The annual Feast of Our Lady of Madhu

Our Lady of Madhu Church, Mannar attracts large crowds of devotees during its annual festival which takes place this August.
Our lady of Madhu Church
©BT Images
Our Lady of Madhu
©BT Images
By Swetha |

Long considered to be the holiest place of Roman Catholic worship in Sri Lanka, the Shrine of Our Lady of Rosary in Madhu is a beacon of hope and faith. All year long Mother Mary’s life is celebrated here but the grandest celebration of all is held in August, which coincides with the Feast of Mother Mary’s Assumption to heaven. With the flag hoisting starts the nine-day preparatory period before the Feast of Our Lady of Madhu.

Situated in Mannar, one can reach the holy premises via the secluded road stretching through the Madhu Sanctuary. Blue flags flutter high in the wind and adorn the church precincts, almost blending with the skyline. The solemn structure in blue and white comes into sight, upon entering the sacred grounds.

The miraculous statue of Mother Mary holding the infant Jesus at its altar has an intriguing history and much of its past has been lost with time. The initial abode of Our Lady of Madhu is said to have been in Mantai, situated a short distance away from its present place. According to the annals of history, a woman named Helena is said to have been instrumental in building the first shrine in Madhu.

A time-honoured tradition, camping in the church grounds is a ritual of the Madhu pilgrimage. Some set up makeshift tents while others will reside in small houses, which is an alternative to camping. The benevolent statue of Our Lady of Madhu, has for years offered solace, blessings and refuge to the ones who come to experience her divine presence. For its islandwide flock, this shrine nested amidst a dense jungle, is the ultimate safe haven. Even after the annual feast concludes, crowds gather in throngs all year round seeking the holy mother’s blessings.

Every August the tranquil town of Madhu witnesses the arrival of thousands and thousands of devotees of all faiths, from across the island.

A sense of buoyant joy as well as spirituality resonates within the sanctum during the Grand Feast of Madhu. The sacred ground throbs with exuberant devotion as devotees gather for prayers in deep veneration.

In 2015, his Holiness Pope Francis set foot on this hallowed soil which is revered by many as the dwelling place of divine presence. Pope Francis also opened the Blessed Sacrament Chapel during his holiness’s visit.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu is a profound religious site of great spirituality and divinity. 

The Feast of Our Lady of Madhu will take place from August 6 to August 15, 2018

The Hoisting of the Flag- August 6, 2018

Assumption of Mother Mary August 15, 2018

Daily Masses are held in both Tamil (6am) and Sinhala (6.45am) on weekdays.

During the weekends, Mass will be held at 11.15am in both Tamil and Sinhala.

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