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Thousands of faithful at the feast of Our Lady of Gunadala

VIJAYAWADA, Feb 11, 2017–This year our Lady, the Mother of health, gathered at his feet thousands of faithful for the three-day festival in Gunadala, from 9 to 11 February. Two days ago, under a colorful pavilion, hundreds of people have been raised very early to attend the first Mass of the day.

Msgr. Telagathoti Raja Rao, the Bishop of Vijayawada, greeted the pilgrims and blessed them, then together with the priests went to the altar to light the lamps of the party.

The bishop explained the origins of this festival, linked to the apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Lourdes, which created the world in a new devotion, linked to great healing and anointing of the sick.

Resplendent in an atmosphere of sacred music and songs, it was also celebrated the silver jubilee and golden priests we have served the Church in Andhra Pradesh for so many years.

The director of the new Catholic TV channel Divya Vani, p. Udumala Showry Bala Reddy, has proclaimed his homily, thanking Our Lady of Health for helping him in his 25 years of priesthood.

The Gunadala festival was started in Vijayawada by PIME missionaries in 1923 and now, after more than 90 years has become an important festival for Catholics, although often welcomes Muslims and Hindu pilgrims.

Speaking at a press conference, Msgr. Telagathoti Raja Rao, said the sanctuary of Gunadala Matha (Mother of Gunadala) in the new capital of Andhra Praesh [previous, Hyderabad, has become the capital of the new state of Telangana – ed], needs new developments because It has become a destination for pilgrims not only these days, but for the whole year. There is need for infrastructure to accommodate pellegini who come from far and proposals for those seeking spiritual solace and blessings.

To this end, the bishop wants to be a group of priests who visit and learn from other Marian shrines in the world – such as Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, Czestochowa – to study the reception capacities of the faithful and the expressions of Marian devotion, to adapt the Vijayawada to world standards. In the city it is also waiting a Vatican delegation to study the sanctuary.

Today’s feast was preceded by a novena starting on 31 January. The faithful with lighted candles rose, in procession with the Blessed Sacrament, on the hill of the sanctuary where there is a statue of Mary, praying the rosary and singing hymns.

The new director of the sanctuary, p. Eleti Jaya Rao, said that this year it is expected the arrival of at least 1.5 million pilgrims, thanks to new accommodation facilities and the atmosphere of prayer that you breathe. In Andhra Pradesh, in the Krishna Unit there are about 300 thousand Catholics served by 200 priests in 1600 churches. In addition, there are hundreds of schools, charitable services for the poor and needy.

In this period the government has made it easier to transport with special bus from the train station to Gunadala. Although the railways have allowed links to the trains Gunadala for all pilgrims. (AsiaNews)