St Lawrence Shrine in South India elevated to Minor Basilica

2016-08-01 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) St Lawrence Shrine at Attur, Karkala, the Diocese of Udupi, has been elevated to the status of a minor basilica on Monday, August, 1, 2016, making it the second Minor Basilica in the Southern Indian state of Karnataka and the 22nd Basilica in the country.

The sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, of the Vatican, declared the famous South Indian shrine of St. Lawrence, a minor Basilica, in the month of May this year.

The solemn Eucharistic Celebration on Monday, was presided over by the Bombay Archbishop, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who is the President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) and the Federation of the Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC).

Archbishop Bernard Moras in his homily said that this was a historical event and expressed gratitude to God for making St Lawrence Shrine a Minor Basilica. "This event will be written in the golden annals of the history of the diocese of Udupi," he said.

Explaining the significance of a Minor Basilica, he said, "Basilica means a beautiful and royal house. In Christianity, the term basilica was used by early Christians who celebrated the holy Mass in the royal house of the kings. There are 1,742 Minor Basilicas in the world, out of which 21 are in India. This is the 22nd Minor Basilica in the country and the 2nd in the state after St Mary's Basilica in Bengaluru.

Baselios Cardinal Cleemis presided over the public function that followed. Among the prominent Church dignitaries present, were Telephore Cardinal Toppo and Mar George Cardinal Alencherry. Arcbishop of the Bangalore Archdiocese, Dr. Bernard Moras, Dr Aloysius P D'Souza, Bishop of Mangaluru, Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo, Bishop of Udupi, the host diocese, and more than 25 archbishops and bishops from various parts of the country were present on the solemn occasion.

The Shrine has always been proud of its popularity among people of various Faiths, who have frequented the shrine with a belief that their prayers will be answered, attributing the many miracles to St. Lawrence which they have received as favours through his intercession.  

The presence of the local political leaders was ample evidence to the interreligious harmony. A minister in the state, Pramod Madhwaraj, in his address said, "It is a joyful day for the district of Udupi and for the state of Karnataka. St Lawrence Minor Basilica is not only for Catholics but for all. When miracles take place, people will come in huge numbers. When they get peace, blessings, and prayers are answered, they visit the holy place. I had also prayed here and my intention was answered. As Jesus Christ said what we do to the least is the real service of God. It is a proud moment for me as the minister of this district."

Bishop Gerald Isaac Lobo, of the Diocese of Udupi welcomed the gathering and in keeping with the Papal encyclical, Laudato si, all guest were presented various saplings as a sign of welcome, which were to be planted on the premises of the Minor Basilica.

Baselios Cardinal Cleemis unveiled the marble Plaque of the Basilica. “This Minor Basilica will attract thousands and thousands of devotees to this place of miracles in the coming days," he said.

Unfurling the papal flag Mar George Cardinal Alencherry said "St Lawrence is martyr for the poor. That is why we witness the large number of devotees. May this place become a national sanctuary very soon.”

While Archbishop Bernard Moras read out the message by the Pope Francis, Bishop Aloysius D'Souza read out the message by the Apostolic Nuncio in India, Salvatore Pennacchio. Bishop D’Souza handed over the Chalice to the rector of the Minor Basilica, Fr George D'Souza, which was presented by the Nuncio.

Oswald Cardinal Gracias  in his address, once again reminded that "During the year of Mercy, the Pope had given the call that the church belonged to the poor."

(Source: Daijiworld)

(from Vatican Radio)