Our Lady of Snows Shrine Kallikulam Tamilnadu, India

Introduction

The Church of Our Lady of Snow is a Roman Catholic Marian church in Kallikulam, Tirunelveli district,[Tuticorin diocese], Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the Catholic pilgrimage centers in India dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Tamil ‘Pani’ means ‘Snow’ and ‘Matha’ means ‘Mother. In the recent years, it became popular in India because of vision and apparition of Our Lady. A strong oral tradition attests to Our Lady’s apparition at Kallikulam.

In 1884, the villagers and Jesuits of Kallikulam embarked on the endeavor to construct a new church dedicated to Our Lady. Initially unsure about the church’s size and location, they sought guidance through prayer, invoking Our Lady’s intercession. Their uncertainty was dispelled when, on a hot summer morning, they discovered a piece of land moistened with morning dew, interpreting it as a miraculous sign indicating the church’s location. By 1885, they erected a splendid church on this chosen site, consecrating it to Our Lady of Snows.

On the evening of March 29, 1939, around 6:30 PM, Our Lady made an apparition on a hill adjacent to the church. Witnessed by six young individuals, they promptly informed the parish priest and the local community.

Since then, Kallikulam has become a destination for thousands of pilgrims from across India, regardless of their faith, seeking spiritual solace and renewal. Many unbelievers and those afflicted physically or mentally have reported conversions and healings. The site attracts not only Catholics throughout the year but also non-Christians. Numerous accounts of miraculous healings are documented annually, affirming the divine origin of devotion to Our Lady of the Snows over the centuries.

Shortly thereafter, a woman holding a child frequently appeared in the dreams of the village leader, requesting a specific piece of land in Kallikulam. Meanwhile, the village was embroiled in a legal battle over ownership of its land in the district court. The woman reappeared in the leader’s dream, promising her blessings for victory in the legal dispute. The following day, the village leader and its people received a favorable judgment, prompting them to honor the mysterious woman. With the assistance of a European Roman Catholic priest, they discovered that the woman was none other than Mary.

In 1770 AD, the villagers constructed a thatched church in honor of Holy Mary, with assistance from the Jesuits who helped form a small Christian community. As the Catholic population grew, the church was expanded in 1838 by Fathers Martin and Mossette.

In 1884, the villagers and Jesuits resolved to erect a new church for Our Lady in Kallikulam. Uncertain about the church’s size and location, they prayed for guidance and requested Mary’s intercession. One hot summer morning, they discovered a piece of land moist with morning dew, interpreting it as a miraculous sign indicating the chosen location for the church.

On September 5, 1884, Reverend Father Cousanal laid the foundation for the new church. With donations and labor from the community, the main construction was completed in 1886 and consecrated to Our Lady of Snows. Construction of the church tower commenced in 1941 and concluded in 1942.

The architectural design of the church follows Roman architecture, featuring three towers: one main tower and two sub-towers. The main tower stands at 160 feet, while the sub-towers reach 68 feet in height. The church building itself is 55 feet tall, with a total length of 151 feet and a width of 56 feet. The main tower boasts internal spiral steps spanning 143 feet. The main statue of “Our Lady of Snows” and the church bell were imported from France.

The Church of Our Lady of Snows holds religious significance for the Christian community in India and stands as a testament to its nearly 125-year-old history.

 

The Parish

Kallikulam constitutes a parish within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tuticorin, encompassing five villages: Kallikulam, Soundrapandiapuram, Rayappapuram, Vandalampadu, and Arulanandapuram. Being the most extensive among these villages, Kallikulam lent its name to the expansive Roman Catholic parish. The settlement of Kallikulam traces its origins back to as early as 1700 AD, establishing a small Christian community with the assistance of Jesuits. In 1771, a modest thatched church was erected, later expanded in 1838 by Fathers Martin and Mossette to accommodate the growing Catholic population. The present-day church was constructed in 1885, followed by the establishment of St. Michael’s church in 1910 and St. Antony’s church in 1920. Originally a substation of the Anaikarai parish, Kallikulam attained independent parish status in 1885. Historical records from 1914 indicate that Kallikulam comprised 16 substations, with Rev. Father Victor Delbak serving as its first priest.In 1926, Kizhavaneri, one of Kallikulam’s substations, evolved into an autonomous parish with seven substations. On June 26, 1973, Duraikudiyiruppu, another substation of Kallikulam, became an independent parish with five substations.

