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Santhome Cathedral Basilica declared "National Shrine"

Written by: Staff

Chennai, Mar 17 (UNI) The century-old Santhome Cathedral Basilica, the magificient Gothic structure at Santhome off world famous Marina, has been declared as the ''National Shrine'' by the Catholic Bishop Conference.

The Basilica, only the third church in the world to be built over the tombs of the apostles of Jesus Christ, has been accorded the status, considering the fact that it draws large number of pilgrims.

Talking to newspersons here last evening, Ref A M Chinnappa, Archibshop of the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore, said after the diocese made a formal request in January, the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of India had agreed to give the recognition to the church.

''The conference at its 25th plenary assembly held at St Peter's Pontifical Institute, Bangalore on February 11, had examined the petition from the Archbishop, and after considering the reasons mentioned, unanimously accepted the request,'' Rev Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Agra and President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, said in his letter.

Rev Chinnappa said the Santhome Cathedral is probably the only shrine in the country to secure the status, as he was not sure whether the famous Velakanni Shrine at Nagapattinam had been conferred with the status.

The National Shrine status has taken the Basilica one step closer to getting ''International Shrine'' status to the Church, which had attracted devotees not only from India, but from various other parts of the world, Rev Chinnappa said.

The Church had already applied for International Shrine status with the Vatican, he said, adding ''we are in the process of sending necessary files and hope to get the status in a couple of months.'' UNI WS KVV SI BST1527

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