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Saint Joseph Vaz - Sri Lanka’s First Saint Hearing of the distressful situation of the Catholics of Ceylon who REPORTEDLY had no priests for many years,  Vaz desired to go to their rescue. But instead he was named Superior of the Canara Mission, a post which he  occupied for three years. In 1686, Vaz obtained permission to give up this office and to proceed to Ceylon. He  stopped in the Keladi Kingdom in 1686–1687 for a few months on his way to Ceylon, where helped by his  companions, he attended to the spiritual needs of the local Christians. Disguised as a mendicant, he reached the  port of Tuticorin on Easter Sunday 1687.  On landing at Jaffna, Vaz found a strong Calvinist presence. As Catholic priests were banned by the Dutch  authorities, he had to travel under the guise of a mendicant and to work in secret. He travelled barefoot as an Indian  sanyasi. Vaz suffered from acute dysentery, contracted from the terrible travelling conditions. Upon recovering, he began  contacting Catholics and hiding from the Dutch. He was taken in and ministered to his secret flock by night. In 1689,  taking up his residence in a village called Sillalai where the Catholics were numerous and resolute, Vaz succeeded  in reviving the spirit of the faithful. In 1690, he was forced to change his quarters for Puttalam, where he worked  with great success for a whole year. Portuguese or Portuguese creole was the common language of the local  Catholic communities those days -as it was the case till recently among Burghers- so COMMUNICATION was not a  problem for padre José Vaz.  In 1692, Vaz settled in Kandy, the capital of the independent Kingdom of Kandy, as his centre of operations. On his  arrival, he was deemed to be a Portuguese spy and was imprisoned with two other Catholics. There he learned  Sinhala, the local language. They were left alone by the prison guards as long as they didn't try to escape and he  built a hut-church and later a proper church dedicated to Our Lady, and began converting other prisoners.  Making the most of his new-found freedom, Vaz made a mission visit to the Dutch-controlled areas and visited  Catholics in Colombo. Three missionaries from the Oratory of Goa arrived in 1697 to help him, with the news that  Pedro Pacheco, Bishop of Cochin, had appointed Vaz as Vicar General in Ceylon. He was organising the basic  mission structure when smallpox broke out in Kandy. His work with the sick convinced the king to allow Vaz freedom  in his labours. Vaz carried his mission to the main centres of the island. Between 1687 to 1711, he was at the head of a group of  Goan Bamonn priests who under his leadership and inspiration, mixed and moved about under cover sustaining the persecuted Roman Catholic population in Ceylon. Vaz returned to Kandy in 1699 with a fellow priest, Joseph de Carvalho, who had been expelled at the instigation of  Buddhist monks. He completed the construction of his new church, and went into service for the king, translating  Portuguese books into Sinhala. From this vantage point, Vaz intensified his ministry, and converted some Sinhalese  notables. New missionaries arrived in 1705, which enabled him to organise the mission into eight districts, each led by a priest. He worked on the creation of Catholic literature comparable to that of the Buddhists, and to affirm the  rights of Catholics with those of the Dutch Calvinist Government. Vaz humbly declined the offer made to him in  1705, to be the bishop and first Vicar Apostolic of Ceylon, preferring to remain a simple missionary. For this reason,  he is often depicted with a mitre beside him. Pope canonises Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans have crowded the Colombo seafront as Pope Francis canonised the island's  first saint in one of the biggest public gatherings the city has ever witnessed.  On Wednesday, Francis conducted a mass on Colombo's Galle Face Green before canonising Joseph Vaz, a 17th  century missionary who disguised himself as a beggar, in the first papal visit to the island nation in two decades. It is the highest-profile celebration at the landmark site since former President Mahinda Rajapaksa led a victory  parade in 2009 after the end of the country's brutal decades long civil war with Tamil rebels.  