Efforts on to get basilica status for Gunadala church

G.V. Ramana Rao

People of all faiths offer prayers at statue of Mother Mary in the grotto

Many miracles are attributed to Gunadala Matha

Vatican makes a thorough study before the status is bestowed

VIJAYAWADA: Lakhs of pilgrims from all corners of the State and neighbouring States like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka come to the shrine here every year to offer prayers to Gunadala Mary Matha during a three-day festival.

Pilgrims of all faiths come to offer prayers at the statue of Mother Mary in the grotto. People ailing from chronic physical afflictions offer prayers for relief. Childless couples spend an entire night in prayer and hang miniature cradles on the branches of trees on the hill slopes.

Some make an offering of their beauty to the shrine by tonsuring their head in fulfilment of their vows. Hundreds of miracles are attributed to Gunadala Matha every year.

Those reported to the parish priest are checked and confirmed by him before being recorded.

Some of the miracles experienced by the devotees and the benefits enjoyed by pilgrims are even published in the Gunadala Matha monthly magazine.

Special privileges

All this is part of a painstaking effort to have the status of ‘basilica’ bestowed on the Gunadala Matha Shrine. Any Roman Catholic Church that gets the status (in the canonical sense) of a ‘basilica’ acquires certain “privileges”. Special rituals that can’t be performed in other churches can be performed there.

Vijayawada Bishop Prakash Mallavarapu says that he has made inquires about the process of getting ‘basilica’ status on the shrine here when he went to Rome recently and brought an application.

The two famous basilicas in the country are ‘Our Lady of Good Health’ at Vailankanni in Tamil Nadu and another in Mumbai. “Though Vatican receives several applications, a thorough study is made before the status is given to a church,” he says.

Lakhs of pilgrims visit Vailankanni, which is also known as the ‘Lourdes of the East’, every year.

It is one of the minor basilicas just like the one at the Grotto at Lourdes, a small town in Southern France.

Two types

The Roman Catholic basilicas are classified into two types – the greater or patriarchal and the lesser or minor ones. The four basilicas in Rome – St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul-without-the-walls – are known as the major or patriarchal basilicas.

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