08/20/2016, 12.27
SRI LANKA
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Sri Lanka: 400 thousand people on pilgrimage to the shrines of St. Anne and Mary

by Melani Manel Perera

In August the shrines of Thalawila and Madhu are crowded with pilgrims, both Catholic and non. On August 7, the feast of the Mother of Our Lady was celebrated with three days of spiritual retreat. August 15, Madhu celebrated the Assumption of Mary.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of thousands of people, both Catholic and non Catholic this month have flocked to the nation's Marian shrines to celebrate the feasts of St. Anne and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

About 400 thousand people headed on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Anne of Thalawila, in Puttlam District (northwest Sri Lanka). There, August 7th they celebrated the feast of Our Lady's mother with a solemn Mass presided by Msgr. Valence Mendis, Bishop of Chilaw, and by Msgr. Emmanual Fernando, auxiliary bishop of Colombo.

Vincent Fernando, an activist for the rights of fishermen, was present at the Thalawila sanctuary on the feast days: "As every year - he says - there were three days of spiritual retreat for all the faithful at the shrine. This year, there were also catechesis for the children, young people and married couples, led by Fr. Jeewantha. There was a big crowd and almost 5 thousand people have followed them".

The annual pilgrimage, said the activist, is a valuable occasion for the family because "we can get together and pray for one another. Despite the hardships of the journey and the difficulties in the camps (sanitary facilities, sleeping on the ground, etc.) we have endured all this to pray".

August 15 is the most important day for the Madhu shrine of Wanni, one of the most famous and popular in the country and located in the diocese of Mannar (North West Province). The feast began with a Mass presided by Msgr. Malcolm Rajith, archbishop of Colombo, along with three other bishops.

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