The miraculous story of Our Lady of Vallarpadam

1752 AD. An isolated island tucked away from the hustle of olden day Kochi, which was a kingdom those days. The name of the island, which is renowned today for the Transshipment Terminal, is Vallarpadam.
On 23rd of May that year, one of the greatest miracles attributed to the Mother of Vallarpadam took place. A woman named Meenakshi amma set out for a boat journey to another island named Mattancherry, across the expansive backwaters that merged with the Arabian Sea in the West end.
The voyage across the unpredictable backwaters was often risky with potential winds from the Sea lurking around. Nonetheless, Meenakshi had no other way than to go, as they needed to reach the other shore for her baby’s ‘first meal’ ceremony. Along with her relatives, she and her baby set sail in a small country boat.
At first, the waters seemed calm. In the caressing breeze, her motherly heart began to hum a lullaby. But, when it was around 4 pm, the nature lost its temper. The sky turned dark all of a sudden. Wild winds were let loose, and the untamed waves began to rock the small boat. The baby, almost asleep, got startled and began screaming. Everyone was screaming, in fact. The oar-man made a desperate attempt to hold the toppling boat, but the mighty wind out-powered him! Everyone, including Meenakshi amma and her baby were thrown into the backwaters!
Some of them swam to life, while a few others held on to the overturned boat, until some people from nearby shores came to the rescue. But, Meenakshi amma and her baby were found missing. They had disappeared into the depth of the backwaters!
That night, Father Miguel Correya, the parish priest of the Church had a strange dream. In the dream, Our Lady of Vallarpadam appeared to him and asked him to rescue the woman and her child lost in the depth of the backwaters. The priest woke up in the morning and ignored it thinking as an improbable dream.
The next day, rescue operations were carried out, and many corpses were found and buried. The unfriendly nature, to an extent, stood against their rescue operations. One more day passed.
The next night too, the priest had the same dream. This time the Virgin was sterner in her tone. She asked him to rescue the mother and child at any cost. The priest got up from the sleep and realized that this cannot be a usual dream.
On the next day, he disclosed the dream to the parishioners and ordered an immediate rescue operation.
A group of skilled fishermen cast their nets at all possible spots. But, they didn’t get anyone except some fish! Eventually, they began to lose hope. They reasoned out: “it is already three days now; the corpses must have been decayed!”
Before the final withdrawal, a group of fishermen cast the net for one last time into the water where the boat had overturned. The men watched the water being sieved through the net. Finally, they began to life it up. The net was unusually heavy this time. No fish would weigh so. A couple of them joined and they finally lifted the net. Surprise! They saw Meenakshi amma and her baby inside the net, alive! Amazed to the core, the men oared the boat back to the shore at Vallarpadam.
Meenakshi amma, a Hindu by birth and name, was all tears. She ran to the shrine of Our Lady and broke down before the Mother. “I am your servant, for a lifetime!” she cried.
The whole island came flooding to the shrine of Our Lady. The unthinkable had happened. Three days underwater, and they are alive! The connection between the dream and its miraculous realization! Tears of faith, joy and ineffable gratitude fell on the doorway of the shrine.
The woman finally recounted what had happened: “When the winds were raging and we were drowning, I looked towards the shrine of Our Lady and made an oath that I would live a slave to her all my life. Then, holding my baby tightly, I fell into the water and went unconscious. In a vision, I saw the Virgin enveloped in golden rays with her divine baby in her hands.
I experienced a bliss I have never known in my life. I kept gazing on her divinely alluring countenance, and we were in a state of oblivion. Now, she has brought us safely to her church. I have no words to express my gratitude!”
From that day onwards, Meenakshi amma and her child, enslaved themselves to the Virgin. She christened her child as Jesudas, which means slave of Jesus. Every day, twice daily, she came to the Church and swept the courtyard of the church until her last breath.
More than two centuries have passed since this incident. The Church of Vallarpadam stands as a symbol of solace overlooking the city of Kochi and the Arabian Sea.
Faithful from distant lands come to visit her and pray for the protection of the Mother, whom they call Vallarpadathamma. The Church, in Ernakulam District, in Kerala, India was raised to the status of a Basilica on 1st December 2004 by late pope Saint John Paul II.

Abhilash Fraizer

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