Madhu, Sri Lanka: The Madhu Church (Our Lady of Madhu)
About the Madhu Shrine:
The Madhu Church and Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu (also known as Our Lady of the Rosary Shrine), dates from the 1670’s. At that time, Portugal ruled Sri Lanka (known then as Ceylon) and when the Dutch invaded, a group of about 20 Catholic families from Mantai, on the coast, fled inland to the more-isolated area of Madhu, taking with them a statue of the Blessed Mother. Later, another group of families joined them and a church was built here.
Considered to be the most important Catholic shrine on the island, the Church draws many pilgrims from throughout the country…both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It was visited by Pope Paul VI in 1970 and John Paul II in 1995. Most recently, it was visited by Pope Francis in January 2015.
The most popular date is August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Close to one million people show up on that date, although the number was naturally smaller during the civil war of the 1983 to 2003. Since that time the situation has drastically improved and safety is no longer an issue.
Traveling to the Mahdu Shrine:
Most visitors arrive in groups, such as the one shown in the photos to the right. If traveling alone, the nearest major town to the Mahdu Shrine is Vavuniya, which has a small airport as well as a train station. From there you need to take a bus or taxi to the Shrine.
GPS coordinates: 8° 51′ 15.6132” N, 80° 12′ 17.7876” E
Tel: +94 77 201 2485
There is no official website for the Shrine.
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Photo credits: 1. TripAdvisor 2-4 Archdiocese of Colombo