Our Lady of Snows, Kallikulam, Thoothukudi
The Church of Our Lady of Snow is a Roman Catholic Marian church in Kallikulam, Thoothukudi district, Tamilnadu, India. It is one of the Catholic pilgrimage centres in India dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Church has tallest tower Among Churches in India with very good engineering structure. This church is maintained by Nadar community of Kalli Kulam. In recent times it became popular because of vision and apparition of Mother Mary. Locally, Our Lady of Snow is known as Panimatha. Panimatha is a TA.Mil word. In TA.Mil 'Pani (பனி)' means 'Snow' and 'Matha (மாதா)' means 'Mother'.
Every year, the annual feast of Our Lady of Snow is celebrated from 27 July to 5 August. The feast starts with a flag hoisting ceremony on 27 July in the evening. But surprisingly, along with Christians also other people worship in this church. A flag with Our Lady of Snow's image is raised up the flagpole situated just opposite to the church. On the 7th day of the feast, in the morning, a special mass is conducted on the Apparition Hill.
On the 9th day, at night, a car procession is conducted. Three very large cars participate in the procession. Our Lady of Snow's statue is placed in a Car and taken through the village streets. On the 10th day of the feast, at 6.00 A.M, the car procession comes to an end and the cars are parked near the church for worship. Then a celebratory mass honoring Our Lady of Snow is conducted. The feast comes to end with the evening novena on the 10th day.
People inhabited Kallikulam as early as 1700 AD. In 1770 AD, a thatched church was built in the name of Holy Mary by village people. In 1884, Kallikulam villagers and Jesuit Missionaries decided to build a new church at Kallikulam for Mother Mary. In 1886, a church was constructed in that place and consecrated to Our Lady of Snow. People inhabited Kallikulam as early as 1700. They built a small temple to a Hindu deity for worship. The village leader performed religious service in that temple.
Sometime after, a lady with a child in her arm frequently came in the dream of village leader and asked a particular portion of land at Kallikulam. That time Kallikulam village people were legally fighting for ownership of Kallikulam village land in the district court. That woman again came in the dream of village leader and assured her blessing to win their legal battle. On the next day, village leader and the people got final judgment in favour of them. So they decided to honor that lady. With help of a European Roman Catholic priest they came to know that that lady was Mary.
On 1770 AD, a thatched church was built in the name of Holy Mary by village people. Jesuits helped them to convert into Christianity and formed small Christian community. As catholic population increased, that church was enlarged, by Fathers Martin and Mossette on 1838.
On 1884, villagers and Jesuits decided to build a new church at Kallikulam for Our Lady. They were undecided about the size and location of the church. They prayed to Our Lady and requested her intercession to choose the location and size of church. At that time, on a hot summer morning, they found a piece of land wet with morning dew. They wondered about that unusual thing, and believed that that was a miraculous intercession of Our Lady to mark the location of proposed church.
On 5th September 1884, Rev.Father Cousanal laid foundation for new church. With donation and hard workmanship of people, church main building work was completed on 1886 and consecrated to Our Lady of Snows. The church tower work was started on 1941 and completed on 1942.
On 29th March 1939, evening around 6.30 P.M, Mary appeared on a hill near to the church. She appeared in the middle of bright white light. Six young people (Gnana Athikkam, S.P. John, M.G. Thomas, D. Thasan, R. Thasan, and M.A. Thasan) saw that apparition and informed that to parish priest Rev. Father Marianoos and the village people. Rev. Father Marianoos and the people were uncertain about that apparition and decided to request Mary to confirm that apparition. They prayed to Mary and requested to confirm that apparition by a natural sign. The next day, on that hot summer season, the arid zone Kallikulam got an unusual heavy rain after thirteen years.
