Holy Mary, Annai Velangkanni
This unique Marian shrine (read here for The Shrine Story) dedicated to Our Lady of Good Heath is called Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni. Based on the popular decoration to Mary who is said to have appeared in 17th century in a coastal village called Veilankanni, in Tamil Nadu India and she has come to be known as Annai Velangkanni, meaning Mother of Velangkanni just as Mary our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima. Now she has taken her residence in Medan, for the first time to make it an archdiocesan pilgrimage centre in Indonesia.
The uniqueness of this shrine lies in the originality of its Indo-Mogul architecture, in its ornaments and display of colours done by amateur hands and above all in its Biblical content. This majestic looking building resembles a towering temple, which will certainly draw the attention of any person by Sandwiched, as it were, between two housing estates, Taman Sakura Indah and Taman Alamanda Indah, the shrine could be noticeable from afar. Multipurpose building in nature, the shrine consists of two floors ; A community Hall on the ground floor and a place of worship on the first floor with a balcony and scene storey tower with triple domes, symbolizing Heaven, the abode of the Triune God Almighty. By its left side lies a little chapel of Annai Velangkanni used for daily prayers and in front of it is a beautiful Mini Garden dedicated to the memory of Marian Pope John Paul II. In addition you can see a Children’s Park at the back of the Chapel with in the shrine complex an area of 6000 square meters.
The ceiling above the altar representing The Sistine Chapel at Vatican
As any one enters the main gate he will not fail to notice the inculturation welcome of North sumatra with traditional Batak houses in miniature, adorning the entrance. The visitor could immediately feel that he is entering a pilgrimage centre which is a place of welcome and encounter of God with His people at the sea, the asphalted road in the form of man falling in prostration before the Majesty of God and the two ramps that lead to the second floor where huge statue of Annai Velangkanni with the baby Jesus stands, look like the two arms of Mary receiving the visitors with a motherly embrace.
Just in front of the Community Hall is located an attractive fountain symbolic of Jacob’s Well where the Gospel scene of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman who came to draw water is depicted.
Side view of the shrine
When the visitors starts his tour, the shrine will begin narrating the Biblical history of Salvation starting from creation until the Second Coming of Jesus through its structure, ornaments and paintings.The whole concept of the shrine was inspired by one of the contemplations on the mystery of incarnation as suggested in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order. The designers, Rev. Fr. James Bharataputra S.J, has tried to give a concrete form to his life-long contemplation as a Jesuit.
At the entrance of the second floor stand two huge statues of St. Paul, the Apostle of nations and St. Francis Xavier, the Apostle of Asia welcoming the visitors. As soon as we want to step into shine’s main church we are greeted by the Lord ” Come to me all you who work hard and who carry heavy burdens and I will refresh you” making us at home in His house.The interior of the church is studded fully with relief, paintings, and ornaments it is a feast for our eyes. The Altar with its background is another unique feature. The dome above the altar has three paintings describing the Second Coming of Christ and the Last Judgment scene. If anyone who happens to visit Medan and fails to pay a visit to Graha maria Annai Velangkanni, he will certainly miss something in his life.
Rev. Fr. James Bharataputra, S.J. designer, architect, and contractor of this monumental shrine
The shrine of Mary Annai Velangkanni was under construction from September 2001 up to September 2005 and was declared open by Acting Governor Drs. Rudolf Pardede of North Sumatra Province in Indonesia and the dedication of the Shrine was performed by the Mgr. A.G. Pius Batubara OFM Cap., the archbishop of Medan on 1 October 2005. As the shrine contains too many details to narrate within this short space, it would be better if you can come and see for yourselves for “to see is to believe”