Sri Lanka’s only basilica and its largest and most popular Catholic Church, the National Basilica of Tewatte was built as a fulfilling of vow invoking the blessings of Virgin Mary on Sri Lanka during the World War II. There are plenty of Negombo Sri Lanka hotels which one could choose for accommodation when visiting this magnificent structure and Hotel J is one such budget hotel in Negombo which is ideal for those intent on sightseeing. The then Archbishop of Colombo, Jean-Marie Masson made a vow to Virgin Mary that if Sri Lanka was spared of the ravages of war during the World War II, a basilica would be built and dedicated to her in the name of “Our Lady of Lanka”. However, it was the Cardinal Thomas Cooray who succeeded Archbishop Masson who fulfilled this vow in the year 1974 building this colossal structure standing amidst the overwhelming foliage of a rubber plantation. The term basilica stands for a Roman Catholic court of Justice which today is interpreted as an important church which was accorded special ceremonial rites by the Pope. The grandeur of the building is evident from the first peak of the site. The façade itself is quite overwhelming framed by the lush foliage as one walks up to the basilica. The architecture of the building while astounding carries a wealth of meaning as well. The twin towers that loom on either sides of the porch tands for the love of God and the love of the neibour. There are also six gleaming granite pillars on the porch which stand for the six dioceses the Catholic Church was divided into at that time for administrative purposes. However, the most remarkable feature is the cross with the bronze Christ in the backdrop of the large cicular glass window that gleams in the sunlight. It was sculpted after much study and and dedication by the famous bronze sculptor Leila Peiris and was inspired by the famous shroud of Turin which is believed to be the original shroud in which the body of Christ was wrapped. The inside of the church is large and cool with a grand pillared hall, vaulted ceilings and a breathtaking altar of white stone which stands in contrast to the dressed stone that the walls surrounding it are made of. The statue of Our Lady of Lanka while taking the lineament of Our Lady of Fatima from Portugal differs from the statue. Our Lady with Infant Jesus in her arms is pointing to Infant Jesus while Jesus is pointing to Our Lady interpreted to mean ‘to Jesus through Mary. Also within the site is the old church which was already there when the basilica was built and also a grotto representing the grotto of the Lourdes.
Jayani Senanayake is a writer who dabbles in travel and all things exotic. Under the pseudonym of Calliope Sage, she writes of the allures that must simply be discovered. Google+