Our Lady Help Of The Sick
There are times when a framework is built over a patient’s bed. Hanging down from it, among other things, is a strap or a horizontal bar. The patient can grasp this bar and help himself around. He isn’t helpless any longer!
All patients have within reach of their hands a means of pulling themselves up—a means of help. It is called the Rosary. By placing one’s hand on the rosary and fingering the beads, one is brought closer to Our Lady. The meditation on each mystery brings comfort and relief.
In South India about four hundred years ago, a Shrine to Our Lady of Health was founded because of alleged apparitions which took place at Vailankanni in Tanjoy. Our Lady is said to have appeared three times, the only place in India so honored. She was first seen by a poor crippled boy selling buttermilk; she paid the price of this produce, cured him and asked him to go to Nagapatam, six miles away to tell a particular individual of the vision. The person himself saw our Lady in his sleep the day before. A church was built in fulfillment of Mary’s command and called Our Lady of Health. Another appearance was made to a vendor selling milk. Mary asked him for some milk for the Infant Jesus she carried in her arms. The vendor gave, and reported the incident to his master, but when the lid was lifted from the clay pot, it was still full of milk. Some sailors threatened with shipwreck, begged Mary’s help and were anchored safely on Mary’s Birthday in the harbor of Vailankanni.
Numberless miraculous cures are registered at the shrine. Each year hundreds of thousands gather at this shrine to honor Our Lady of Health. During nine days Our Lady’s flag is flown.
On festival days at dusk the statue is taken in procession through the streets and is enthroned in a chariot which is drawn by 200 men. At the close of the ten day ceremonies, Mary’s flag is hauled down and laid on the altar of the church, to be kissed in veneration by the thousands of pilgrims before they disperse.