NATIONAL SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF VALLARPADAM, Vallarpadom which belongs to the Archdiocese of Verapoly is a famous Pilgrim Center for every humanity irrespective of caste creed and religion. More than five lakhs of people visit the Shrine annually. This holy shrine is situated in the Vallarpadam island near Eranakulam , Kerala. This Shrine is adorned with the magnificent and miraculous picture of holy mary & infant Jesus, popularly known as VALLARPADATHAMMA. This picture of Our Lady of Ransom traces its origin back to the early 16th century.
In 1524, Portuguese merchants headed by Vasco da Gama enthroned this miraculous picture of Our lady of Ransom at the shrine. The church was dedicated to the Holy Spirit, which was the first of its kind in Asia. The beautiful church was however destroyed by a heavy flood in 1676 and the picture of Our Lady was floating in the river. Many tried to recover the picture, but vain.
At this time Paliyath Raman Valiyachan (Komi Achan), the Prime Minister of the Maharaja of Cochin was on his way to Chendamangalam in a boat. He found the holy picture of Our Lady Of Ransom afloat in the waters. He tried it and it was easily recovered by him. His faith in Our Lady Of Ransom was so deep that he donated his land in island to build a new church for VALLARPADATHAMMA. The magnificent shrine as you see it now was built on this land. The sanctuary lamp he donated has been burning all the while right from 1676. In fact the oil for the lamp was provided by the palace till 1947. Circumstantial constraints wear out certain traditions. The Paliyath family, however, visited the shrine and rekindled the sanctuary lamp on September 23, 1994. This event was highlighted in the book “Vallarpadam Church and the Paliyam family”. The 300 year old sanctuary lamp burns even today.
In 1752 with the grate miracle of saving meenakshiyamma and her child from the great depths, Vallapadom became a famous pilgrim center. In 1888 taking into consideration to spiritual importance His Holiness Pope Leo XIII declared the main Altar to the status of ALTARE PRIVILEGIATUM in perpetuum concessuma.
In 1951 The Govt. of India declared the Church as a major pilgrim centre of country. In the Year 2002 The Government of Kerala declared the church as important tourist center in kerala.
In 2004 Sept. 12 as the first step towards making shrine a minor Basilica with the endorsement of C B C I standing committee the shrine was declared as a NATIONAL SHRINE.
The miraculous portrait of Our Lady of Vallarpadam is painted on a single wooden piece of 39 inches length and 26 inches wide. the colours are all made out of natural elements and shaded. The picture shows our Lady above our ankles. She carries the child Jesus on her left arm. she holds out a white piece of cloth as if to give it to us. And yes ! She gave it to Meenakshi - Amma, for she wears the similar cloth. (There is a local legend that at first the Nair lady Meenakshi - Amma was drawn without upper garment, as that was the custom. But on completion when the artist called the authorities to see the portrait the garment was there !) Child Jesus holds out his right hand towards our Lady as if showing all the people His mother.
In his left hand he holds a book signifying the importance of the Bible. Our Lady looks at us with love and she wears a deep red dress and the head is covered with a dark blue veil. On the veil a little above the forehead there is a golden cross with five precious stones and on her right shoulder a star is picturised. The picture of the Nair lady,Meenakshi - Amma and her child were later added to the portrait , after the miracle involving them happened.