Churches dedicated to various patron saints were established in the surrounding villages: St. Aloysius in Soundrapandiyapuram (1900), St. Peter in Rayapparpuram (1948), St. Joseph in Arulanandapuram (1932), and St. Joseph in Vandalampadu (1976).The current resident priest, Rev. Father Antonydas, along with his assistant, Rev. Father T. Amalan, oversee religious services across all villages within the parish. Additionally, they manage the schools and educational institutions operated by the Jesuits.

The Apparition Hill

Throughout history, God has communicated with his saints and prophets via visions, dreams, and inner voices, dating back to the time of Adam. Supernatural occurrences have been a common occurrence in both the Old and New Testaments, shaping the lives of saints with divine intervention. Over the past century and a half, numerous accounts have surfaced regarding appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with some individuals claiming direct communication with Jesus. Several of these apparitions have received official recognition from the Roman Catholic Church.

On the evening of March 23, 1939, around 6:30 PM, Mary reportedly appeared on a hill near the church in Kallikulam, enveloped in a radiant white light. Clad in white veils, she faced the church with folded hands, while water cascaded from her feet. Six young witnesses observed the apparition briefly before it vanished. The following morning, they discovered human footprints at the site and reported the incident to parish priest Rev. Father Marianoos, school headmaster Laxmana Iyer, and other villagers. Initially skeptical, the villagers demanded a tangible sign of the apparition’s authenticity. In response, heavy rainfall occurred that afternoon after a prolonged drought, forming a waterfall at the apparition site. Convinced by this natural phenomenon, they erected a temporary structure and a stone cross at the site.A nightly Hurricane lamp was lit at the site, symbolizing the ongoing devotion. Once, the lamp fell and rolled downhill but was found intact and illuminated, further bolstering belief in the apparition’s authenticity. Later, a young boy disabled in Singamparai village reportedly regained the use of his fingers after applying oil from the apparition site, prompting further belief in the miraculous.

In 1940, construction of steps leading to the apparition site commenced, funded by donations, including contributions from military personnel during World War II. Bishop Roch Victoria of Tuticorin blessed the site in 1941 and laid a commemorative plaque. A grotto was subsequently constructed on the hill in honor of Our Lady’s apparition.

Since then, devotees from the parish and neighboring areas gather at the site every Saturday for prayer services. An annual ten-day feast begins with a flag hoisting ceremony, featuring daily masses and novenas. On the seventh day of the feast, a special morning mass is celebrated, followed by Holy Communion service on Good Friday. Additionally, pilgrims from across India visit the Apparition hill on the first Saturday of every month.

Annual Feast Day

Feast Date : 27 July to 5 August

The annual feast day of the Our Lady of Snows Kallikulam  is celebrated on 27 July to 5 August each year.

Mass Timing

Weeday Masses

Monday to Friday : 06.30 pm

Weekend Masses

Saturday : 06.30 pm

Sunday   : 5 a.m. & 7 a.m.; 6.30 P.m

Church Visiting Hours

  • Monday to Sunday : 09:00 am to 07:00 pm

Contact Info

Kallikulam
627 113,
Tirunelveli Dt.
Tamil Nadu,
India

Phone No.

Connectivities

Airway

The nearest major airport is Our Lady of Snows, Kallikulam is Tuticorin Airport. Which is 86 km from the Shrine.

Railway

The nearest railway station to the Our Lady of Snows, Kallikulam is Tirunelveli Junction. Which is 54.4 km away from the Shirne.

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