The beautiful lady who appeared on two different occasions both times asked a cup of milk for her Little Son.
The town of Vailankanni in India is a small fishing village off the central east coast. Three major Marian events took place in Vailankanni, two in the 16th century, and one near the Bay of Bengal, in the 17th century.
It all began sometime around the year 1550. A shepherd boy by the name of Tamil had the job of going from door to door selling milk. When he finished, he would take his milk pot back to his master, who lived in the next town. Tamil was very tired this one morning and, after completing his route, stopped to drink some water and take a quick rest next to a banyan tree.
Tamil sat down under the tree and, without realizing it, fell asleep. When he opened his eyes, he was startled to see a most beautiful lady holding a child in her arms. The lady asked for some milk for her baby, which Tamil reverently offered to her. It was the last bit of milk in the pot. The lady thanked him and then was gone.
Tamil was worried about all the milk being gone. When he arrived at his workplace, his master did not believe his story about the lady. He was angry that the pot was empty. But when he looked at the pot again, milk began to flow out and spill onto the ground. No one could understand where the milk was coming from.
His master and other people wanted to know where exactly the lady had appeared. Tamil took them there, and the people began to believe Tamil’s story. The people started calling the place of the apparition “Matha KIulam” (Our Lady’s Pond).
The next apparition took place near the end of the 16th century. There was a poor widow who lived in Vailankanni with her son, who was disabled. Every day the boy would slowly limp to a place called “Nadu Thittu” and sell buttermilk to thirsty travelers. Buttermilk was a sweet treat, and he would always sell all that he had. One day a beautiful lady appeared to him holding a splendid looking child. The lady asked the boy for a cup of milk for her son. Then she asked the boy if he could deliver a message to Nagapattinam, a Catholic man in the next town.
The boy told the lady that he could barely walk, but she told him to stand up and deliver the message. He was shocked to find that he could stand right up and even could jump and hop and run. He had been lame his entire life, and suddenly, he was cured. Filled with joy, the boy began to run to deliver the message. Townspeople who saw him running were shocked. They all knew he had been disabled.
When he reached Nagapattinam, he told him the lady said she wanted a chapel built on the site. He believed the boy because he knew he had been lame his entire life. And it confirmed a dream he had had, in which the Blessed Mother asked him to build a chapel on the same spot. Nagapattinam did as asked and built the first chapel on the site of the apparition. Upon completion of the chapel, Nagapattinam and his fellow workers dedicated the church under the title of Our Lady of Good Health.
In the 17th century, a Portuguese ship sailing from Macau to Ceylon was caught in a vicious storm in the Bay of Bengal. The crew members began imploring the Blessed Mother as Mary, Star of the Sea, to save them. They promised her to build a church in her honor if she would help.
The seas quickly became calm, and the crew landed on the shores of Vailankanni. The date was September 8, the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. The sailors did as promised and rebuilt the thatched chapel into a stone church. The Feast of Our Lady of Good Health is also on September 8.
These apparitions have not been formally approved by the Holy See. However, Pope St. John XXIII elevated the church in Vailankanni to the status of Basilica in 1962. Today it is often called the “Lourdes of the East.”
Today there are at least 26 churches dedicated to Our Lady of Good Health. Three of them are Shrines, and one is a Basilica.
Our Lady of Good Health, please watch over us and protect us as the pandemic rages among us.