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National shrine of Our Lady of Matara celebrates 108 years

11 September 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The annual feast will be held on 11th, 12th and 13th September 2015


Enshrined in one church that stands facing the southern seas, along this stretch of coast from Weligama to Dondra, is the shrine of Our Lady of Matara. How it escaped the hands of the Dutch Calvinists when they destroyed the beautiful church that sheltered the beautiful statue we can only surmise. The protection of Our Lady  was there to bestow through this priceless treasure, a stream of  favours.

Today many pilgrims arrive daily to  obtain redress, at this shrine. The present Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Damian Arsecularatne spares no pains to hear them, pray and bless them. 

We cannot forget the three occasions where our Heavenly Mother came over the waves to take permanent abode with the people of Ruhuna.

This church has become famous due to numerous miracles that take place daily.

On the third occasion, it was the 26th. of December 2004 where she was carried away by the Tsunami waters with 26 worshippers which happened to be Holy Family Sunday. She was at deep sea for three days and returned to Matara in a miraculous manner. The then Parish Priest and present Vicar General of the Galle Diocease Rev. Fr. Charles Hewawasam was praying with a few members of the Parish family. Suddenly he had a strange visitor with the good news that the miraculous statue was washed ashore. Fr. Charles embraced the statue crying “Oh Mother, we were searching for you and you have come back to be with us”. It was a very solemn moment.



The Miraculous Statue
Experts opinion in Europe on this three hundred year old statue which has been carved out of one block of Ashwood, declares that the statue in its features is characteristic of Portuguese style in sculpture of the 17th century.



Cholera Epidemic
Later a Cholera epidemic swept the entire Southern District and claimed hundreds of lives. The people rallied round the miraculous statue and prayed for an end to this epidemic. The statue was taken in procession through the streets of Matara. People of all religions participated. After a few days, the area was declared safe by the Health Authorities.  Our Dear Mother answered the prayers of everyone.



Mystery
As to who brought this statue to Sri Lanka, or who the sculptor was or from which country it came,  is shrouded in mystery, but the fact remains that it was with us when the Portuguese occupied the Western and Southern coasts over 300 years ago.

When the Portuguese were defeated by Catholics (1698 - 1796) some devout Catholics fled from the Dutch governed area with this statue and hid it. Later it found its way back to Matara.

Legend tells us that a huge crate was hauled out of the sea by some fishermen of Weligama. When it was opened, this beautiful Statue of Mother and Child was inside, untouched by sea water.

These fishermen handed it over to the Parish Priest and it was subsequently placed at St. Mary’s Church Matara. 

The  Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Damian Arsecularatne with the parish family has made all arrangements for the convenience of the pilgrims.

11th September 2015 4:30 pm : Holy Hour followed by the Eucharistic procession & Benediction.

Celebrant - Rev. Fr. Charles Hewawasam, Vicar General, Galle Diocese.

12th September 2015    3:30 pm : Welcoming of  Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of  Colombo together with the Bishop of Galle.

4:30 pm : Rosary, Litany & Vespers followed by the Marian procession with the Miraculous Statue.

Celebrant- Evening Vespers :-  Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith together with the Bishop of Galle.

13th September 2015 Feast Day : There will be holy masses at 4:00 a.m., 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
The festive high mass will be at 8 a.m.

Celebrant :The festive High Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith  together with  Rev. Dr. Raymond Wickremasinghe, the Bishop of Galle.
There will be masses at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m.  

Please note - 
On Saturday, 12th September 2015,  there will be a special train from Chilaw (Bangadeniya to Matara).
On Sunday, 13th September 2015, there will be a special train from Matara to Chilaw (Matara to Bangadeniya).
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