St Benedict's College turns 150
The roots of the origin of St Benedict's College, Colombo 13 takes us
far back to 1837 when Sir Robert Wilmot Horton helped Vicar Apostolic of
Ceylon with a donation of 50 British
pounds for the formation of the
first Catholic English School in the island.
In May 1839, the Roman Catholic Seminary, the school that was
destined to become St. Benedict's College was opened in Wolfendhal
Street by its Patron, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Vincente de Rosario, Bishop of
Tamocene and Vicar Apostolic of Colombo.
The Seminary, as the school was then called, was for superior English
St. Benedict's College was moved to its present site in 1865 when the
Sylvestro- Benedictine monks planned the buildings of the College in the
style of an Italian Benedictine Monastery. Rev Sillani, Vicar Apostolic
of Colombo was the pioneer behind this effort.
Kennedy Michael and Rev.
Bro. Janaka Fonseka, Director, St.Benedict's College unveil the
sesquicentennial logo during a press briefing at the Ramada
He called upon the Superior General of the Brothers in Paris to
invite Brothers of Italian, Spanish or English origin to take charge of
St. Benedicts College which was politely turned down due to lack of
Brothers. However, three Brothers - Hidulphus, Ulfin Daniel and
Hermelard Leo who were on their way to France from Mangalore landed in
Galle and Sillani coaxed them to take charge of the College.
Brother Hidulphus became the Director of the Community of three
Brothers and Headmaster of the College.
In 1868, Bro. Modeste Marie, a German La Sallian missionary with
considerable teaching experience in Singapore and Pondicheri was
recruited as the first Bro. Director of St. Benedict's College. He
lifted the standard of education to new heights.
When the school was inspected by the officer administering the Ceylon
Government and a team of officials from the Central School Commission,
General Hodgson who took a prominent part of the inspection said that
"native boys of the third and fourth classes knew, what nine Englishmen
out of ten did not know, the distinction between 'shall' and 'will',"
which was reported in the 'Examiner' newspaper.
St. Benedict's College managed by the La Sallians Brothers, the
leading teaching order in the Catholic Church, has an outstanding record
having produced some of the finest gentlemen of this country. The
College has, over the years, improved her infrastructure to include
modern buildings whilst retaining the signature buildings of yore.
The College is headed by Rev. Bro. Janaka Fonseka, FSC (an old boy of
this great institution). The College provides education to around 2,500
students with a staff of around 200 qualified and trained teachers and
support staff. Students are enrolled from Grade 1 to Grade 13 with the
local syllabus in English, Sinhala and Tamil.
The London A/L syllabus is also available for the Advanced Level
students in various streams. The College has performed exceptionally
well in the recent Grade 5 Scholarship, GCE Ordinary Level and GCE
Advanced Level examinations.
The College maintains a high conduct of academic activities alongside
sports and other extr-curricular activities. The school is regarded to
be one of the best Catholic schools in Sri Lanka and is renowned for its
The Primary is situated apart from the College section, headed by
Rev.Bro.Benedict Bonaventure FSC, enabling the young, budding
Benedictines to enjoy a serene environment to carry out their studies,
play and socializing. The 60-member strong staff provides education to
around 1000 students in fields of academy, sports arts and music.
Over the years, St. Benedict's College has been in the forefront of
sport in the island, especially in Hockey, Soccer and Basketball. The
school has been pioneers and front-runners of many sporting activities
throughout the decades and has produced many national players and
coaches and administrators.
The College was the first ever school to introduce Rugby to the
School sector in the whole country. The students of St. Benedict's
College have the facilities to develop their athletic and sporting
skills in Athletics, Football, Rugby, Basketball, Gymnastics, Swimming,
Cricket, Hockey and Tennis.
The College has a fully equipped Gymnasium to address the fitness
issues of all sportsmen. There's also a fully equipped Sports Hostel to
provide accommodation for sportsmen who come to Colombo from far, for
sporting events. The College grounds is at Bloemendhal Road, which
consists of Cricket pitches and turf, and has the ability to stage
Rugby, Football, Hockey and Athletic events.
The College has two Basketball courts, of which one could be used for
night games, a gymnasium for gymnastics and acrobatics training and a
state-of-the-art swimming pool with seated viewing facilities for over
The College has produced some of the finest gentlemen of this
country, many of whom have adorned positions of high office both here
and overseas with humility, equality and fair play, qualities that have
been instilled in them through this institution, always keeping in mind
the message conveyed in one verse of the College anthem: "True to our
God and true to all man, Follow we ever life's holy plan! Doing the duty
that is to do, bearing the cross with the crown in view"