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Sunday, 26 July 2015

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Free grant from China Harbour Corp to redevelop Tewatte Church

The China Harbour Engineering Company, contractor for both the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota harbour projects, has offered a free grant to develop and conserve the Roman Catholic Basilica in Tewatte, Ragama. This is in response to a request of Public Order and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga.

The renovation will cost approximately Rs. 300 million and the program will be fully funded by the company on behalf of the Chinese government, as a goodwill gesture. The renovation work will start within a week.

The origins of the shrine date back to the beginning of the 20th century, when a little shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes was erected by a few Catholic laymen and clergy in 1911, the area being then a part of the Ragama parish. The Chapel was later enlarged to accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims, and in the 1930s a large Grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes was built. The idea of a Basilica was conceived to fulfil a vow invoking the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Sri Lanka during World War II. The vow was made on May 26, 1940 by the then Archbishop of Colombo, Jean-Marie Masson who prayed that if Sri Lanka was spared the ravages of World War II, a Basilica would be built and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

 

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