The pope, who has focused on post-war reconciliation during his visit, said Vaz had shown "the importance of  transcending religious divisions in the service of peace", ministering to those in need regardless of their creed. Sri Lanka is a mainly Buddhist country but has significant Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities, and has  witnessed a rise in religious violence in recent years. "Religious freedom is a fundamental human right. Each individual must be free, alone or in association with others,  to seek the truth, and to openly express his or her religious convictions, free from intimidation and external  compulsion," said the pope. Vaz is credited with reviving the Catholic church on the island at a time of religious persecution by Dutch colonisers,  giving him a contemporary significance for Sri Lankans.  PLACES OF CATHOLIC RELIGIOUS INTERESTS Colombo. - St. Antony’s Church,  Kochikade In Sri Lanka St. Anthony has many devotees and several Churches have been erected in his honor. Perhaps the  most popular one that daily attracts people of every cast, creed or race is the one at Kochchikade, in the heart of  the city of Colombo.  One has only to visit this church on any Tuesday of the year, to see the thousands from North, South, East & West  who come to pray to St. Anthony, to ask his help for some need, to fulfill promisses made, to thank him for  answering their prayers and show their love and respect.  The history of this church at Kochchikade as handed down by tradition and gleaned from the documents preserved  in the Archdiocesan Archives in Colombo is as follows; In the 18th Century, Catholicism was still a proscribed religion in Sri Lanka and priests could not exercise their  ministry in public. The Dutch were persecuting the Catholics but who preferred to be degraded, impoverished and  ridiculed rather than give up their Faith; Shrines such as Madhu, Talawila and Kochchikade are souvenirs of those  dark days of the persecution. (S.G. Per era, S J Historical Sketches page 14) A few Orations from Goa, visited the  faithful in Ceylon at the risk at their lives. Fr. Jacome Gonsalves the Superior of Orations who is affectionately  remembered in Ceylon as the ‘father of Sinhala Catholic Literature, lamented the fact the Catholics of Colombo had  no resident priest. However a zealous priest, Fr. Antonio, disguised as a merchant took up his abode in a house in  Maliban Street, Colombo, close to St. Philip Neris Church. (The old Church faced the road) The Dutch discovered  his hiding place, but Fr. Antonio, disguised, fled towards Mutwal. He met some fishermen who knew him and his  reputation for Sanctity, and volunteered to protect him from the Dutch, provided he obtained from God the favor they  wanted, namely the stoppage of Sea erosion. When the pursuers arrived, the fishermen refused to hand over Fr.  Antonio until he had granted them the favor they were asking for. Fr. Antonio then returned to his home at Maliban  Street, and came to the shoe, clad in his priestly garments and with a large wooden Cross in his hand. Planting the  Cross at the spot most threatened by the advancing Sea, he prayed to God to manifest His Glory, by working this  miracle. On the third day the waves receded and an extensive sand bank was exposed to the view of all.  Colombo - St Lucia’s Cathedral Creating the illusion of ascending to the heavens,   St. Lucia’s Cathedral stands tall with its rich history and architectural value – with the majesty of its dome, the  gracefulness of its vault and its breathtaking stained glass windows. Established since 1760, what sets it apart is not just its overwhelming vastness, but as a very special place of prayer and worship. Today, St. Lucia’s Cathedral is the spiritual centre of the Roman  Catholic Church of the Colombo Archdiocese. Its spiritual atmosphere, shaped by the legacy left behind by early  Oratarian Missionaries, is what gives devotees a deep closeness to God. It continues to nourish those who have  sought comfort within her walls. I hope that your visit to our website gives you a sense of the beauty and historical value of the Cathedral. We also  take great pleasure in warmly inviting you to personally visit this grand edifice that has stood the test of time.   Marawilla - Kurusa Palliya Silent but intent are the men, women and children who raise their eyes in prayer and pleading, to the life-size statue  of Jesus Christ hanging on the Cross, looking down on them benevolently. While some sit cross-legged or kneel with arms outstretched on the sandy-floor in this simple and spartan shrine,  others drag themselves on bended knee along the narrow concrete pathway leading to it.  