Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni

Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni

Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni – The magnificent Marian Shrine of Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni is dedicated to the Blessed Mother Mary who is known in India as Annai Velangkanni Arokia Matha (Our Lady of Good Health). Graha means home or sanctuary or shrine in Sanskrit. Built in 2005, it is located on the outskirts of the city of Medan in the North Sumatra province of Indonesia.

Aerial-1Built with an Indonesian touch, the architecture of this shrine is totally different from the norm and the uniqueness of this lofty and imposing structure lies in the originality of its Indo-Mughal architectural blend, in its ornaments and display of colors done by amateur hands and above all in its Biblical content.

Several religious symbols adorn the building, but these are in harmony with the structure of the shrine and form a beautiful unity. Aesthetic and religious values blend in to express the loftiness and the great mystery of the divine majesty. If you feel that you would like to go on a pilgrimage, then this Marian Shrine of Annai Velangkanni would be a good choice.The originator of the Shrine is Father James Barathaputra, SJ. He is a Jesuit priest from India and had served in Indonesia for more than 50 years.

Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni

Father James dreamt of a Graha Maria (Marian Shrine) to be a CHURCH OF PROCLAMATION – to spread the Good News of Jesus and devotion to Mother Mary. He had a vision to make the Graha Maria a place where everybody of all races and religions, rich or poor can call home – to seek peace, solace, healing and divinity. Hence there are no visible Catholic symbols or features externally.


Towards this end, he wanted a Church that is unique – where Catholics can reinforce their faith and non-Catholics can experience and learn about another faith in an environment where their respective faith is also represented in the features of the building. The Indo-Mughal design makes it look like a church, temple and mosque all in one. The Graha Maria seeks to teach humanity the story of Salvation History of mankind, based on the Bible and the teachings of the Church through its format, symbolism, ornaments, sculpture and paintings.


The shrine was conceived to be a place where heaven and earth meet and where God Almighty, the Trinity of Christian faith would like to meet human beings of good will to give them a taste of the divine. The Medan Archbishop Msgr AG Pius Datubara OFMCap showed a keen interest in the project and actively encouraged Fr. James with his vision for the church.

Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni

It is a dream come true and also a miracle that Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni could be completed. There were no fixed financial backers, no building committee for fund raising, no qualified designer and architect, no professional contractor and no real artist to do the paintings and relief works, except a highly qualified Catholic engineer, Dr. Ir. Johannes Tarigan who offered his services free to work out the structure and supervise the construction of the building.
Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni was built by the hands of amateurs and relied on funding from donors. But as it turned out, the fact that God was behind all these efforts to create such a beautiful church and community hall is plain for us to see.

Miraculously money kept flowing in to the point that construction works started with only USD 12,000 and there was no holding back. Once construction started, money was not the stumbling block. Whenever money was needed for the building, it was there for the taking. It just kept flowing from benefactors of all races, religion and nationalities. The total cost for the construction of the church was 4 billon Ruppiah (USD 500,000) which is very low considering the magnitude of the building and 60% of the funds came from Indonesian donors, 10% from India, Malaysia and Singapore and 30% came from a single Chinese family in Singapore (Philip Tong Guan Beng & Grace Tong-Lam Chi Lian). When the building was completed, money stopped.

Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni Divine Providence

  • Provided the never ending flow of funds to build the shrine;
  • Brought publicity and awareness to the construction of the shrine through the miracle of the fire;
  • Inspired and guided in the preparation of the design for the shrine and all its various intricate details;
  • Secured the approvals and consents of the relevant authorities without much hassle especially building a shrine in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. The approval came as soon as the construction of the Chapel was completed;
  • Supplied all the artisans, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians and other workers from the surrounding areas at a minimal costs;
  • Introduced Dr. Ir. Johannes Tarigan, a lecturer cum engineer to advise in the construction and use his expertise is designing buildings in a earthquake prone area, the church is protected from destruction from earthquakes up to 9 on the Richter Scale;
  • Also introduced a young man, Andreas, a talented student who undertook the entire exterior and interior painting works. He produced such fine paintings that he was dubbed ‘Little Michealangelo of Medan’ by the congregation;
  • Inspired, motivated and guided Fr. James from the time the idea was conceived till the final completion of the building of Graha Maria.

Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni Pilgrimage Center

A pilgrimage is a Christian devotional practice with an ancient tradition and history. The faithful go on pilgrimage by journeying to shrines and sacred places to pray there and draw closer to God. Places of pilgrimage are often marked by God’s special intervention or have a particular importance in the religious history of a people. Shrines dedicated to the veneration of Mary, the Mother of God or to a particular saint are common places of pilgrimage.

Pilgrimages, in all their multiple aspects, have always been a gift of grace. The Graha Maria makes you feel at peace with yourself and with the world surrounding you. Not only Catholics can come and visit, people from all religious backgrounds, nationality, regardless of color and creed can come and seek for spiritual healing here, or whatever it is they are looking.

Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni – You are a Phenomenon in our times and a Home for all people of good will irrespective of race, creed and mother tongue who come to experience peace, harmony and fellowship.

We wish you enjoy your tour of the shrine, feasting your eyes on this “Something Beautiful from God“.

