On 26 December 2004, a huge, twelve-metre-high tsunami stopped at the threshold of the Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health in Vailankanni, India, with a congregation of 2000 people attending Mass inside.

The Basilica in Vailankanni stands 100 metres from the seashore, on the same levelas the other buildings around it. From a scientific point of view, it is inexplicable how the tsunami, which reached half a kilometre inland, destroying all the buildings both in front of and behind the basilica, left it intact. All the structures around the basilica were completely destroyed by the masses of sea water.Over 1000 people who were outside the basilica died in the disaster, while over 2000 people attending Mass were not even aware of what was happening. The bishop of the localdiocese, Devadass Ambrose, said that a supernatural intervention of God had taken place and that it was an incredible miracle. He explained that a bus depot located behind the shrine, 500 metres from the shore, was flooded and houses and hotels around the basilica were totally destroyed by a 12-metre-high wave. Why did that wave stop in front of the shrine gates, which are 100 metres from the beach? There is only one answer: it was an extraordinary act of God, protecting the shrine and the people inside it. In a press release of 27 January 2005, Bishop Devadass unequivocally said that we had witnessed a great miracle.

Each year, hundreds of people are miraculously healed of various sicknesses at Vailankani, and many others undergo a conversion

Professor Henryk Szydłowski believes this to be the greatest miracle of the twenty-first century. He writes: “The miraculous saving of the Vailankanni Shrine helps us better understand the fragment of the Book of Exodus (Exod 14:15-31) in which we find the story of Israelites crossing the Red Sea between two ‘walls’ of water on their right hand and on their left.”

A similar occurrence took place on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The Santhome Basilica in Chennai was miraculously saved from the tsunami on 26 December 2004. All the buildings around it were completely destroyed by sea water, which did not even touch the basilica. This magnificent sacred edifice was erected on the spot where St Thomas the Apostle had been buried in 72 AD. Localpeople tell the story of St Thomas driving a pile into the ground in front of the church steps before his death and saying that sea water would never reach that place. Hundreds of local residents fleeing the tsunami took refuge in the basilica, thus surviving the terrible disaster.

The most effective safeguard against the loss of salvation is offering oneself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The history of the Vailankanni Shrine

On a hot summer day in 1560, as every morning, a boy named Tamilwas carrying milk from the village of Vailankanni to a rich man who lived in the town of Nagapattinam, 10 kilometres away. On his way, Tamil stopped for a short nap in the shade of a large fig tree. A strong gust of wind woke him up and he saw in front of his eyes the beautiful figure of Our Lady cradling the Infant Jesus. They radiated love, joy and peace. Tamil felt loved and accepted. Our Lady smiled at him and asked for milk to feed Jesus. Tamilwillingly gave her all the milk he had. He saw the enchanting smile of little Jesus, who, to Tamil’s great surprise, drank all the milk there was in the vessel. Our Lady thanked Tamil and the apparition was gone. The boy found himself in serious trouble. When he arrived at the rich man’s place where the milk was to be delivered, he told the man what had happened to him on the way. The rich man got angry and accused Tamil of lying. He raised the lid of the empty can and when they both peered inside, to their great wonderment, they saw it fill with milk up to the brim. Having witnessed an obvious miracle, they ran right away to the site of the apparition, where Our Lady with the Infant Jesus appeared to them again. Local Christians believed that Our Lady had appeared there and started coming to the site in order to pray and to entrust to Jesus, through the intercession of Our Lady, all their suffering and problems. People began to be miraculously healed and converted on the site. A few years later, another boy, whose legs were paralysed, was selling buttermilk to passers-by close to the site of apparitions in Vailankanni. One day, an extraordinary luminosity appeared in front of him, in the midst of which he saw the beautiful figure of Our Lady with the Infant Jesus. Both were dressed in white and radiated incredible warmth, love and peace. Our Lady asked the boy for a cup of buttermilk for Jesus. He handed it to her with joy and was satisfied to see the Infant Jesus drink all its contents. Our Lady thanked the boy for his generosity and asked him to go to Nagapattinam and tell a Catholic living there to build a church on the site of her apparitions. The boy said that he would be only too happy to carry out this request but his legs were paralysed and he had to wait for his mother to take him there. Then Our Lady asked Jesus to heal the boy. After a while, she told the lame boy to rise and walk unaided. The boy tried and to his great joy realised that he had been miraculously healed and that he could normally walk and run. He covered the 10-kilometre distance from Vailankanni to Nagapattinam as fast as his legs could carry him. He met there the man about whom Our Lady had told him and learned from him about a dream he had had the previous night in which Our Lady told him to expect a visit from a boy. The man had no more doubts and without hesitation built a chapel on the site of the Vailankanni apparitions. Inside it, he placed a statue of Our Lady with the Infant Jesus. From then on, crowds of pilgrims began to visit this small chapel. Through the intercession of Our Lady, many people were miraculously healed and converted there, while the Virgin Mary was called Our Lady of Health.