They murmur their prayers, make a vow or light a few candles and go on their way, for the whispers of “prathihara  and haskam” (miracles) which have been coming down the years, have in recent times become a loud call, drawing  more and more faithful to the humble ‘Kurusa Palliya’ (Holy Cross Shrine) on the Marawila wella (beach) with  glimpses of the blue sea over the low wall. Crowds and not only Catholics but from all religions and not just from Marawila but from across the country stop by  at the Kurusa Palliya to look in wonderment at the line-image of Christ’s face visible on the stomach of the statue.  The shrine is open throughout the day and night and some come in for a quiet moment even early morning around  2. The outline of Christ’s face on the stomach It was about six months ago that Marawila Parish Priest Fr. Ivan Peter Fernando wanted a new coat of paint for the  beautiful statue of the Kurusa Palliya.  Unlike the opulence of big churches, the simple structure which is home to the statue of Christ on the Cross is  surrounded by tombstones. Burials still take place here as it is the ‘grave-yard’ of the Church of Our Lady of  Presentation just up the road about 350 metres away. The church had been consecrated way back on February 1,  1875 and the grave-yard established two years later on April 15, 1877.  Mannar - Shrine of Out Lady of Madhu   The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu is a Roman Catholic Marian shrine in Mannar district of Sri Lanka. With a history  of over 400 years, this shrine acts as a center for pilgrimage and worship for Sri Lankan Catholics.[1] The site is  considered as the holiest Catholic shrine in the island[2] and is a well known place of devotion for both Tamil and  Sinhalese Catholics.[3] The church has been a symbol of unity not just between Tamils and Sinhalese, but also  between people of different religions, including Buddhists, Hindus and Protestants.[4] Attendance for the August  festival at times touched close to a million people before the outbreak of the Sri Lankan Civil War.[1] Situated in the  heart of the conflict zone, pilgrimage to this shrine was dramatically affected by the Civil War with the presence of  refugee camps around the shrine complex.[2] It was shelled a number of times. Christianity in Sri Lanka is not well known before the 16th century although some local traditions claim that Saint  Thomas the Apostle was active in the island.[5] The Portuguese missionaries from India, especially under the  authority of Saint Francis Xavier are known to have brought Roman Catholicism to the Kingdom of Jaffna, which  comprised the northern peninsula of Sri Lanka.[6] The newly converted Christians were under persecution under  both the king of Jaffna[6] and the Dutch.[7] During this time the Catholics regrouped to form a church in Mantai  installing a statue of Our Lady of Good Health in a shrine.[6]  The shrine in Madhu[edit]  The Dutch invasion and the persecution of the Catholic Church in 1670,[7] led to 20 Catholic families fleeing from  Mantai, along with the statue of Mary in that church to a safer locale of Madhu.[8] About the same time another 700  Catholics migrated from Jaffna peninsula into Wanni forests. When these two communities met in Madhu they  installed a new shrine with the statue. Negombo - St. Mary's Church St. Mary's is Negombo's best known church and is one of the biggest attractions on the island. It is about 140 years  old and has got amazing religious depictions painted all across its ceiling. Size-wise, it reminded us of the Cathedral in Kotahena. It looks pretty epic from outside, with gothic columns and  clean cream walls. Next to the church is a smaller building, which is actually quite nice, with lovely stained glass windows and a striking  central depiction of Christ.  People go here even when the main church is closed in the afternoons. It's a must-visit in the evenings just to see  light falling through stained glass. Go downstairs from here to a quiet prayer space alongside striking gold and red  statuettes of angels. The main church itself is very grand. There are religious statuettes all across the upper walls outside the aisle, and  the highlight of course are the ceiling paintings. Some of the paintings on the ceilings depict Mother Mary while others like this one show God and angels.  