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    » 08/16/2010, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    More than 450,000 pilgrims visit Madhu shrine for 15 August

    Melani Manel Perera

    This year, the family as a small church where Christian values are taught is the main theme of the celebrations surrounding Mary’s Assumption. The feast day also marks the end of National Family Week, launched by the Church’s Laity Commission.
    Colombo (AsiaNews) – More than 450,000 pilgrims yesterday celebrated the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary, Mother of God, at the Marian shrine of Madhu, in what is the second celebration since the civil war ended in the defeat of Tamil Tigers in May 2009. In previous years, the war did not spare the shrine and its surrounding area, making celebrations difficult.

    Most Catholics gathered at the site for vespers on Saturday, a day before. Mgr Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, also led a solemn procession, together with Mgr Thomas Savundaranavagam, bishop of Jaffna, Mgr Rayappu Joseph, bishop of Mannar, Mgr Winston Fernando, bishop of Badulla and Mgr Norbert Andradi, bishop of Anuradhapura.

    A solemn Mass at 6.30 am began the next day, Sunday 15 August, celebrated by Mgr Ranjith and other bishops and priests, in Sinhala, Tamil and Latin.

    This year, the festivity also brought to a close the Church’s National Family Week that the National Laity Commission had launched on 6 August in the diocese of Mannar. ‘The Family is the teacher of Christian values’ was the event’s main theme.

    Mgr Winston Fernando, who heads the Laity Commission, led daily meetings with families, youth and children, together with diocesan coordinators for family apostolate.

    “We want to pass on good principles to each family,” Fr Julian Patrick Perera, director of the National Family Apostolate, told AsiaNews.

    “By participating in these daily meetings,” held in both Sinhala and Tamil, “the faithful can be helped to renew their family life,” he added. “Those who participated in our meetings, whether Catholic or not, were able to learn about how to lead an exemplary life.”

    In his homily at the Madhu shrine, Mgr Ranjith reminded those present that “in the north there are families who lost sisters and brothers; families that lost fathers and mothers; families who lost husbands and wives. Some of them are huddled under makeshift shelters made from thin metal sheets. These suffering people belong to the same family loved by God.”

    The family is the source of love, he explained. And love, which comes from God, is passed on from parents to children and between spouses.

    “Many married couples do not want children; others are postponing them,” he said. However, he reminded his audience that “for Christians, the family is a small church”.

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    See also

    23/07/2008 SRI LANKA
    Bombings intensify, "Our Lady of Madhu" moved
    Fighting and bombings in the area have required the statue of the Virgin Mary to be moved to the bishop's residence. The intensification of the conflict is forcing tens of thousands of refugees to live under the trees and in the jungle.

    12/08/2008 SRI LANKA
    Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu reopened after minesweeping
    There will be no solemn celebrations on August 15, but from August 12-17 groups of 200 pilgrims will be able to visit the shrine. The army has swept an area around the church for mines, but the zone is still dangerous.

    08/08/2008 SRI LANKA
    Sri Lanka, feast of Assumption canceled for "security reasons"
    The bishop of Mannar has called off the celebrations at the shrine of Our Lady of Madhu. The decision was made necessary by the failed agreement between the government and the Tamil Tigers on the creation of a "conflict free zone" around the sacred site.

    19/10/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: in Pompeii to entrust the synod and missionaries to the Virgin Mary
    On pilgrimage to the shrine dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosary, Benedict XVI speaks of "the role of Mary," who "personifies the people chosen by him to spread his blessing to the entire human family." Recalling the life of Blessed Bartolo Longo, the pope stresses that anti-clericalism and superstition are not lacking in our day.

    06/06/2007 SRI LANKA
    Marian shrine in Madhu to become ‘peace zone’
    In a meeting with Catholic bishops, President Rajapakse accepts Church proposal to guarantee safety to pilgrims visiting the island nation’s most famous Marian shrine. Christians but also Buddhists and Hindus rejoice, hopeful that these words of peace will not remain an empty statement but turn instead into concrete actions.



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