The tsunami, which reached half a kilometre inland, destroying all the buildings both in front of and behind the basilica, left it intact

The records of the shrine give an account of the miraculous saving of a Portuguese sailing ship. In the late seventeenth century, a Portuguese merchant ship was sailing from Macau to China. In the Gulf of Bengal, it encountered a violent storm. The sailors and merchants on board were deeply religious people, characterised by a special devotion to the Virgin Mary. Huge waves washed the deck of the ship and the chances that the ship would not sink were slight. The sailors were aware that only an extraordinary divine intervention could save them. So they all dropped to their knees, asking Our Lady for a miracle to save them. They swore that if they survived they would build a church devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the place where they landed. Their fervent prayer was immediately heard. The wind stopped, the sea calmed and the ship safely reached the coast at Vailankanni. When the Portuguese sailors came ashore, they first knelt down to give thanks to God and Our Lady for their miraculous saving.Next, they saw nearby the small thatched chapel with the statue of Our Lady inside. They knew they had to build a solid brick church there. The construction was begun right away. It was 8 September, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed VirginMary. Such were the beginnings of the largest shrine of Our Lady in India,in Vailankanni, known also as the Indian Lourdes. Each year, two million people go there on pilgrimage, asking Our Lady to intercede with God on their behalf and to be physically and spiritually healed; not only Catholics, but also people of other religions. Each year, hundreds of people are miraculously healed of various sicknesses there and many others undergo a conversion.

The best safeguard against the tsunami of evil

The Vailankanni miracle is a sign urging all of us to realise that the only safeguard against the greatest evil that is eternal damnation is to trustfully cling to Jesus and drown all one’s sins and all one’s misery in the ocean of his mercy. In the Catholic Church, resurrected Christ lives, teaches, forgives all sins, frees people from the bondage of Satan and gives eternal life. The most effective safeguard against the loss of salvation is offering oneself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Pope John Paul II explains that “the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means a return to the Son’s cross. It meansconsecrating the world to the pierced Heart of the Saviour – bringing it back to the source of redemption. Redemption is always greater than the sin of man and ‘the sin of the world’. The power of redemption is infinitely greater than all evil in man and the world. Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help in offering ourselves and all mankind to our only Saviour,Jesus Christ.” It is the Mother of God who guides us confidently along the roads of faith and boundless trust in her Son, Jesus Christ, so that he can free us from the bondage of sins by the power of his infinite mercy. The Mother of God asks each and every one of us to join in the work of saving ourselves, our family, our country and the world. We know that only the merciful love of Christ can overcome the whole terror of evil hanging over us and all mankind. All Jesus needs is our consent and complete trust so that he can act through us and reach everyone with his love, especially the most hardened sinners. Our total and unconditional surrender to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary is to be manifested in the following actions:

1. turning away from all sin and growing to hate it, and living a life consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church. 2. daily persistent prayer, which should consist of the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Bible reading. 3. monthly confession and a continuous care to always be in a state of sanctifying grace and, if possible, to participate daily in the Eucharist, adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and fast on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays. Meeting these recommendations of Our Lady of Fatima and continuing in the community of the Catholic Church are the only safeguards for each of us against the tsunami of evil which floods our country, Europe and the world.