Large number of devotees thronged the ‘Arogya Matha’ church in Khairatabad to commemorate the birthday of Mary, mother of Jesus, on Saturday. It was attended by people of all faiths besides the Christian community.

Devotees thanked ‘Mother Mary’ for favours received, a few offered candles, silver articles, coconuts and flowers as a mark of gratitude. A festive atmosphere prevailed at the venue.

People from different parts of the State as well as from other South Indian States flocked to the church since early morning in the belief that their needs will be addressed and sickness cured, explained Father Narisetty Anthony Paulraj, Parish priest of Shrine of Our Lady of Health.

Celebrations began with the birthday mass by Father Paulraj at 4 a.m. Holy Mass in three languages -- Telugu, English and Tamil was held for the benefit of devotees. The pontifical Holy Mass was conducted by Rev. Thumma Bala, Archbishop of Hyderabad.

The procession of the idol of Mother Mary holding infant Jesus was taken out in the evening through the streets of Chintalbasti and A.C. Guards. The statue was replaced in a flower-decorated glass enclosure in the church after the procession ended.

Church authorities said around 2.5 lakh people visited the church for the event and expect the rush to continue till Sunday evening when the flag will be lowered, signifying the end of the celebrations.

It was hoisted on August 29 and was followed by nine-day Novena.

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