A major pilgrim centre for Christians, Church of Our Lady of Ransom is one of the oldest European Churches in India built by the Portuguese Missionaries. The church dedicated to the Holy Mary of Vallarpadam popularly known as 'Vallarapadath Amma', is located in the middle of Vallarpadam in Kochi Kerala. One of the three Basilicas in Kochi, the Church is under the diocese of Verapoly (Varappuzha).
In 1676 the old Church, which was known as the Church of the Holy Spirit, founded by the Portuguese mission naries, was destroyed by the heavy flood and the picture of Our Lady was found floating in the backwaters. Nobody except Paliyath Raman Valiyachan, the Prime Minister of Maharaja of Cochin, could recover it. The beautiful church at Vallarpadam which you see now is built on the land which was donated by Paliyath Raman Valiyachan. He is gratefully remembered in Vallarpadathamma and his generosity towards the church, by lighting the Sanctuary lamp, which he himself donated and which has been burning day and night from 1676 onwards. The church was re-established in 1676 and the famous picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected by Portuguese who brought it from their native land. The picture is believed to have miraculous powers
There are many legends associated with this church; the most famous was in 1752, a young Nair Lady named Meenakshiyamma, who was a member of a noble family called Palliyilveedu. Together with her son, she was going to Mattancherry in a non-mechanized boat. There arose a storm and the boat capsized. Meenakshiyamma and her son went deep down into the backwater. While they were in danger Meenakshiyamma promised Vallarpadathamma that if they were rescued by her they would be her Adimas (servants) until their death. On the third day, as per instructions in a dream, the parish priest Fr. Miguel Correa asked the fishermen to cast net in the river, and Meenakshiyamma and her son were rescued. From that day onwards, people, especially those who travel by boats and ships, come to Vallarpadam and pray for their safe journey.
Meenakshiyamma and her son received baptism and became Christians and were named Mary and Jesudas respectively. They were living in the Churchyard itself adoring the Lord and thanking Our Lady and proclaiming the “good news” to all those who came here. Her family is still living, which is quite near to the church
Due to its spiritual importance, His Holiness Pope Leo XIII elevated its main altar to the status of Altare Privilegiatum in Perpetuum Concessum in 1888. A Privileged Altar (Latin: Altare Privilegiatum) is an altar in a Roman Catholic Church where a plenary indulgence is granted whenever Mass is celebrated there.