our Lady of Good Health Vailankanni was blessed five years ago under the initiative of members of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Parish in Philadelphia.
The celebration last Saturday at the shrine featured the Miraculous Medal Novena, Mass in the Syro-Malabar liturgy, a novena to Our Lady of Good Health Vailankanni, a rosary procession carrying Our Lady’s statue and a healing prayer for the sick.
The shrine reverberated with Marian hymns, prayers and chanting of the rosary in various Indian and international languages and included a vibrant youth choir and a contingent of the Knights of Columbus.
Father Antony Thundathil, former vicar general of the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago, was the main celebrant for the Mass. Father John Melepuram, pastor of St. Mary Syro-Malabar Parish in Hempstead, New York and a former pastor of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, was the homilist.
Leaders for this sixth year of festival celebrations at the shrine were Vincentian Father William J. O’Brien, the Miraculous Medal Shrine’s director, and Father Vinod Madathiparambil, pastor of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Parish in Philadelphia. Father Renny Kattel and Father Dijo Koyikkara concelebrated the Holy Qurbana along with the other priests.
The presence of religious sisters from various congregations, especially the Missionaries of Charity, were notable. In addition to the Syro-Malabar Catholics from Philadelphia and New York, many Indian Christian denominations from Philadelphia participated in the celebration.
The multicultural event was the result of coordination by St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Parish staff and faithful, as well as those from the Miraculous Medal Shrine.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103