Gunadala Mary Matha Church is one of the most popular churches and pilgrim places for Christians in Andhra Pradesh, A shrine for the Christians situated in Gunadala, a hilly region of district Krishna at Vijayawada is the Mary Matha Shrine or Gunadala Matha Shrine and its more popular name, St Mary's Church. It has the rare distinction of having an iron cross set up on the hill top. It houses a museum having a collection of ancient holy relics and precious gifts of the followers. The shrine is filled on Sundays and other important festivals and occasions. The annual feast for Our Lady of Lourdes is celebrated with devotion and gaiety.its a famous pilgrimage place where people take the help of Mother Mary's prayers and lakhs of people come from all over places to worship, every February 9,10&11 more than 5 lakh people come to visit at the hill top.there r only steps way to go up the hill,and on the top there is a huge Jesus crucified statue
Why and when Established:
Mother Mary is said to have appeared on this hill as on 11th Feb.1858.In 1925, Rf. Arlati, the Rector of St. Joseph's Orphanage at Gunadala, installed a statue of Our Lady and later a church was built and consecrated in 1971, now popularly known as St. Mary's church. Since then the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became an annual event here, attended by hundreds of people. The church is situated on a hillock on the eastern side of the city. Every year an annual feast is observed to celebrate this event with much fanfare. An iron cross, erected at the top of the hill stands as a rare distinction of the shrine.Annual Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ Mother Mary attracts many devotees and is celebrated with much enthusiasm and devotion. Many believers throng to this place during Sundays and important occasions.A museum inside the church is another attraction, with collection of valuable gifts from devotees and holy relics of ancient period.The rush of devotees at Gunadala Matha shrine picked up from the early hours of the second day of the three-day ‘Gunadala Matha Festival’ on Feb 9,10,11. Pilgrims arriving from far off places by buses and trains began reaching the campus of Bishop Grassi High School from the early hours and the rush continues till late in the night.The roads leading to Gunadala throbbed with much activity, while the shrine as well as the hillock witnessed huge crowds.After getting their heads tonsured and breaking coconuts at the shrine, the devotees lined up to the grotto on the hillock to light candles.Special prayers were conducted at the makeshift dais on the playground of the high school, where people in large numbers attended. Pastors of different churches from various parts of the State participated in the prayers. Religion-based cultural programs were performed for the public. The devotees had to move only in one direction on the way to the grotto, with the steps en route having been barricaded completely. Many couples brought their infants to the grotto and offered prayers.Outside the shrine, roads teemed with the crowds even as pretty vendors tried to find space to move from one end to the other to make some quick business. As the police imposed restrictions on the setting up of stalls on the road margins, vendors turned mobile.
• Programs or Events on Mary Matha Feast:
Makeshift photo studios, a special attraction of the festival every year, did brisk business on the second day. For just Rs.20, one could get photographed ‘along with’ their favourite film stars or ‘riding’ a latest model car, courtesy the lively cut-outs as backdrop. As the healing prayers also takes place along with the valedictory of the three-day festival, the shrine authorities and the police are expects huge rush from previous day of midnight on wards and have accordingly makes arrangement. Bishop of Vijayawada diocese will inaugurate the three day GunadalaMatha Fast at Gunadala shrine on February 9. During the three days on the sprawling Bishop Grassi High School grounds, while special prayers will be offered at the grotto at top of the hillock.
• Gunadala Matha Festival:
Gunadala Matha Festival was Celebrated every year in the month of February 9th to 11th, more than 10 Lakh devotees attend this festival and everything goes well without any problem. Officially says 60% were Catholics and Christians used to participate in the Feast and along with them remaining people from different religions Hindus and Muslims.The people from other states of the country and some foreigners also used to visit the church at the time feast and in normal days.
Festival starts with Holy mass on 9th Feb at 6.30 AM and around 8.30 AM Adoration Starts and ends on 11th Feb late night. Many Religious ( Sisters or nuns, Priests, Deacons, Brothers, Seminary & Convent students), General devotees from Vijayawada and other parts of AP, out of A.p also takes part in this Adoration along with Jesus Youth of Vijayawada Diocese.
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