Ever Reign, Mother of Happy Voyage
The heavy drizzle or rain, and the scorching heat of the sun, do not prevent the fervent devotee of Our Lady of Bandel from climbing, often on his/her knees, Mother of Happy Voyage is venerated by thousands of people from all walks of life. To the ardent devotee and the casual visitor, there is something special in this place. The compassionate Mother is there for everyone, to heal the broken hearted, to answer prayers all sorts, to her blessings and graces, to lead all children in her gentle ways. Four hundred years ago, the weary travellers on the high seas, looked to this star for guidance, safety and rest from their uncertain and perilous journeys. Thus began the devotion to Our Lady of Happy Voyage.
The flourishing Christian community built around the church of Our Lady was a force to reckon with. But after the siege of Hooghly at the hands of the Muslim armies, Bandel and the Christian settlements were never the same. The Augustinian friars from Portugal, who established the monastery and through their untiring zeal and devotion kept the flame of faith alive in the hearts of people were the heroes of this place which celebrates four hundred years of its church. It is a wonder, how the church stood the test of times. This is a glorious moment in its historical progress towards newer and brighter horizons. The church of Bandel was raised to the status of Basilica in the year 1988, as a sign of the special significance it has had in the lives of so many people who have hungered for God and the divine.
We in Bandel feel proud to be part of this moment, to be part of the history, much of which has been silent and forgotten. We feel part of the special plan of God, who through the maternal presence of Mary, draws and leads so many of her children to their loving Father. The fourth centenary celebrations highlight the religious, historical, social and cultural contribution of the Basilica over the four hundred years of its history. The recent renovations and beautification of the Basilica and its surroundings have made it more attractive and worthy of the great occasion of the fourth centenary. Bandel Basilica is becoming more and more a centre of devotion and pilgrimages. The quietness and serenity of the church on the banks of the river Hooghly attracts people of all faiths.
The fourth centenary of the Basilica is a fitting preparation for the great Jubilee of the year 2000, which celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. A new millenium, a new life, a new beginning! In all this Mary has a definite part to play as she had at the birth of Jesus. History is made up of the personal and unique contribution of each and every person and posterity will judge us in the measure in which we decide to make our contribution to the making of history. This souvenir is a humble tribute to the Mother of Happy Voyage to mark the fourth centenary of her maternal presence in Bandel from where she has blessed countless souls. This is a small effort to praise and thank her for her manifold blessings. The various features of this souvenir are to highlight the historical significance of the occasion, to arouse faith and devotion, to edify and to share the hope of all who are in one way or other part of the fourth centenary celebrations of Bandel Basilica. Through this souvenir we hope to spread her name far and wide even as she continues to reign in Bandel as the Mother of Happy Voyage.
Fr. Thomas Pulickal, SDB