Built in 1524 by the Portuguese Missionaries, the Vallarpadam church is dedicated to the Holy Spirit. The venerable image of St. Mary and Infant Jesus here, was originally installed at the top of the main altar, before the vallarpadam church was destroyed in the heavy floods of 1676. Paliyath Raman Menon, the Dewan of the Maharaja of Cochin, retrieved the image of Holy Mary and infant Jesus from the flood waters. A beautiful vallarpadam church then came up in the land donated by the Dewan. The â€˜Kedavilakkuâ€™ or sanctuary lamp, gifted by the Dewan, still burns in the altar, catching the eye of the curious visitor.
The first noted miracle of Vallarpadam church happened in 1752, when Meenakshiamma, a noble nair lady of Cochin and her son met with a boat accident in the backwaters near the church. She prayed to our lady fervently. For three days and nights the mother and son remained safe underwater â€“ which she testified later, when people pulled them out. In gratitude, all the members of that palliveetil nair family vowed to remain loyal servants of Our Lady forever.
Fisherfolk who form the bulk of the native community here, firmly believe in the protection of Our Lady of Vallarpadam. They never venture out to sea without getting their nets and vessels blessed here. Vallarpadam church rests in the picturesque backdrop offered by the enchanting backwaters of the Kochi coastline. Flanked by the life line Goshree bridges, with beautiful ferry boats holding court to the setting sun, the Church is a joined in the crown of the Queen of Arabian sea.
This spiritual practice of â€˜Adimaâ€™, submitting oneself to the protection of Our Lady of Vallarpadam was thus established and continues to date. In exaltation of the Queen of Heaven, Pope Leo XIII elevated the main altar of Vallarpadam Church to the status of Altare previlegiatum in Perpetuum Concessum in 1888. The Govt. of India declared Vallarpadam Church as a major pilgrim centre of India in 1951. The Govt. of Kerala declared Vallarpadam Church as a tourist centre in 2002.
The Vallarpadam Church was declared a National shrine in September 2004 by the Catholic Bishopâ€™s Conference of India. On December 1, 2004 His Holiness Pope John Paul II elevated the Shrine to the status of â€ Basilicaâ€.