Sirumalai Annai Shrine, Krishnan Koil, Virudhunagar
The Sirumalai Shrine known also as ‘Amali-malai’ belongs to W.Pudupatti Parish of Srivilliputhur Vicariate – one of the seven vicariates of the Archdiocese of Madurai. The shrine is located at the cross road of Krishnan koil Stop, falling at 70 km from Madurai to Shenkottai National Highway.
When the first parish priest of W. Pudupatti, Fr. Morier, a Jesuit from foreign country, went to celebrate mass at Nathampatti in the evening, heavy wind and rain turned to be a hurdle for his travel. The bullocks of the cart, when nearing Sirumalai, lied down without any reason. He could not further make a move of the cart in spite of many trials to wake them up. So the saintly priest happened to spare the night at the bottom of the hill. Then, Mother Mary graciously appeared to him on his dream with a demand of unavoidable requisition i.e. ‘Would you construct a church for me that the people might be gathered and blessed?’ The priest woke up with a fret and found the bullocks standing ready for travel.
He was obsessed with the thought of the vision as he returned from Nathampatti after the celebration of the mass. All the people of the village willingly seconded the idea of construction of an altar in remembrance of the Mother. When the priest and others went there with a mind of finding a location where the church could be built up, a band of wolves of was found in a spot. All of them ran away into the forest. But in a particular place, one of the wolves stood in a posture of praying, lifting both the front legs up and went away.
Immediately then, the priest laid a corner-stone in that cite and fixed it as a place shown by the Mother and began the work of the construction of the church. He also easily acquired the land around the church from the rulers of the time by his political prudence. He planted hundreds of trees that bear fruits in order that the hill could look greenish. These trees served as shelter and yielded fruits for people who come seeking the blessing of the Mother.
The Christians of Marava caste, who were the proselytes by St. John de Britto, lived in the region of Ramnad. By then, it was ruled by Marudu Pandyas who, on account of religious intolerance and hatred towards the British rule, started persecuting the Christians. To escape from their hardship, the Christians moved to the region of Sirumalai which was under British control. Having been settled down at Sirumalai they set up a petty grotto there for the Mother who saved their lives and properties from being destroyed.
At present, although these people have gone to get settled at Pandalkudi near Aruppukkottai, they have made it a custom to come to Sirumalai once in a year, slaughter the sheep, offer the sacrifice and enjoy feasting all the day. It is also very sentimental to witness these people praying to the Mother with tears, hitting their heads at the wall of the church.
A Holy Spring is located right at the top of the mount about 350 meters height. Be it a rainy season or hot summer, the spring is always overflowing. Yet another wonder is that the altar of the church at the bottom of the hill and the fount at the top is set straight on the exact line.
The grotto and tower for the Mother was built by Fr. Morier in the year 1926. But the construction of the tower was not complete. Fr. M.P. Alphonse restarted the construction work of the shrine in 1993. The construction of the tower was completed during the tenure of Fr. Albin Justus. The house for priests was built when Fr. Siluvai Michael was here. By his onerous efforts, they started praying way of the cross on the hill way. The shrine began to shine when Fr. Lukas served as parish priest. It was he who constructed the cave-temple at the place where the apparition of the Mother took place. Chapel for the Blessed Sacrament also was built by him. In the year 2002 he began the construction work of road-side grotto dedicated to the mother in the name ‘good health’.
With the contribution of R.C. School teachers, the works of the grotto was finished. In the year 2010, the way to the cave temple containing 33 steps was laid. These steps were set-up to remind the people of the earthly living of Jesus. The holy cross was established at the top of the hill on April 10, 2011. The stations of way of the cross were also set up on the way toward uphill. The practice of praying way of the cross with celebration of mass at evening of every Sunday began during the lent of 2011. Houses for the pilgrims and lavatories will soon be constructed for their convenience.
From 2008, the holy Eucharist is celebrated at 11.30 in the morning on the first Sundays. From December 8, 2009 onwards the mass is celebrated at the routine of 8 days. On the first Saturdays of every month a decorated car procession with recitation of Rosary begins from the good-health grotto on the road side and the mass continues. From July 17, 2011, onward the mass is celebrated at the altar established on the hill. Third Sunday of every month, the mass is celebrated on the hill top altar at 5. 00 p. m in the evening.
The shrine is located at the cross road of Krishnan koil Stop, falling at 70 km from Madurai to Shenkottai National Highway.