HISTORY OF THE NIRMALAGIRI MARY MATHA SHRINE
In 1978 on 5th May, while Bishop was traveling from Eluru to
Visakhapatnam, his native diocese for blessing a Church, his car got broke
down exactly in front where the present shrine is situated. After he got out
of the car, he noticed the steep forest hill on which the ascending and
descending of the sheep and the shepherds and the flowing of the small
streams from the hill tops. He was totally attracted to the blossom of the
nature. While he was immersed in the aesthetic atmosphere, he could hear
divine inner voice speaking to him that “Do not be afraid,
I am with you always, I will protect you from all dangers and I want you to
build a shrine dedicated to Blessed Mother Mary through which all should
honor Her here at this place. His immersion into the Divine was disturbed
when his driver said, the car is repaired let us proceed further.
India is very generous to have
many religions and it is tolerant towards all that come from outside. South
India is very famous for its pastures, valleys, mountains and Rivers. It is
comprised of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Nirmalagiri is situated near the village called Gowripatnam.
Nirmalagiri is a steep forest-hill area and is situated on the National
highway of Chennai – Kolkatta facing the River Godavari at 20 k.m.
In the year 1974, on
10th May on this lonely deserted land the first seed of Christianity was
sown by Rev. Fr. Dominic ofm Cap. The year 1976, 9th December, was a very
special year and the day for West and East Godavari Districts. It had the
happy memory of the bifurcation of the diocese from Vijayawada and the
erection of the new diocese of Eluru and the election of Bishop John
Mulagada as its first Bishop. In the year 1977, 5th May Bishop John Mulagada was
consecrated and on 8th of May he took charge of the Diocese as first Bishop.
Edifice Millennium Jubilee Church 2000
Fr. Jose Kaimlett
1 st Director of the Shrine
Fr. Kunnakatt Augustine
Director of the Shrine 1984-1986
Bishop assigned Fr. Jose
Kaimlett, the then Bursar of the Diocese, to Nirmalagiri to design and
construct the shrine and other institutions around. Fr. Jose Kaimlett
masterfully designed the shrine in Indian style bringing the culture of the
nation clubbed with local colour. So the diocese at present is
called the "Temple diocese of Andhra”. In 1984, Fr. Kunnakatt Augustine was
appointed Director of the shrine. In 1987 Nirmalagiri was declared as
an independent parish with Fr. Guzzula Michael as its first parish priest.
During his tenure, he put up steps leading to the hill, stage and hall.
MARY MATHA SHRINE
On April 25th, 1992 Fr. Dirisina Aaron was
appointed the Director of the shrine. In the same year on July 3rd feast
day of St. Thomas the Apostle to India, Bishop John blessed and laid the
foundation stone for the Church. The Church was designed by Bro. K.
Immanuel Ofm. Cap. From 1995 onwards work went on sturdily with rapid
The blessing and consecration of the Church was officiated
by the Most Rev. Lorenzo Baldisseri, Apostolic Nuncio and Rev. Msgr. Bernard
Prince, secretary General of pontifical Mission Aid societies, Rome in the
presence of all the Bishops of Andhra Church and many priests, on 25th
March, 2000 the GREAT JUBILEE YEAR. This day is to be recorded with red –
letters in the history of the shrine.
The whole hill was full of pilgrims as
it was the festival of Nirmalagiri shrine, the Annunciation.
Director of the Shrine
The Relics of St. Aurelius, St. Benegnene and St. Dennis the Martyr were
installed in the Altar and was consecrated by the Most. Rev. Lorenzo
Baldisseri, Apostolic Nuncio to India & Nepal.