The Feast of Our Lady of Matara is celebrated from September 9 to 11, to mark the birth of Mother Mary, our Heavenly Mother. Large crowds are expected to attend this year’s Feast.
All other facilities are arranged by the Administrator and Parish Priest of this Church, Rev. Fr. Damian Arsecularatne and his assistant Rev. Prasad Ruwan, together with the parish family.
THE MIRACULOUS STATUE
The Miraculous statue is well over 400-years-old and is cut from one solid piece of ash wood. It is a beautiful statue of Mother and child. Several experts in Europe are of the opinion that it is of Portuguese origin, dating from the 17th Century.
HISTORY OF THE STATUE
The story of the statue has been passed down through generations. It tells of a wooden crate pulled out of the sea by fishermen off the coast of Weligama near Matara, early in the 17th century.
When the crate was opened, the statue of Mother and Child were found inside, untouched by the seawater. The fishermen promptly handed over the statue to the Parish Priest, who placed it in the original church of Matara.
Sometime later, the statue had to be hidden due to the religious sanctions imposed by the Dutch. Once again, however, it was returned to Matara.
The statue arrived floating over the waves and delivered itself into the care of the Catholics of the Ruhunu Rata-South of Sri Lanka. It is a seaboard shrine and Mother Mary is ever ready to help all who visit Her Shrine and present their petitions and pleas for redress.
The STATUE WAS LOST ON THREE OCCASIONS
We may also place on record the three occasions during which the statue was lost in the sea and recovered, the last occasion being the Tsunami, when the statue was washed away during Sunday Mass held by Rev. Fr. Charles Hewawasam (the present Vicar General of Galle) and found after being washed ashore three days later.
THE FAMOUS CHOLERA EPIDEMIC
People were in the habit of visiting the Shrine for favours. Numerous favours were reported even then. During a latter period, a cholera epidemic raged through the entire district and claimed hundreds of lives.
Catholics rallied round the Statue and prayed fervently to be freed from the dreadful disease.
The Statue was taken in procession through the streets of Matara. Non-Catholics too participated. After a few days the Health Authorities declared the area safe. Thereafter no more fresh cases were reported.
Since then, the people of Matara have come to look upon this statue as miraculous. They presented their numerous problems to the Good Mother and she never failed to answer them.
To this day, people believe the Good Mother never fails to answer the prayers of the Pilgrims who kneel at her feet.
Chapel for the Blessed Sacrament
The Blessed Sacrament is displayed in a Chapel (from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and anyone who visits the Shrine may view it.
First Saturday Mass
The first Saturday Mass is celebrated at 7 a.m. Many pilgrims attend this Mass during their pilgrimage.
They believe Mother Mary has promised anyone taking part in the First Saturday devotions on five consecutive first Saturdays - along with the following:-
(a) Confess and receive Holy Communion
(b) Recites five decades of the Rosary
(c) Keeps Her company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
(d) With the intention of making reparations to Her.
- that she will appear by their bedsides in their last moments.