Church History

The Lady who came over the waves -

In the Catholic Church at Matara is a Statue of the Blessed Virgin and Child of which many miracles have been attributed.Several experts in Europe pronounced it to belong to the Portuguese type of sculpture of the beginning of the 17th century. It is cut out of one solid piece of Ash wood.

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Miraculous Statue

The miraculous statue of Our Lady of Matara is about 400 years old. Several experts in Europe have pronounced to the Portuguese type of sculpture of the beginning of the 17 th century. It is cut out of one solid piece of ash wood .

Mystery

This statue has a story intertwined with the sea. Legend tells us that a huge wooden-crate was hauled out of the sea by some fishermen of Weligama, a town between Galle city & Matara. When it was opened, this beautiful statue of the Mother & child was found inside, untouched by the sea water. They handed it over to the Parish Priest of Matara & it was subsequently placed in St. Mary's Church, Matara. The statue has come on its own, over the waves & given itself to the care of the Catholics of Ruhunu Rata(Down South of Sri-Lanka)

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A Glimpse to the Past

I first visited St. Mary's Church, Matara, presently known as the Church of our Lady of Matara as far back as 1948 at the age of ten years with my father. The Parish Priest then was Rev. Fr. Ned Alles who happened to be a classmate of my father. He welcomed us with great love and took us to the church and showe us the wonderful miraculous statue of the Mother and the Child. We were so happy and were permitted to kiss it.

At this stage Fr. Alles remarked, “My son in time to come this miraculous statue will draw vast crowds to this statue to celebrate her feast. True to his words TODAY thousands and thousands flock to celebrate her feast. The statue always shows a smiling face welcoming anyone who visits her.

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A peep into the past

Sweet and happy memories come into my mind as I attempt to bring before the reader how the Titular Feast of St. Mary's Church (Nativity of Our Lady) was celebrated in the past.

Before I proceed further, I wish to mention that this Shrine almost unheard of in the early years shot into Island wide fame in the late 1940's. The late Papol Chamberlain J. P. De Fonseka who visited this Shrine 53 years ago made this prophetic statement on paper “the few hundreds who had gathered there on that Feast day will increase to several thousands in the years to come”. This prophetic statement has been proved to the very hilt for now over 200,000 pilgrims on this Shrine every year.

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