“Let the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Dantolingi, Odisha (Orissa), be a symbol of unity and peaceful coexistence,” said State Governor S C Jamir on the eve of the celebrations for the shrine’s centenary, which falls in February.
Founded in 1917 by French missionaries in gratitude to the Virgin
Mary, the place of worship is visited by the faithful of every religion
and every year attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over India.
“God loves everyone and communicates His love through the Blessed
Mother,” the governor said in a message to Mgr Sarat Chandra Nayak,
bishop of Berhampur.
The centenary will be celebrated on 11 February. Mgr John Barwa,
archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar and president of the Odisha Catholic
Bishops’ Conference (OCBC), will lead a solemn Mass.
The celebrations for the 100th anniversary will be preceded by a
novena of prayers, which started on 1 February, to 9 February. Each
day, a priest will lead the meditation and offer reflections on
Finally, the bishops will deliver a lecture on the
Catholic faith and liturgy on 10 February.
The shrine, which is located in Ganjam District (southern Orissa),
was built thanks to strong support from local Catholics and others,
convinced that the Virgin would protect them in a miraculous way from
hunger and pestilence, through her powerful intercession.
The devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes is strong, and the faithful rely
on the mother for graces. This was the case of Gabriel and Annamary
Behera, a couple married in 1930.
A few years into their marriage, unable to have children, they turned
to Mary and asked to be blessed with a son. After many years of
prayers, their son John Baptist was born in 1953.
"My mother always said with pride that I was born thanks to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes," said the fervent devotee.
In 1997 the Dantolingi shrine was elevated to parish status. “Today
the church is made up of 250 families,” said the parish priest, Fr
Sanjeeb Kumar Beero.
“Together with the Diocese of Berhampur, we try to provide the best
assistance to pilgrims. They no longer come just once a year but once a
month, on Fridays, when we organise retreats and moments of meditation."