02/08/2014, 00.00
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Pope: Sri Lanka, the pearl and the tears consecrated to Our Lady of Tewatte

Pope Francis meets a group of faithful from Sri Lanka, led by Card. Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo. The pontiff asks them to work for national reconciliation, healing wounds and also collaborating with former adversaries.

Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - Sri Lanka, "the Pearl of the Indian Ocean", where "many tears have been shed in recent years" due to the conflict with the Tamil Tigers , has "a special place in my prayers", said Pope Francis as he met a group of faithful, led by Card. Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, along with other bishops. The group arrived in Rome on a pilgrimage to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the consecration of Sri Lanka to the Virgin. To further emphasize this occasion, at the end of the Year of Faith, Card. Ranjith launched "Marian Year" for all the faithful of the island.

As the Pope himself explained: "Seventy-five years ago, the dark clouds of what would be the second world conflict were thickening in the skies and the faithful, guided by a sure intuition of faith, entrusted themselves to Our Lady, who always defends her children from dangers. In 1940, in the dramatic circumstances of the war, the Archbishop of Colombo, Mgr Jean-Marie Masson, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, made a vow to build a shrine in honour of Our Lady if the island were preserved from foreign invasion. So it came about, and after the end of the war the beautiful Shrine of Our Lady of Lanka at Tewatte was built, and was consecrated forty years ago".

The Pope recalled the painful history of Sri Lanka in recent decades, bloodied by fierce fighting between Tamil separatist groups and the regular army (1983 - 2009) of which the country and the people still bear the wounds.

"Your homeland - said the Pope - is called the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, on account of its natural beauty and its shape. They say that the pearl is formed from the tears of the oyster. Unfortunately, many tears have been shed in recent years, on account of the internal conflict which caused so many victims and so much damage. It is not easy, I know, to heal the wounds and cooperate with yesterday's enemy to build tomorrow together, but it is the only path that gives hope for the future, for development and for peace. For this reason, I assure you that you have a particular place in my prayer. I ask the Lord to grant you the gift of peace and reconciliation, and to help you in your effort to ensure a better future for all who live in Sri Lanka".


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