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It is said that Our Lady appeared in a dream to Rev.Fr.P.T.Arulappa and expressed her desire that a church be built at Besant Nagar, Chennai. Keeping in mind the model of Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health at Vailankanni, a hut was erected in 1971 and later extended in 1972. The 97 feet Belfry was inauguratedby the former Chief Minister, Dr.M.Karunanidhi on 27th August, 1972.

With the ever increasing inflow of devotees, the Church was expanded in August 1985. The inflow of devotees multiplied in 1990 requiring more developmental work. In 2001 a small Chapel for Blessed Sacrament was built and in 2002 a Grotto of our Lady of Good Health was erected.

The Madonna of Vailankanni is believe to have miraculous powers. This is evidenced from the thousands of devotees visiting the church every day for thanksgiving.

There is a grotto at the entrance to the church. A large number of devotees are seen offering sarees at the grotto to be wrapped around the statue of Mother of Vailankanni. I offered a saree too as a token of thanksgiving for blessing us with a grandson after seven years.

Annai Velankanni Shrine
Entrance to Annai Velankanni Shrine
Grotto outside the Shrine
Grotto outside the Shrine

Around the grotto, large number of small wooden cradles are tied to the grill. The devotees believe that tying a wooden cradle here, blesses them with a child.

Similarly, number of pad locks are seen on the iron grills of the grotto. These are fixed by the devotees who are aspiring to buying a house or flat and they believe that fixing a pad lock to the grotto will enable them to buy a house of their choice.

Cradles tied to the grill
Cradles tied to the grill
Pad locks tied to the grill
Pad locks tied to the grill

A new church has now been built opposite the Shrine to hold masses and prayer services for the devotees. The church has a beautiful alter and a good layout.

New Church Building
New Church Building
Alter of the new church
Alter of the new church

The feast is preceded by 11 days vigil with hoisting of the flag and a concelebrated mass is held on 8th September every year. It is preceded by a car procession on 7th September. The flag is lowered at the valedictory function.

A visit to Annai Vailankanni Shine is a pilgrimage particularly for those who crave for children and a shelter.