Velankanni Church, a Roman Catholic church located on the coast south of Chennai, is one of India’s most important Christian shrines and a beautiful landmark in Tamil Nadu. Nicknamed the “Lourdes of the East,” the Gothic-style basilica stands on the spot where, according to local legend, an apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared three times, once to a local shepherd asking for milk, another time to cure a local buttermilk vendor and a third while rescuing a group of Portuguese sailors from a storm.
While none of the supposed miracles has been approved by the Pope, the shrine still draws millions of visitors each year. The structure as it stands today was consecrated in 1962 and granted the status of a minor basilica by Pope John XXIII.
Velankanni Church is located in the town of Velankanni, 217 miles (350 kilometers) from the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai.