The Vallarpadam Church of the Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom is a place of worship with an interesting history of its own. Located in Ernakulam, Kerala, the church was built by the Portuguese Missionaries in the year 1524. The main deity in the church is, of course, Holy Mary, and she is also fondly known as ‘Vallarapadath Amma’ by her pilgrims.
The Story of the Painting
The Vallarpadam church is an extremely beautiful building with a picture of Mary and Infant Jesus gracing the top portion of the main altar. This picture was also brought in by the Portuguese merchants, as demanded by Vasco Da Gama in 1524.
The church is one of the famous churches in Kerala, which was nearly destroyed in the heavy flood of 1676, was later reconstructed. The floods really brought about massive destruction of the church and the picture was found floating in the backwaters. This painting was titled ‘Blessed Mary of Mercy’.
The retrieval of the picture after the floods is also an interesting story. It was becoming next to impossible to retrieve the picture, but Paliyath Raman Valiyachan, the Prime Minister (Diwan) of Maharaja of Cochin was the only person who was able to rescue it. Raman Valiyachan thus played a major role in the history of the church and devotees later honored him by placing a sanctuary lamp in his name. This lamp, which was actually donated by him, can still be seen burning bright, night or day.
In the year 1888, the church was declared a special church by Pope Leo XIII.
More Miracle Stories
Another interesting story is also attached to the church, and people call it a miracle. In May 1752, a young Nair Lady named Meenakshi belonging to the Palliyil Veedu, a noble family in Vallarpadam, was sailing towards Mattancherry along with her one-year-old son. The storm intensified, and their boat capsized. The men in the boat managed to swim to safety, but they couldn’t save the woman or the child.
As she was on the verge of drowning, the young mother made a solemn promise that she and her son would remain, slaves of Vallarpadathamma, if they were saved. At about that time, the parish priest had a dream of a woman drowning, and as per the instructions in the dream, he sent fishermen to cast a net in the river.
Meenakshi Amma and her son were rescued after three days. After the incident, both mother and son became staunch devotees of Mother Mary and were baptized as Christians. They lived in the churchyard, and the family still lives near the church. You can still see the picture of the woman and her child inside the temple.
There are other miracle stories attached to the church; some of them big, some of them minor. Childless couples visit the Mother so they can have children, sick people pour out their woes to her and she would heal them. It has been proven time and again that Vallarapadathamma has exerted profound influence in the lives of thousands of people, and if you call out to the mother in pure love and devotion, she would also respond with love and blessings.
How to Reach Vallarpadam
The Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom is at Vypin, so you can hop on to any bus that would take you there. If you are coming from Aluva or Kochi International Airport, you can take a bus to Ernakulam High Court junction, and from there to Vypin..
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