Historical Poodi Madha and Adaikala Madha churches (1714 -1742) Tamil Nau

Our Lady of Lourdes Basilica (Poondi Matha Church), Poondi, Tamil Nadu.en.wikipedia.org
    Our Lady of Lourdes Basilica, is a famous Catholic church located in a small village called Poodi that lies between the rivers Cauvery and Colleroon in Thiruvaiyaru taluk of Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu and can be accessed  either via Trichy or Thanjavur -  both these cities are near by. Popularly referred to as Poodi Madha Basilica (in Tamil Madha means mother), it is an important pilgrimage center for Christians and lots of Hindus do visit this historical church for favors from  the Mother.

This is one of a few historical churches in Tamil Nadu built during the British period by aItalian Jesuit Missionary Rev. Fr. Constantine Joseph Beschi S.J. popularly known as 'Veerama Munivar' (in Tamil). Fr. Beschi, realizing the importance of knowing the local language spoken there - Tamil (highly advanced and an ancient language)  for his missionary work, began to learn it, and  at one stage, he developed a passion for it and mastered the language. Amidst his missionary and social works, he did innumerable, valuable literary work in Tamil, including compilation of
Tamil-Latin dictionary. Hence he was known by the Tamil name  'Veerama Munivar.' He adopted the life of a Hindu saint and closely mingled with the natives. He took so much efforts to build a church at Poondi and named it as the church of 'Mary Queen of Immaculate Conception' in the beginning of the eighteenth century (1714-1718). 
Inside the church.Poondi Matha Church, Poondi, Tamil Nadu. www.poondimadhabasilica.org

Car festival in prgress..Poondi Matha Church, Poondi, Tamil Nadu.www.thehindu.com
 The statue of the miraculous Lady of Poondi  placed in this dome  is one among the three statues that were made in France. The legend has it after the arrival of the statues, for several years there was a bright glow of light seen  inside the church at night. But the villagers and the priests were at a loss to find its source. Positively it was a sign of Divine presence and since then  the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes has become popular in this area.

The church architecture is a blend of French and Gothic. The rows of 12 statues of Jesus Christ's disciples and the relic of original cross - it is believed - are still in the Church which underwent major modification after 1955. The old building built by Fr. Beschi could not withstand the vagaries of time and became weak.

This shrine was declared as Minor Basilica by Pope John Paul II - August 03, 1999 and became the fourth basilica in Tamil Nadu.

The Adaikalamadha shrine in Elakurichi near Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu is yet another well known church and is is a sacred pilgrimage center for Roman Catholics. The state government had spent lots on money to improve the infrastructure for the benefit of devotees coming to the church during festival times.
 The Adaikalamadha shrine in Elakurichi near Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu.  www.thehindu.com

Constantine Beschi is believed to have come to Ariyalur region on missionary work  between A.D. 1710 to 1742 and  here at Elakurichi he built this Church on a vast land  of about 60 acres granted by a local rich landlord as a token of his gratitude to Fr. Beschi, who cured him of a dreadful disease by invoking the blessings of the  Holy Mother Mary. An inscription engraved on a stone slab written in A.D. 1763, preserved in this church makes a mention of this grant.