Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka’s government has kept its promise: in answer to the numerous appeals made by local Churches, from today the main road to the Madhu shrine has been reopened. In this way the many pilgrims will be able to make their way to the Marian Shrine for celebrations on the feast of the Assumption August 15th.
Colombo had closed the road last year following clashes between the military and Tamil Tiger rebels in the North-east. The Church is situated 220Km north of the Colombo, in a forest area controlled by the Tamil Tigers, who until now have respected pilgrims.
A month ago Sri Lankan armed forces and the Tigers agreed a “No war Zone” around the sanctuary to guarantee the safety of pilgrims during their principal religious feasts. This week in Kilinochchi the Minister for Defence and the Tigers signed declarations, committing themselves to avoiding clashes in the area.
Father Devarajha Sandanampillai of the Parish priest of St. Sebestian Church in Mannar hopes that “with the re-opening of the Madhu Road (a shortcut to the sanctuary) more pilgrims will come”. “These days, devotees mainly Tamils from near by parishes are preparing for the feast of Assumption by attending daily novenas praying the rosary and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and also the mass hold everyday”. “The road still remained closed yesterday but from tomorrow after re-opening the main road we hope to see thousands of devotees and that they will stay to pray to Our Lady of Madhu till 17 August”.
The Bishop Rayappu Joseph has early informed through the Catholic news papers to bring the original identity card along with four photo copies.
According to Father Devarajha, Bishop Harold Anthoney of Galle Diocese and Bishop Norbert Andradi of Anuradhapura Diocese will concelebrate the holy mass with Bishop Rayappu Joseph on August 15th.