Since then, thousands of people of all faiths, from all over India, have visited Kallikulam and have left spiritually strengthened and renewed. Countless unbelievers and physically or mentally afflicted, have been converted and healed. Not only do multitudes of Catholic travel there throughout the year but many non-Christians visit as well. Hundreds of miraculous cures are reported every year. Our Lady of Snows devotions down through the centuries have proved the place to be of divine origin.
The church architecture is based on Roman architecture. It has three towers, one main tower and two sub towers. The main tower height is 160 feet and sub tower height is 68 feet. The church building height is 55 feet. The total length of church is 151 feet and width is 56 feet. The main tower has internal spiral steps for 143 feet. The main statue of “Our lady of Snows” and church bell were brought from France.
An oral tradition in Tamil Nadu states that on 29 March 1939 around 6.30 P.M, six young people claim that they saw the Mother Mary appear on a hill near to the Church. People from different part of India visit Apparition hill on first Saturday of every month.
The Apparition Hill
From the time of Adam, God has spoken to his saints and prophets through visions, dreams, and inner voices. Miraculous events are common in the worlds of the Old and New Testaments, and the lives of the saints are marked by supernatural intervention. The last century-and-a-half has seen numerous accounts of appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus, Himself, is said to speak to a few of the seers. Some of the apparitions have received official approval by the Roman Catholic Church.
On 29th March 1939, evening around 6.30 P.M, Mary appeared on a hill near to the church at Kallikulam. She appeared in the middle of bright white light. Veiled in white, she stood towards the church and worshipped with folded hands. A water fall was falling down from her feet. Six young people (Gnana Athikkam, S.P.John, M.G.Thomas, D.Thasan, R.Thasan, and M.A.Thasan) saw that apparition.
They saw that apparition for few seconds and after that it disappeared. Next day morning they went to the apparition hill and found a pair of human foot print on the rock at the apparition site. They marked the foot print and informed that apparition to parish priest Rev. Father Marianoos, school head master Laxmana Iyer and the village people. Rev. Father Marianoos and the people did not believe them initially.
The head master told that he would believe that apparition only if he saw a real waterfall from the hill. It was a drought time and for 13 years there was no rain in the arid zone Kallikulam. On that day after noon, around 3 P.M there was a heavy rainfall for one and half an hour, in and around of Kallikulam. A waterfall formed on the hill top at the apparition site. After that natural sign, they believed that apparition, and setup a Pandal (temporary structure) with coconut leaves on the apparition site. A stone cross is placed on the apparition site.
Every night a Hurricane lamp was lit up at that place. One day the Hurricane lamp fell down and rolled over the hill and reached down the hill foot. There people found the Hurricane lamp straight and lit without any damage. After some time, a young boy from Singamparai village came to the hill to get cured from his disability. All his hand fingers were folded and he was not able to do any work. One day he poured oil on the foot print at the apparition site and rubbed it with his palm and fingers. At once his fingers were unfolded. He was very happy and with great gratitude he told that miracle to village people and showed his fingers.
On 1940, construction of steps to apparition site was started. That time Rs. 2.5 was the labour charge to carve a step on the Apparition hill. So many people sent money to build steps to the Apparition site by Money Order. It was during the World War II. Most of the Money orders came from military people. From that donation and other offerings the village people built steps and side support pillars to the Apparition site on the hill.
On 1941, Tuticorin bishop Roch Victoria came to this hill and blessed it and laid a commemorative plaque. One Grotto was constructed on the hill in the commemoration of Our Lady's apparition. Since then, people from the parish and from the surrounding areas gathering there every Saturday. Every Saturday evening prayer service is conducted here. Every year, a ten day annual feast is celebrated here. The celebration starts with the flag hoisting ceremony. During feast, morning mass and evening novenas are conducted.
The seventh day of annual feast of Our Lady of Snows Kallikulam is celebrated here with morning celebrity mass. On Good Friday, after Stations of the Cross prayer service, Holy Communion service is celebrated here. People from different part of India visit Apparition hill on first Saturday of every month.
