The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Chetpet, Vellore Diocese, Tiruvannamalai District is an embodiment love from the Almighty God towards several lakh devotees of Mother Mary. Rev. Fr. Francis Jean Darras, the undeterred and determined missionary from France, belonging to the congregation of Foreign Missionaries of Paris baptized nearly 3000 people in the year 1876 laying the spiritual foundation for this church. Fr. Darras painstakingly constructed this strikingly beautiful church with the twin towers soaring to the skies. The church was consecrated and dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes in the year 1895.
Despite insurmountable pressure with intimidation and even grave threat for his life, Fr. Darras knelt before the Lord, especially before the Mother Mary for mustering strength and support, and he overcame all hardships. Being the spiritual veteran, Fr. Darras played a pivotal role in spearheading several beneficial activities.
The Hill Shrine
Fr. Darras, after having been acquainted with cultural context as to how Indians consider taking pilgrimages, he envisioned that several million devotees of Our Lady of Lourdes also undertake pilgrimage. He spotted a Hill just 3 kms away from the Shrine. He left no stone unturned, by facing harsh resistance from the locals, to construct a small chapel on this hill. In 1880, the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was carried in procession, on foot and thus the hill was christened as ‘Madha Hill’, ‘Hill of Mother Mary’, which was once upon called Satan / Devil’s Hill. This unprecedented spiritual procession became historical as a lakh of people participated in it.
Since 1880, several tens of thousands of devotees pay visits to Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine and participate in the procession to the “Madha Hill”, every year.