Hundreds of people are flocking to the St Ambrose Church in Edavanakkad, a small coastal village along the Arabian Sea near Kochi, after several schoolchildren reported ‘seeing’ Mother Mary under the altar inside the church premises.
On Tuesday, there was a long line of men and women waiting to offer prayers at the 150-year-old church after news of the ‘sighting’ of Mother Mary went viral on social media. There are also reports of several people being ‘healed’ of their medical afflictions after praying at the church. Men, women and children were seen kneeling at the spot where the Mother had ‘appeared’.
The first ‘sighting’ was reported on September 28, then subsequently in the weeks that followed. Children claimed they saw a tiny apparition of Mother Mary smiling and even talking to them.
“Last night around 9:30 pm, I saw the curtain moving. I thought it was the wind. When I looked carefully, it was the Mother. She was smiling. She asked me my name. She said my mother will be cured. She promised the family’s debts will go away,” Aquenas Jomon, a student of Class VI, told indianexpress.com.
“She had a blue shawl over her head and wore a tiara. When I saw for the first time, I started crying. She told me not to cry. By then, the church vicar and others came running,” he said.
Jomon said he felt a chill when the Mother ‘touched’ his head. “My hands and legs were trembling. There were a lot of people around when it happened,” he said.
Another child, Ambrose Cristi, who studies in Class VIII, also claimed to have seen and spoken to Mother Mary inside the church. “First I saw a prakasham (light). Then I saw the Mother. She said the holy spirit will guide me,” said Cristi, who comes every day to the church now.
Mathew D’Cunha, the church vicar, said pilgrims have swelled in recent weeks after news of the ‘miracle’ spread afar. “Earlier, less than 100 people would visit the church on an average day. Last Sunday, we saw at least 15,000 pilgrims. People are calling from faraway places and informing us that they are coming,” said Father D’Cunha, who has not been an eyewitness to the spectacle.
The vicar explained the Mother’s sighting at the church has coincided with the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima being sighted by three children in Portugal. The miracle was termed ‘worthy of belief’ by the Catholic Church in 1930.
“The Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Verapoly came and enquired. He is studying it. We are communicating all daily findings to him,” Father D’Cunha told indianexpress.com. “If the Pope approves, he can officially proclaim the Mother appeared at the St Ambrose Church here.”
Meanwhile, there were many, from different faiths, arriving at the church in autorickshaws, buses, and cars. They lighted candles, stood in long queues reciting the rosary. Women, especially in small groups, were heard discussing the ‘miracle.’
“I have stomach cancer and I came directly from the hospital after a chemotherapy session. This is the first time that I am coming here. I prayed and kneeled at the altar but I couldn’t see the Mother. I want Mother to cure me,” said Mary Martin, sitting on the front steps of the church.
Girija S Menon, who works as a collection agent at a bank, said she did not feel anything. “It could be true. I don’t know how to pray like them (Christians). But God is one,” she said. She attested to the huge crowds at the church last Sunday leading to roads get clogged. “My son had to take an alternate route to come home because of the crowd,” she said.
While the church authorities have so far not made any extra arrangements to handle the large crowds, they realise they may need to very soon. People selling candles and rosaries were making brisk business. More than 1 lakh rosaries were reportedly sold in the last three weeks. “We really don’t know why Our Lady chose this church and this village,” said Father D’Cunha, with a smile.