This very detailed sculpture at the altar at the end of the aisle makes an incredibly distinctive sight. Mother Mary is  being made Queen of the Heavens.  Negombo - St. Anthony’s Church Dalupotha In the city known as “Little Rome”, there is a magnificent church built and devoted to the dearest saint of all time –  St. Anthony – adjacent to the Colombo Chillaw highway in Dalupotha, Negombo. The church building, almost 80%  funded by the donations of the devotees is visible from the highway as a beautiful golden tower structure.  The church, which turned 100 years on the 13th of June 1992 conducted its centenary celebrations in a grand scale  with the participation of Catholics from all around the area. The church is flocked every Tuesday by thousands of  devotees, both from the 100% catholic community in Dalupotha. Three masses are celebrated, one at 7 a.m.  another at 5 p.m. and then the third at 7.p.m.  On Tuesdays Catholics and non-Catholics alike congregate at the church to pay their love and devotion to St.  Anthony who graciously intercedes on their behalf to obtain many favors and graces from God the Almighty.  Offerings of flowers, candles, incense and oil along with the prayers of the devotees inspire faith and tranquility in  all those who visit the church.  Thalawila - St. Anne’s Church No matter what religion you follow, St. Anne’s Church in Talawila is one of the most ancient and wonderful of all  Christian shrines in Sri Lanka. Founded in the epicentre of tradition and holiness, thousands of pilgrims flock during  the Christmas season, in March and August to this amazing place of solitude and solace. Close to Kalpitiya, the  St.Anne’s Church is easy to access with the roads in good condition and offering some stunning views of the  Talawila Beach in peace. There are two accounts of its origins in which the first one is about a European trader, traveling in a ship dedicated  to St. Anne, was shipwrecked off the coast of Talawila in the early half of the 18th century. As the place where they  landed wasn’t very hospitable, they sought a place to rest their aching limbs and souls. They spied a large banyan  tree at a distance and they approached it with the statue of St. Anne which they had in their possession. This image,  they placed in the tree with the captain of the ship vowing to return again and build a church if his business  prospered. The European trader obviously met with success as he desired, and kept his word by building a church  at the place where the statue of St. Anne stood in its glory.  The other account is that in the 17th century, a poor Portuguese man journeyed from Mannar to Colombo in order to  seek a livelihood. However, he failed to do so and was returning by the coast, when he happened to fall asleep  under a large tree at Talawila at the site of the present church. He dreamed that he saw an image at the foot of the  tree, with lighted tapers burning on each side. Waking up from his sleep, he saw with astonishment that the image  was actually there.  Tewatte - The National Basilica One of the wondrous aspects of Sri Lanka's spiritual nature is the extraordinary multi-denominational pilgrimages  that are made, from climbing a mountain, Sri Pada, to encountering the jungle at Kataragama. These are ancient  pilgrimages, but there is one of modern origin, whose destination is not a far-flung place, but just outside Colombo,  and just as worthy. Words: Richard Boyle  As you near the vehicle entrance to the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka at Tewatte you pass the breathtaking  approach to the holy building for those on foot. This approach consists of a series of extensively wide flights of  steps descending then ascending into the distance, encroached upon by large swathes of woodland. 
At the  farthest end of the steps the Basilica stands, partly obscured by foliage. Yet it can be sufficiently observed to realise  that its curious architectural elements are unfamiliar in Roman Catholicism. Having descended the shallow steps and begun to appreciate the sylvan surroundings, you ascend and reach two  statues flanking the steps; the former Archbishop of Colombo, Jean-Marie Masson, and his successor, Archbishop  (later Cardinal) Thomas Cooray, both responsible for the existence of the Basilica. It all began when a shrine (a  chapel) to Our Lady of Lourdes (the apparition of Mary Immaculate at Lourdes, France) was erected in 1911 and a  grotto formed in 1917. Then, in the 1930s, the chapel was enlarged to a church because Tewatte, as it was known,  became a popular place of pilgrimage for the Catholics of the Colombo Archdiocese, although it shortly became  multi-denominational, with Buddhists and Hindus from all parts of the island making devotion to Our Lady of Lanka. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Archbishop Masson made a vow that if then Ceylon was protected  from major conflict, he would build a Votive Basilica under the title Our Lady of Lanka. As it happened, Ceylon was  indeed spared the worst. In 1946, 
