All around the year, but especially during the Lenten period of 7 weeks preceding Easter., Christians in South India make a pilgrimage to a hilltop at Malayattoor in Kerala carrying crosses and chanting in praise of the Lord. Though historians contradict, Christians believe that St. Thomas the Apostle stayed and prayed at the hilltop in Malayattoor. While travelling from the ancient Indian port city of Kodungalloor to Chennai, St Thomas had a short stay at Malayattoor and due to the hostility of the local population was forced to take refuge at the hilltop. St. Thomas is believed to have prayed to the Lord making a sign of the cross on the rock. The local legend regales, a miraculous golden cross appeared at the spot, where he marked the cross. The hill top is now known as Kurishumudi and is a sacred place of worship for Christians.
There won’t be any devout Christian in Kerala, who never had climbed Kurishumudi to seek the blessings of the Lord. It is not just Christians but people from all faiths consider Malayatoor Kurishumudi as a holy shrine of God. Melbourne Malayalees continue that practise at a hilltop in Bacchus Marsh, which they call as the Malayattoor of Melbourne. Climbing Bacchus Marsh hilltop could be regarded as cakewalk compared to the tediousness of climbing Malayattoor Kurishumudi, but it serves the symbolism. Our Lady Ta Pinu Shrine (Madonna) – All Nations Marian Centre in Bacchus Marsh has erected 14 crosses on the way of the Cross to the hilltop reminding the path that Jesus walked to his crucifixion and each station adorned with statues depicting his journey. The Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu, is an offshoot of Christianity originated on Gozo, the sister island of Malta.
The Maltese diaspora has spread the Ta Pinu (Virgin Mary) worship to wherever they have migrated and settled. The first foreign country that received an Icon of Ta’ Pinu was Tunisia. In 1957, the statue of Ta Pinu in Tunisia was removed from Tunisia and was brought to a Church in Kensington, Melbourne. The devotees decided to build a church here in Australia dedicated to Our Lady Ta’ Pinu. They began looking for a suitable place for such a devotion and after consultations, the Hill overlooking the Western Highway in Bacchus Marsh was selected. The majestic concrete Cross overlooking the Western Freeway was erected, marking the site of the proposed church and was blessed by His Lordship Dr. Francis Thomas Little, Archbishop of Melbourne on Saturday, 24th February 1996.
Today there are many shines of Virgin Mary from many ethnic groups like; Maltese, Indonesian, Indian, Italian, Sri Lankan, Pilipino, Hispanic, Portuguese, Slovenian, Vietnamese, Australian and Polish. Maltese Community Church was the first of many shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin under various titles. Our Lady of Grace (Italian: Santa Maria della Grazie) by the Italian ethnic group was built on 2005. The Indian ethnic group built the Velankanni Mata Chapel in 2006. The devotions of the Filipino community to Our Lady of Perpetual Help inspired the construction of the chapel dedicated to The Mother and child at the All Nations Marian Centre. With the initiative of some devotees, a replica statue of Our Lady of Lanka was brought from Sri Lanka and placed within the premises and the chapel was completed in 2007. Oratory dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe by the Catholic Spanish Speaking Community in Melbourne was also completed in 2007.
The stations on the way of the cross are as follows
Station 1: Jesus institutes the Holy Eucharist and priesthood
Station 2: Jesus prays to his Father and his sweat becomes like drops of blood
Station 3: Judas betrays Jesus
Station 4: Pilate condemns Jesus to death on the Cross
Station 5: Jesus meets his afflicted Mother Mary
Station 6: Jesus falls under the weight of the Cross
Station 7: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Station 8: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross
Station 9: Jesus stripped of his clothes
Station 10: nailed to the Cross
Station 11: Jesus dies on the Cross
Station 12: The body of Jesus is taken down from the Cross
Station 13: Jesus is laid in the tomb
Station 14: The Resurrection of Jesus
Address of All Nations Marian Church: 53, Flanagans dr, Merrimu, VIC -3340
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