Kandhamal (Agenzia Fides) - More than 45,000 people attended the Jubilee celebration of the Marian shrine of Partama, in Orissa, in eastern India on March 5. Archbishop John Barwa, at the head of the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, celebrated Mass, together with Mgr. Sarat Chandra Nayak, Bishop of Berhampur, over 70 priests, 50 religious sisters from different parts of Orissa. They all gathered in Partama, in the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary, in the district of Kandhmal, in Orissa, theater of the anti-Christian massacres of 2008.
"Where there is Mary, there is Jesus and where there is Jesus there is joy, Mary is not only the Mother of God, she is the Mother of all of us who seek her constant intercession, we entrust our suffering to her", said Bishop Barwa. "The 25th anniversary of the Jubilee is an opportunity for us to thank God and to celebrate the providential care of God, expressing deep gratitude to him", said Bishop Nayak in his homily.
The Bishop praised the local faithful "who remained firm in their faith in Christ despite the threats, persecutions and humiliations suffered, during the period of the anti-Christian violence of Kandhamal in 2007-2008. May Mother Mary become our model and example so that we remain always closely connected to the Lord".
James Nayak, Secretary of the parish council, told Fides about the origin of the sanctuary. A Hindu widow went to Mount Partama to collect wood on March 5, 1994. There a beautiful lady told her to ask the Catholic priest to build a church to pray the Rosary for the conversion of sinners. The Hindu woman was riduculed. Then the lady appeared again to a 12-year-old boy who went to the mountain and told him: "I am the Mother of Jesus. Pray the Rosary every day to build the Kingdom of God made of peace, joy, love, justice, truth and fraternity". The local parish priest, Father Alphonse Balliarsingh, built a small cave and placed a statue of the Virgin of the Rosary on the mountain. The faithful began to go on pilgrimage to that place, renamed "Mary of Partama" and entrusted her with the suffering and persecution suffered. That of Partama is today the only Marian shrine of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. (PN) (Agenzia Fides, 6/3/2019)