a delighted Archbishop Masson obtained approval from Pope Pius XII for the  construction of a basilica in honour of Our Lady of Lanka.  The Parents Day of the Minor Seminary, Poornawatte, Kandy was held on 01st October 2013.  The proceeding began with the Eucharistic Celebration was offered by Very Rev. Fr. Milroy Fonseka, the Vicar  General of the diocese and Rev. Fr. Colvin Fernandopulle, the Rector of the Minor Seminary.  Minor Seminarians who were to proceed to Daham Sevana, Kaluttara were interviewed by the Bishop. Variety  Entertainment by the minor seminarians exhibited their talents by performing dramas and singing. His Lordship, in his speech thanked the Rector for providing all possible opportunities to promote the seminarians in the field of education and, especially in their formation. Further he thanked the teachers  Wahakotte - St. Anthony’s Church St. Anthony’s church at Wahakotte is one of the most sacred shrines for catholics in Sri Lanka. This historic church  is situated in Udugoda Palelsiya Pattuwa, to the North-West of Matale district, four miles from Galewela town on  Matale-Galewela main rod. It is about 140 Km from Colombo, through Warakapola-Kurunegala, Galewela and Wahakotte. From Kandy it is  about 55 km via Matale-Palapathwela and Wahakotte, and from Negambo it is about 130 km. through Kurunegala-  Galewela and Wahakotte. From Chilaw it is about 120 km along Kurunegala-Galewela and Wahakotte.  History Wahakotte was known as “Wasala-Kotte” – Castle in the Fort. It is believed that there was a palace and a fort,  where the present church is situated, the village was so called, because it protected the palace, traces of which are  still visible. There is another legend to say that “Waha”-poison; “Kotte” – pillow; means poisonous pollow because a  queen had committed suicide after hearing of her husband’s death at war. History records that when king Dutugemunu defeated king Elara, in 164 B.C. he had built a small fortress at  Wahakotte. There are still some ruins of ancient buildings on a rocky-hill called “Maligatenna” – Palace-field.  Wennappuwa - St. Joseph Church North Western Province is a province that consisting districts of Kurunegala and Puttalam formulate North Western  or Wayamba. Its capital is Kurunegala, which has a population of 28,571. The province is known mainly for its  numerous coconut plantations. Other main towns in this province are Chilaw (24,712) and Puttalam (45,661), which  are both small fishing towns. The majority of the population of Wayamba province is of Sinhalese ethnicity. There is  also a substantial Sri Lankan Moor minority around Puttalam and Sri Lankan Tamils in Udappu and Munneswaram.  Fishing, prawn farming and rubber tree plantations are other prominent industries of the region. The province  spreads across an area of 7,888 km2 and a population of 2,184,136 (2005 calculation). Wayamba is the third largest paddy producing area in Sri Lanka. Wayamba has a highly developed agricultural  economy, growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, flowering plants, spices, oil-seeds in addition to the traditional  plantation crops such as Coconut, Rubber and Rice. Rich soils and varied climate give Wayamba a potential for  growing virtually any crop in Sri Lanka.  Wayamba or North western province is home to ancient Buddhist rock temples & magnificent citadels of  Panduwasnuwara, Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa and Kurunegala. Impressive remains of those citadels, palaces,  Buddhist temples and monasteries provide exciting sight seeing to the visitors. If you are visiting Wennappuwa Town of North Western Province of Sri Lanka we recommend you to stay at  Charming Holiday House, Ahangama, Sri Lanka. You probably needs to Rent a Car in Sri Lanka to visit Charming  Holiday House, Ahangama.
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