The historic Roman Catholic church, Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in Mannar district has been declared as a Sacred Area. President Maithripala Sirisena presented the ‘Sannas Pathraya’ declaring the Our Lady of Madhu Church in the Mannar District as a sacred area to the Bishop of Mannar, Right Reverend Dr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel Fernando at the Presidential Secretariat on Tuesday.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu is a much respected sacred place for the Catholics as well as for Buddhists and Hindus who flock to the holy shrine to pay homage. Thousands of local pilgrims and many local and foreign tourists visit the 400 year old shrine during the annual Madhu feast, as well as all year around. Due to the severe damages caused by the war and the long absence of maintenance or restoration work, the surrounding area has become decrepit and thousands of devotees making pilgrimage to the Shrine face hardship due to lack of facilities.
President Maithripala Sirisena who visited the Madhu Church in July last year, paying attention to the need to develop the Church and the surrounding area proposed to proclaim the areas as a sacred area and develop transportation facilities, roads, sanitation, water supply facilities etc., and provide accommodation facilities to the pilgrims and visitors to the Church.
The cabinet in August 2018 approved the President’s proposal to declare the Madhu Church as a Sacred Area.
Accordingly, special development projects are being implemented including the development of transport and road facilities in the area, improvement of water drainage systems and sanitation facilities as well as special facilities such as lodging and rest houses for the people visiting the sacred area.
Through the Gazette Notification for the declaration of the historic Madhu Church as a sacred area, 300 acres of land in the area has been allocated for the construction of buildings needed for the religious activities of the Church. In addition, 5000 acres of land has been reserved as protected area along with forest conservation.
Addressing the gathering, President Maithripala Sirisena said he was happy to see that the historic Madhu shrine, which has been a most revered place for all the people, was declared as a sacred area officially during his tenure. Catholic priests including Bishop of Mannar, Father Fidelis Lionel Emanuel Fernando and Minister of Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga were present at the occasion.