She was the first consecrated lay woman from the island nation to be declared Servant of God. Very revered across the country, she received stigmata at the age of 22. The Diocese of Chilaw sent all the necessary documentation to Rome.
Chilaw (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church of Sri Lanka hopes to see the completion of the diocesan phase of the beatification process of Helena da Gonawila, the first Sri Lankan lay woman declared Servant of God in 2016.
For this reason, the Diocese of Chilaw, which includes St. Joseph parish where she worked and is buried, has asked the faithful who knew her to collect as many of her personal belongings, organise prayer vigils and pray more for a woman who was completely devoted to prayer, meditation and serving the local church. Sri Lankan Catholics believe that her intercession has led to several miracles.
Very much revered across the country, she was born on 18 March 1849 in Gonawila, in the central-western province, and died on 8 February 1931 at the age of 88.
For most of her life she lived with the pain of the stigmata, which she received on 12 October 1870, when she was 22. She herself had asked the Lord to bless her with wounds to share.
Until her death, she did not stop praying for the redemption and conversion of her father and brother, both of whom were Buddhist and involved in demon activities, like offering animals as sacrifice.
Two groups were inspired by Helena's example, and are now devoted to her beatification: The Honorable Sister Helena's Women Group and the Honorable Sister Helena Foundation.
As an act of remembrance, St Joseph’s Catholic Church dedicated her a solemn Mass and a prayer vigil on 8 February, the 88th anniversary of her death.
At the service, the two women’s groups handed out lotus flowers and candles to those present. The lotus, Nelum mal in the local language, is Sri Lanka’s national flower.
"We ask all the faithful to pray more for the intercession of their sister Helena,” said Valance Mendis, bishop of Chilaw. “Other miracles may take place and the process of beatification and canonisation proceed. We have sent all the necessary documents to Rome. We await only other miracles."