Our Lady of Health, Harihar Shrine has been elevated to the status of Minor Basilica by Vatican through the Papal Decree dated 18 September 2019.  Solemn Proclamation and Inauguration of the Minor Basilica has been fixed to be held on Wednesday, 15 January 2020 at the Basilica premises. There will be solemn thanksgiving mass followed by public reception program.

Harihara town with a population of around 1.5 lakhs geographically located in the centre of Karnataka. The town is situated on the banks of the Thungabhadra River, 275 kilometers north of Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka state. It is 14 kms away from Davanagere. It is well connected by road and railway and is located on National Higway 4 (Pune – Bengaluru). It has a very pleasant climate throughout the year.

Harihara Town - Centre of Religious Harmony:

Harihara is a syncretic deity in Hinduism, combining the two major gods Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara). Images of Harihara. There is a famous temple built in the 12th century during Hoysala's time called Harihareshwara temple from which the city gets its name – which is also known as "Dakshina Kashi". The god Harihareshwara is a combination of the gods Shiva and Vishnu. As Harihara is geographically located in the center of Karnataka, it was proposed to be made the capital of the state, but Bangalore was chosen instead. It is known for religious harmony where the people of different faiths live in peace and harmony.






Historical Background:
There is a popular legend from time immemorial that a poor brahmin, while taking a holy dip, accidentally fell into the swelling river Tungabhadra. Being on the verge of drowning and in great fear of death, he saw the floating statue of Our Lady of Health and caught hold of it, and that eventually saved his life. Thereafter on reaching home, his wife and children, on touching the statue of Our Lady of Health, were miraculously and providentially healed of their diseases-tuberculosis and paralysis respectively.

From then onwards he dedicated himself completely to the service of Our Lady and his house to the glory of the Mother. Soon after his death, he was laid to rest in a place where his house existed where the tomb still exists. Later on that same house was converted into a church, which is situated on the banks of the River Tungabhadra. The miraculous statue was installed there.
Harihara which belonged to Chitrdurga division was comig under Mysore Mission.  It is reported that around 1833 to 1838, Fr. Bigot Beauclair a MEP missionary paid a visit to Harihara, where he witnessed the pilgrimage of the people to that place where the statue of the Blessed Virgin was very much in veneration. There he heard the above stated legend. He built a church in the same place. In the beginning of 1847 itself, the celebration of devotion to Harihara Mathe or Sathyamma (mother of truth) as she was popularly known, was much in vogue as scores of people thronged to this Shrine in this small town. People used to pray fervently. Gradually September 8 was chosen to celebrate her Annual Feast that being her Nativity. This has been going on without any interruption since then. In the initial ceremonies it was the practice that the image that saved the life of the Brahmin was taken in procession in prominent streets of the town. Now every year, for the annual feast a chariot decorated with flowers with the Statue in it is taken in procession. A new church is built in the same place now which will be inaugurated and dedicated on 14 January 2020

To meet the needs of growing number of Christians and pilgrims who throng to the shrine irrespective of caste and creed from all over Karnataka and a few parts of India, a Church was built in a new spacious location in 1977 by Fr Lazarus D’Souza, the then Parish Priest of Davanagere dedicating the same to Our Lady of Health. In 1992 Fr Jesu R. Nathan built the present church in an unique pagoda style.

The Shrine has been called as the ‘Vailankanni of Karnataka. Several miracles are occurring here. The shrine has been frequented by the people irrespective of caste, language and religion. Thousands of pilgrims come to this shrine during festivities in August – September in particular and throughout the year in general. The annual feast of the Shrine is on 8 september, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On 27 May 2012, the Shrine was officially declared as the Diocesan Shrine.

Elevation to Minor Basilica:

After careful consideration and proper scrutiny, the Vatican has raised the Shrine of Our Lady of Health, Harihar to the status of a Minor Basilica on 18 September 2019.  This is the third shrine in Karnataka to have received the status of Minor Basilica after St. Mary's Minor Basilica in the Archdiocese of Bangalore and St. Lawrence Minor Basilica in the Diocese of Udupi. The official celebration of this milestone will be held on 15 January 2020

Rev. Fr Veeresh Vincent Moras
PRO Diocese of Shimoga

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