Sinhala & Tamil Catholics converge at Shrine of Our Lady of Lanka

For the first time, several Tamil youth from the northern part of the country, which has witnessed civil war for more than 25 years, made a pilgrimage to the country's national shrine.

Sri Lanka
Nov 04 2013, 6:23 PM
Sinhala & Tamil Catholics converge at Shrine of Our Lady of Lanka

Around 5,000 young Catholics from different districts of Sri Lanka took part in Youth Day celebrations organised by the National Youth Federation at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lanka, Tewatta, near Colombo, on October 19.

For the first time, several Tamil youth from the northern part of the country, which has witnessed civil war for more than 25 years, made a pilgrimage to the country's national shrine.

"It is a blessing for all of us young people to pray together at the feet of Our Lady of Lanka," said a Tamil youth from northern Sri Lanka.

The Youth Day theme was 'Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations’. The day began with a prayer service in front of the ancient cave that houses the statue of Our Lady. The youths followed this with ??a procession. At the end of the procession, everyone recited the rosary in Tamil and Sinhalese. After the special prayer, Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam of Jaffna blessed them.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Berni Fernando, president of the Katana parish youth group (Diocese of Colombo), and Nisansala Madhushani, from the Diocese of Ratnapura, said they were, "Very happy to have had this great opportunity. It was a real blessing for us [to see] so many young people from the north and the south together for a single purpose. It was a great show of unity."

The Shrine of Our Lady of Lanka is located in Tewatta Basilica. It was commissioned by Jean-Marie Masson, then archbishop of Colombo. In 1940, the bishop made a vow that if the island was spared the horrors of World War II, he would build a church in honour of the Mother of God. In 1946, he obtained Vatican's permission to build it and dedicate it to Our Lady of Lanka.

Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Blessed Mother as protectress of Sri Lanka in 1948. The site's first stone was laid on 4, February 1951. Pope Pius XII blessed the statue of the Virgin Mary, which was brought to the island nation in 1952.

In 1974, all of the country's bishops, led by Cardinal Thomas Cooray, took part in the shrine's Mass of consecration.

Source: AsiaNews

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