Get startled at Pondicherry! Some 9 km from the downtown of Pondicherry, there lies an interesting place called The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Villianur. This Roman Catholic Church in Pondicherry is devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes and is counted amongst those highly revered shrines in the city. Erected in the year 1876 by Rev. Fr. Tharbes, the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes has an influence from Basilica in France. The effigy of Our Lady installed in the church was imported from Lourdes under the direction of Bernadette. The statue was installed in the year 1887 in the church premises which was named after the Pope Leo XIII. Besides the shrine, the main feature in of this cathedral is the church tank, which can be seen in most of the Hindu temples. The purpose of installing this tank is still unknown; was it built for the necessity or for any other reason, no one knows. However, a lot of devotees can be seen taking a bath as a long-standing ritual during the festival time of honouring Madonna.
The festival is observed in the month of June. This sacred pond is located within the vicinity of the church, right before the cathedral. It is said that the pond was once used for irrigation of the lands located around and it was constructed by the Rev. Fr. Lesbond. The statue of Holy Mother has been installed right at the centre of this pond which one of the main features of this popular Christian shrine in Pondicherry. Just for the fact, the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes is the only cathedral in entire Asia with a sacred pond in its premises. A holy dip in this sacred pond is believed to cure the disease of a person along with bringing good fortune in his life.
Another prime feature of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Pondicherry includes is the Grotto which was installed 19 years after the construction of the church. The structure of this Grotto was planned by the Rev. Fr. Deussen as per the guidelines of Second Vatican conference. On 10th October 1977, the first pilgrimage on foot was organized at the church to commemorate Our Lady of Lourdes for saving the city from a cyclone. The pilgrimage on foot started from Pondicherry. Since then, on the second Saturday of the month October, this pilgrimage on foot is observed at the church every year.
History and Legend
It was the year 1867 when missionaries in Pondicherry adjudicated to build a cathedral. Ten years later, the church got ready and Rev. Fr. Tharbes became the first priest of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes. Outside France, this is the first Church on the name of Our Lady of Lourdes. After a year of the church’s inception, the statue of Holy Mother installed in the church was donated by the French Government.
Furthermore, an interesting legend also surrounds the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes. It goes like this, once a man from Kumbakonam named Thambusamy Mudalia, prayed to Holy Mother before the statue at Our Lady of Lourdes in Villianur to cure his eyes. Later, he got cured by the blessings of Lady Lourdes. From then, a large pack of devotees started to come to this place with a hope to get away from their infirmities. Seeing all this, Archbishop went to Rome in the year 1885 to tell the stories of miracles to Holy Father about this place. As a result of this, the church was declared an official shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes on 21st February 1886.
Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Church Street, Villianur, Pondicherry - 605110, India.
The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes remains open all days a week. Moreover, the timings of the church remain the same in every season. Also, the mass timings differ weekends and weekdays.
Week Days: 6:00 AM.
1st Saturday: 6:00 AM, 11:30 AM and 6:00 PM.
Sunday: 6:00 AM and 7:30 AM.
Best Time to Visit
Winter is the best time to visit the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes. Marks its onset in the month of October, the winter season in Pondicherry enjoys a cool and pleasant weather condition that remains ideal for tourism in the region. The season ends in the month of March.