Sacred Heart Grotto

The first Tamil-speaking priest Rev. Fr. Costantine Thairianathar became the Parish Priest in 1911. When the newly appointed Priest started taking over the receipts and payments accounts, Some of the villagers objected to it. Internal turbulence of Alanthalai touched the nadir when the dual leadership (same person holding the post of President of the village & the Rosary sabha) and the re-election of President for the second term in the Rosary Sabha were forcefully inducted with the connivance of the Priest. This made the reigning Priest to charge sheet 18 villagers in Sathankulam Court in 1914. Again, Fr.Bosco forced to lodge complaint against 10 others in Tiruchendur Court in 1918.

Due to this Some of the families embraced C.S.I and migrated to the shores of Tiruchendur. At this volatile juncture (1920) came the first Latin rite Swadesi Parish Priest Rev.Fr.Ambrose Missier, a man with patience and philanthropic disposition He inculcated the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the installation of His holy picture. A sea change took place and many of the strayed sheep started coming back to the fold. This miracle was the foundation for the carving of the Holy Grotto.

Fr.Missier's efforts as a peace maker and the Counseling Mission by the layman Mr.Mascranhas were not fruitful in spite of withdrawing certain charges in the courts. In the meanwhile, Tuticorin was elevated to the status of Diocese in 1923 and the first Latin rite Bishop Msqr. G.F.T.Roche S.J. was installed. When the Bishop passed through in the tram way to Manapad, he was given a warm welcome by the villagers except a few standing little away from the station. Seeing the converts His Lordship said "I also pray for my brothers who are standing away from here so that the blessings of Almighty God may continue to increase on them also". This sincere prayer in appeal melted the hearts of those few and peace returned on 3.12.1924.

As a recognition of peace, it was planned to build a grotto depicting the scene "Jesus Christ appearing to St.Margaret Magdalene in the garden of Parlamonial Convent". The great artist of Manapad was asked to paint this scene and the great sculptor from Idaikattur Mr. Manuel Pillai was invited to carve the Grotto. Just as the Holy Mother Church built on a rock, this Grotto is built over the unused well adjacent to the Ss.Peter & Paul Church .The foundation stone was laid on 31.10.1926, the feast of Christ the King by Fr.Missier. The great Sculptor Mr.Pillai carved out the Golden Grotto with natural grandeur and Mr. Manuel de Mel added luster by artistic talents. On 30th June, 1928 his Excellency Bishop G.F.T.Roche blessed and inaugurated the Grotto.

While addressing the gathering he said, "Although this is a symbol of peace. I say this is a Pillar of Boons and Graces" Yes.this is the Miraculous Golden Grotto. On this grotto stands the King of Kings, the King of peace with open heart and outstretched hands to embrace the millions who honour Him. This Grotto is a place of solace to the grief stricken, a treat to lovers of art, a throne of blessing to childless couples to be blessed with off springs, a comfort house for the afflicted, a refuge for sinners and broken hearted, a paradise for the devotees.