The History of the Tamil Catholic Community

In the late 19th century, some of the French and Dutch plantation companies had brought migrant workers from India (Pondichery and other parts of Tamilnadu) to be employed in their plantations in Deli Serdang area in the outskirts of Medan Town. Among those Indians were several catholic families.

As part of their spiritual care the company had provided a chapel where the catholic families could meet and have their religious services conducted in their mother tongue (Tamil) on Sundays. Occasional visit of some priest from Pondichery to celebrate Holy Mass in Tamil brought them great joy.

At the inception of the Cathedral Church of Medan as place of worship in 1879 at Jl Pemuda No 1 (formerly: Paleisstraat; Istana Street) the majority of Catholics were ethnic Tamil Indians and the Netherlands. The Tamil Indians later built for themselves a Parish at Jalan Hayam Wuruk in Medan Baru area, called as St. Anthony’s Church, annexed to it were housing for Tamil Catholic Indians.

Annai Velangkanni

Annai Velangkanni is from the Tamil language where “Annai” means Mother and “Velangkanni” comes from the name of a village in coastal Tamil Nadu (South India), namely Velankanni (the British colonial masters spelled it as Vailankanni), a village that is believed to be where the Virgin Mary appeared in the 16th century. The Indonesians pronounced “Velankanni” as in “Velangkanni” and hence was adopted as the official spelling of the Shrine to distinguished it from the shrine in Tamil Nadu, India. So in Indonesia Annai Velankanni Arokia Matha (Lady of Good Health) is known as Bunda Velangkanni Bunda Penyembuh Orang Sakit.

Although the devotion to Annai Velangkanni has its origin in the village of Velangkanni, Indonesians are now beginning to called her as the Annai Velangkanni of Tanjung Selamat (the Bay of Salvation).

The Basilica of Annai Velankanni in Tamilnadu (India) is built in the Gothic style and its founding is attributed to the two apparitions of Our Lady in the 16th century and the saving of the Portuguese sailors from a tempest in the Bay of Bengal in the later 17th century.

Why Annai Velangkanni?

The Tamil Catholic community of Medan had a deep devotion and honor for Blessed Mother Mary of Velangkanni, whose shrine is well known all over the world to people of all races and creed for her miraculous help and protection. Irrespective of their religious beliefs, Tamils throng to churches dedicated to our Blessed Mother Mary every where, and in fact among the Tamil people, the Catholic church is always known as ‘Matha Koil” meaning church of Mother Mary.
The idea of a Shrine in honor of Annai Velangkanni which could serve as a pilgrimage center for the population of Medan archdiocese was strongly supported by the then Archbishop of Medan Msgr. Alfred Gonti Pius Datubara OFM Cap. The Archbishop had visited Annai Velangkanni Shrine in Tamilnadu, India and was duly impressed with the devotion of the people and power of the Blessed Mother in that Church.

The Shrine of Annai Velangkanni in India is a national pilgrimage center built some 350 years ago and has been drawing millions of people every year from every walk of life and religious affiliations. It stands as a living proof of devotion to our Blessed Mother Mary. The heavenly Mother through her powerful intercessions is still working miracles by curing the sick, granting the petitions of the devotees and making her Son Jesus known and loved by people thus enkindling faith in the unbelievers and strengthening the faithful, as at Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal.

Marian Shrine of Annai Velangkanni

The magnificent Marian Shrine of Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni is dedicated to the Blessed Mother Mary who is known in India as Annai Velangkanni Arokia Matha (Our Lady of Good Health). Graha means home or sanctuary or shrine in Sanskrit. Built in 2005, it is located on the outskirts of the city of Medan in the North Sumatra province of Indonesia.

Aerial-1Built with an Indonesian touch, the architecture of this shrine is totally different from the norm and the uniqueness of this lofty and imposing structure lies in the originality of its Indo-Mughal architectural blend, in its ornaments and display of colors done by amateur hands and above all in its Biblical content. Several religious symbols adorn the building, but these are in harmony with the structure of the shrine and form a beautiful unity. Aesthetic and religious values blend in to express the loftiness and the great mystery of the divine majesty. If you feel that you would like to go on a pilgrimage, then this Marian Shrine of Annai Velangkanni would be a good choice.

The originator of the Shrine is Father James Barathaputra, SJ. He is a Jesuit priest from India and had served in Indonesia for more than 50 years.

The Architecture Of Annai Maria Velangkanni

The architecture of this shrine is totally different from the norm. A typical church consist of a Christian cross attached to the top of the building. Rarely do you find components of another religion on its architecture. However, that’s what you’d find in the Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni. At a first look it doesn’t look like a church at all!

Indo-Mughal styleWhen you see this shrine from some distance it looks more like a Tibetan style Buddhist temple, due to the presence of both Indian and Chinese characters on the building’s architectural design. The building itself was designed in an Indo-Mughal style. The combinations of brown, grey, and red colors on the building, and its pyramidal pagoda on top, give you the impression of a Buddhist or Hindu monastery somewhere in India. In addition, the two winding staircases (one on the right, and one on the left side of the building) leading you to the second floor, resemble the palaces you can see in the Forbidden City in Beijing, China!

All these religious symbols adorn the building in a harmony with the structure of the shrine and form a beautiful unity. Aesthetic and religious values blend in to express the loftiness and the great mystery of the divine majesty.

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