The Beginning 1524
The magnificent and miraculous picture of Mary and Infant Jesus, installed at the top of the main altar of the Vallarpadam Church, was brought by Portuguese merchants under the leadership of Vasco Da Gama in 1524.
The Flood of 1676
In 1676 the old Church, which was known as the Church of the Holy Spirit, founded by the Portuguese missionaries, was destroyed by the heavy flood and the picture of Our Lady was found floating in the backwaters. Nobody except Paliyath Raman Valiyachan, the Prime Minister of Maharaja of Cochin, could recover it.The beautiful church at Vallarpadam which you see now is built on the land which was donated by Paliyath Raman Valiyachan. He is gratefully remembered in Vallarpadathamma and his generosity towards the church, by lighting the Sanctuary lamp, which he himself donated and which has been burning day and night from 1676 onwards.The church was re-established in 1676 and the famous picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected by Portuguese who brought it from their native land. The picture is believed to have miraculous powers.
The Great Miracle of 1752
In May 1752, there occurred a great miracle which made Vallarpadam a famous Pilgrim Centre
In Vallarpadam there was a young Nair Lady named Meenakshiyamma, who was a member of a noble family called Palliyilveedu. Together with her son, she was going to Mattancherry in a non-mechanised boat. There arose a stor
m and the boat capsized. Meenakshiyamma and her son went deep down into the backwater. While they were in danger Meenakshiyamma promised Vallarpadathamma that if they were rescued by her they would be her Adimas (servants) until their death. On the third day, as per instructions in a dream, the parish priest asked the fishermen to cast net in the river, and Meenakshiyamma and her son were rescued. This incident is depicted in the picture mentioned above. From that day onwards, people, especially those who travel by boats and ships, come to Vallarpadam and pray for their safe journey.
Meenakshiyamma and her son received baptism and became Christians and were named Mary and Jesudas respectively. They were living in the Churchyard itself adoring the Lord and thanking Our Lady and proclaiming the “good news” to all those who came here. Her family is still living, which is quite near to the church.
Papal Status of Altare Privilegiatum in Perpetuum Concessum in 1888
Due to its spiritual importance, His Holiness Pope Leo XIII elevated its main altar to the status of Altare Privilegiatum in Perpetuum Concessum in 1888. A Privileged Altar (Latin: Altare Privilegiatum) is an altar in a Roman Catholic church where a plenary indulgence is granted whenever Mass is celebrated there.
Goverment of India Major Pilgrim Centre declaration in 1951
In 1951 the Union Government of India declared it as a major pilgrim centre.
National Shrine declaration in 2004
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 Roman Catholic Church raised the historic Marian pilgrimage destination on the Vallarpadam Island to the status of a National Pilgrim Centre. The documents related to the raising of the status of the Our Lady of Ransom Church on the island was handed over recently to the Archbishop of Varappuzha Daniel Acharuparampil by the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Cardinal Telesphore P. Topo.
Papal Status of Basilica in 2004.
The Venerable Pope John Paul II elevated this Church to the status of a Minor Basilica in the 2004