Church of Our Lady of Lourdes

Phone : 91-413-2666363
Email : [email protected]
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This interesting church is located at Villianur, a small town 11 km. from Puducherry. It was erected in 1876 and is in the model of the Basilica in France. The statue of Notre Dame was donated by the French Government a year later after the church was erected. A curious feature here is the Church tank, which is usually common in most Hindu temples. We can only speculate about the purpose of the tank. Was it an attempt to assimilate the local customs or was it built out of necessity is still a question. The ritual bathing in the tank, a long standing tradition, is one of the highlights during the festival honouring Madonna held in June.
Church History
In 1867, missionaries in Pondy decided to build a chapel. After 10 long years the same was ready and Rev. Fr. Tharbes, a cousin of Bernadette – the visionary of Lourdes – was appointed as the parish priest. This is the first Church outside France to be named after Our Lady of Lourdes. A generous donation allowed the commissioning of a statue under the supervision of Bernadette who had seen the original apparition. Despite three dangerous falls, the box containing the Holy Mother’s statue arrived intact at Pondicherry on 4th April 1877.
Legend has it that Thambusamy Mudaliar, a native of Kumbakonam, prayed before the statue and was later cured by a vision of the Lady of Lourdes. From then on thousands have flocked to lay eyes upon the statue to be cured of all manner of infirmities. In 1885 the Arch Bishop went to Rome and reported the numerous miracles that took place at this Shrine to the Holy Father and got permission on February 21st, 1886 to declare this as an official Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Villianur and to crown the statue in his name.
On his return from Rome, on 8th May 1886 in a grand celebration, witnessed by around 40,000 people, during the pontifical high mass the Arch Bishop crowned the miraculous statue in the name of Pope Leo XIII and declared this church as the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes at Villianur and attached permanent plenary indulgences to this shrine.
Sacred Pond
A natural pond in front of the chapel, once used as a water reservoir for irrigation of the lands around, was consecrated and another statue from Lourdes, France was installed in its centre. Believers take water from this pond bring blessing upon their house. This is the only Catholic Church in Asia to have such a pond.
The Grotto
19 years after Our Lady’s apparition at Lourdes, the first church and grotto for Our Lady of Lourdes was constructed in 1877. The centenary celebrations were held on September 10th 1977. Rev. Fr. Duissen planned the construction of a larger grotto outside the Church based on the one inside the Church which was in accordance with instructions of the Second Vatican conference.
Pilgrimage on Foot
As a sign of gratitude to Our Lady of Villianur, for saving the city from a cyclone, the first pilgrimage on foot (12 Km.) took place on October 10, 1977 from Pondicherry and this beautiful tradition is still continued on the second Saturday in the month of October.
Stations of the Cross
In 2009 the Stations of the Cross were constructed around the ‘Sacred Pond’.
Week Days
6:00am – Mass
1st Saturday
5:30am, 6:45am, 11:30am – Mass, 6:00pm – Mass & Car Procession
6:00am, 11:30am, 6:00pm
6:00am, 7:30am – Mass, 5:30pm – Mass & Car Procession
Flag Hoisting – The Saturday after Easter Sunday.
Feast – The 15th day after Easter Sunday i.e. third Sunday of Easter Season.
Second Saturday of October
2:00pm – Pilgrim Walk starts from the Cathedral, Pondicherry.
5:30pm – Mass at Villianur.

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