In religion and spirituality, a pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance. Sometimes, it is a journey to a shrine of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith. Pilgrimages are known in all religions. They are an expression of a person who searches for God in places where He has revealed Himself in a special way; where He has offered persons the possibility to feel His presence more easily. This is why there are places of pilgrimage which attract people. The word “pilgrim” comes from the Latin “peregrinus,” meaning “foreigner” or “stranger.
The idea of a pilgrimage has been traced back by some to the primitive notion of local deities, that is, that the divine beings who controlled the movements of men and nature could exercise that control only over certain definite forces or within set boundaries. Thus the river gods had no power over those who kept away from the river, nor could the wind deities exercise any influence over those who lived in deserts or clearings or on the bare mountain-side. Similarly there were gods of the hills and gods of the plains who could only work out their designs, could only favour or destroy men within their own locality (1 Kings 20:23). Hence, when some man belonging to a mountain tribe found himself in the plain and was in need of divine help, he made a pilgrimage back again to the hills to petition it from his gods. It is therefore the broken tribesmen who originate pilgrimages.
Our Lady of Snows Kallikulam offer several places for pilgrimage. They are…
OUR LADY OF SNOWS CHURCH
This century old church is the centre of pilgrim attraction. Here, one can feel the presence of Our Lady with a great intensity. Every day morning two masses and evening Eucharistic Adoration is conducted here. During day time prayer services are conducted. A ten days annual feast is celebrated between 27th July to 5th August. During feast, special liturgy services are conducted.
THE APPARITION SITE
At this place the joyful and the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary are prayed and one remains in silence. One should consecrate oneself to her, that is, consciously accept her as a Mother, because it is at this particular place that she showed herself to humankind. Here, one should open oneself to her blessing.
CROSS STATION – OUR LADY OF SORROWS
In the course of time, another place for silent prayer has evolved, where many individuals and smaller groups also spend time in personal prayer. This cross station located on the top of the apparition Hill. In this place, as in all other places of prayer, one should spend time in prayer, in silence and remain in an atmosphere of prayer.
OUR LADY OF SNOWS GROTTO
This is located at the back side of the apparition hill. Through one young girl’s dream, Mary wished to construct a Grotto at this place. On 2008 this Grotto was constructed and dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima. This is meant for silent meditation.
One should spend great amount of time for prayer in Cross Stations. Here, the Way of the Cross is prayed, consisting of 14 Stations. The first Station (from where the visionaries saw Our Lady) shows the Garden of Gethsemane and the last, the Resurrection. One should pray in front of each Station and reflect about Jesus and those around Him. When climbing Apparition Hill it is particularly important to pray in silence in front of the cross in order to consciously unite with Mary. Especially here, one should pray for spiritual and mental healing.
The Five First Saturdays Devotion
During her July apparition at Fatima, Our Lady said to Lucia, “I shall come to ask… that on the First Saturday of every month, Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins of the world.”
Our Lady then spoke: “See, my daughter, my Heart encircled by thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Do you, at least, strive to console me. Tell them that I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation all those who, in order to make reparation to me, on the First Saturday of five successive months, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour, meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.”
Thus the Five First Saturdays Devotion started. Kallikulam shrine provides the opportunity to pilgrim to be with Our Lady on First Saturdays and receive her blessings. First Saturday of the each month pilgrims throng to Kallikulam to seek Our Lady’s blessings.
The Kallikulam pilgrim, in addition to having an opportunity of being at the places where God has come closer to man through the apparition of Mary, can also meet the person who got the vision of Our Lady. He is an important witness and a great help on our way to encountering God. Therefore, his testimony is of great importance.
It is a fact that many pilgrims who come to Kallikulam testify to have felt the presence of Our Lady with a great intensity. Although it is not easy to assert objectively, one must still emphasize that this also constitutes an important factor of Kallikulam pilgrimages. Here, one can also include the spiritual, mental and physical healings. Those who have experienced such healings, by their testimony awaken the faith and the curiosity and inspire people to leave their everyday life and tasks and to go to the people and places, which, through the intervention of God, have become the goal of many pilgrims.