Every year, the annual feast of Our Lady of Snows Kallikulam is celebrated between 27th July to 5th August in a colourful and jubilant atmosphere. This ten days feast is very popular in this area. Thousands of people converged on the grounds of the Our Lady of Snows Kallikulam church during the feast.
The feast commences with flag hoisting ceremony on 27th July, evening. A flag with Our Lady of Snows image is hoisted in a flag post situated just opposite to the church. This is followed by Rosary, Novena Prayers, Litany, Sermon and Benediction. During the feast days morning two special masses and evening Rosary, Novena Prayers, Litany, Sermon and Benediction are conducted.
On 7th day of the feast, morning a holy mass is conducted on the Apparition Hill in commemoration of Mary's apparition on the hill. On 8th day of the feast a grand mass is conducted in the morning by Bishop. In that mass children take Holy Communion for the first time. In the evening Eucharistic procession and solemn festive vesper and benediction is conducted.
On 9th day of the feast, evening a grand vespers is conducted by Bishop. After that around 12.00 A.M a midnight mass is conducted. That is followed by an illuminated car procession. Three massive cars participate in the procession. Our Lady of Snows' statue is placed in the main car and taken through the village streets by the devotees in a colourful procession singing hymns and reciting prayers. Thousands of people participate in this procession and pray to Our Lady of Snows. It lasts for six hours.
On 10th day of the feast morning 6.00 A.M the car procession comes to an end and the cars are parked near the church for worship. The feast will culminate with solemn festive High Mass celebration. During the feast tens of thousands from all faiths visit the shrine. They pray to Our Lady of Snows for thanks giving or requesting of favors.
The entire area is decorated with festoons and colorful lights. The shrine looks more spectacular due to the decorations and assembly of people from all walks of life. Silver plates, shaped like human parts are sold in the church stall. The sick and suffering, choose one that corresponds to their ailment and donate it to Our Lady of Snows with the pious hope that Our Lady of Snows will cure their ailment. Various sports events, cultural programs and entertainment programs are organized as part of the feast.
Every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday: - First Mass in the morning at 5.30 A.M and Second Mass in the evening at 6.30 P.M in our Lady of Snows Church. Every Tuesday: - First Mass in the morning at 5.30 A.M in St.Antony's Church and Second Mass in the evening at 6.30 P.M in our Lady of Snows Church. Every Friday: - First Mass in the morning at 5.30 A.M in St. Michael’s Church and Second Mass in the evening at 6.30 P.M in our Lady of Snows Church. Every Sunday: - First Mass 5.00 A.M & Second Mass 7.00 A.M and Benediction evening at 6.30 P.M in our Lady of Snows Church. Every month last Tuesday there will be a Mass in the evening at 6.30 P.M in St.Antony's Church in Siluvai Patti.
Schedule for the month of May
Every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday:- Only one Mass in the morning at 5.30 A.M & Benediction in the evening at 6.30 P.M in Our Lady of Snows Church. Every Tuesday:- First Mass in the morning at 5.15 A.M in St.Antony's Church and Second Mass again in the morning at 5.45 A.M in our Lady of Snows Church. And Benediction evening at 6.30 P.M in our Lady of Snows Church. Every Friday :- First Mass in the morning at 5.15 A.M in St. Michael’s Church and Second Mass again in the morning at 5.45 A.M in our Lady of Snows Church. And Benediction evening at 6.30 P.M in our Lady of Snows Church. Every Sunday: - First Mass 5.00 A.M & Second Mass 7.00 A.M and Benediction evening at 6.30 P.M in our Lady of Snows Church.
Schedule for First Saturday of the Month
Every first Saturday of the month, evening at 6.30 P.M a grand Mass is celebrated in Our Lady of Snows Church. Thousands of people from Tamilnadu and Kerala participate in that mass. After the Mass fellowship meal is served.
Our Lady of Snow Church,
Kallikulam, Thoothukudi District,
Tamilnadu, India – 627113.
Phone: 04637 235161.