Located at Alamelupuram Poondi village in Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu, this Basilica of Our Lady of Poondi was originally built by a Italian priest by name Fr.Constatine Josesh Beschi, S.J. between 1714-1718. In 1956, the church building began to wear out needing immediate attention. But the parish priest Fr.Lourdes Xavier did not have the resources to take up the work. So, he fasted and prayed to our Holy Mother for 15 days. On the 15th day, he predicted that the front portion of the church would come down on its own by that afternoon. As predicted by him, the front portion of the church came down, which was witnessed by many people present. With the assistance of the people, the church was rebuilt in 1964 and the alter was renovated in 1994. This church was declared a Shrine by Bishop Peter Remigius on 22nd January,1995 and declared as a minor Basilica by Pope John Paul II on 3d August, 1999.
The statue placed in this Basilica is one of the many statues of our Lady of Lourdes sent to different countries around the world. This statue depicts Our Lady as she appeared at Lourdes. The uniqueness of this statue is when one looks at it, one has a feeling of seeing a living person.
Lots of miracles are reported to have taken place here. People, not only from India, but from the sub-continent have started to visit the shrine.
One of the relics placed in the alter of the church is a small piece of original cross of Jesus brought to Poondi from Rome by Fr.Rayappar in 1976.
The museum displays offerings of silver and gold made by the devotees for various favours received. The accompanying documents are mostly in Tamil.
There is a beautiful Children’s park built near the entrance to the Basilica. A statue of Mother Mary is placed inside the park in keeping with the atmosphere of the place. Behind the church, there are a variety of birds and small animals placed in cages. Annual feast of the Basilica is held on 15th May every year when thousands of devotees visit the place. The Shrine provides non-AC accommodation at nominal rate for the prilgrims.
The nearest railway station to reach this Shrine is Budalur at a distance of 18 kms. Thanjavur station is at a distance of 35kms and Trichy is at a distance of 35 kms. The nearest Airport is Trichy which is at a distance of 45 kms.
There are regular State/private buses plying from Chennai, Vailankanni, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Kallanai, Trichy, Lalgudi, Pullambadi and Perambalur etc.