The Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom, Vallarpadam-Ernakulam is a large centre of pilgrimage, located in Kerala. People from all parts of India go to the church to seek the blessings of Mary, popularly known as “Vallarpadathamma”. Vallarpadam is situated next to Bolgatty Island and linked to the Ernakulam mainland via the new Goshree bridges.
This Basilica which is a national Shrine has a long history. In the year 1524, Portuguese missionaries who came with Vasco Da Gama established a chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit with a picture of Blessed Virgin Mary in the form of Our Lady of Ransom. This is the first Church in Asia dedicated to the Holy Spirit.
In the year 1752, a woman by the name of Palliveetil Meenakshiamma and her child were miraculously saved through the intercession of Vallarpadamma, when then almost drowned in flood waters. The woman and her child were swept away in the flood, causing the mother to pray to the Lady of Ransom that if we she and her child were saved; she would become a devoted servant of Our Lady. The spiritual practice of submitting oneself to the protection of Vallarpadamma originated at this time and became a popular form of devotion. This ‘Servant’ ritual is performed by the fishermen and sailors to invoke the divine protection before they venture out to the sea.
In the year 1888, prompted by the continuing miracles attributed to the Lady of Vallarpadathamma , Pope Leo XIII elevated the main alter of this shrine to the status of Altare Privilegiatum in Perpetuum meaning ‘privileged altar for the celebration of daily mass’. The Government of India declared this shrine as a ‘Major Pilgrimage Centre of the Country’ in the year 1951. In the year 2004, this church is declared as a National Shrine. The Venerable Pope John Paul II elevated this Church to the status of a Minor Basilica in the same year.