As you may already know, Sri Lanka is a small country with a multicultural society. Hence, this island is rich with many wonderful and important religious and cultural attractions. They belong to several religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, and Islam. Among them, St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade is one of the most reputed and holiest churches in Sri Lanka.
It is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the great St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of sailors, fishermen, and travelers; the elderly, the oppressed and pregnant women; harvests and horses and swineherds; and the seekers of things lost. This majestic church is in the Archdiocese of Colombo and is well-known as one of the most popular churches in Sri Lanka.
Catholics believe that this place is a miraculous shrine, so they visit the church to pray and get the blessings of the Saint. However, people of the other faiths also visit the church as it is a national shrine. Thus, this church remains significant among the iconic religious places in Sri Lanka.
History of St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade
There’s an interesting historical story behind the majestic walls of St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade. The Dutch built this church during the colonial era. During the Dutch colonial period, the authorities banned Catholicism in Sri Lanka. As a result, Catholic priests observed their religion in seclusion. Fr. Antonio, a catholic priest, disguised himself as a local merchant and hid in an area called Mutwal. In this fishing village, he helped the villagers to stop the sea from eroding by placing a cross and praying on the beach. The Dutch authorities appreciated his acts and allocated him land for his religious purposes. Fr. Antonio built a shrine there and later his body was also buried there.
Fr. Antonio built this small church in honor of St. Anthony of Padua. In 1806, the church was enlarged, and completed all its constructions by 1822. In that year, a member of the Congregation brought a statue of St. Anthony to the church from Goa. However, due to the increasing popularity of this religious place, the church was again enlarged in 1828. As such, there were several refurbishments in the church over the years. It was consecrated on the 16th of February 1940. The church has stood in its glory up to date for almost two centuries now.
Significance of the St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade
As one of the oldest churches in Sri Lanka, St Anthony’s Church is a very important religious place in Sri Lanka. One of the most important facts about this church is that there is a special reliquary that contains a small preserved piece of St. Anthony’s tongue. This reliquary along with St. Anthony’s statue is kept at the entrance to the church.
Moreover, devotees believe that this St. Anthony statue is miraculous. Devotees touch the glass-covered statue to invoke the blessings of St. Anthony. Especially, there’s a tradition among Catholics to pray to St. Anthony when they lose something.
Above all, St. Anthony’s Church is one of the most visited churches for both Catholics and Christians. Apart from that, the church is a very eye-catching structure. It holds the shades of neoclassical architecture. This renowned church is also a place of harmony for all Sri Lankans alike. Owing to all these reasons, the St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade attracts hundreds of visitors every day and remains significant.
Location of the Church
The St. Anthony’s Church is in the suburbs of Colombo, the main commercial city of Sri Lanka. To be exact, it is located at Kochchikade, Kotahena, Colombo 13. It is a very easy-to-find location in Colombo. You can easily reach the church by taking a tuk-tuk or a taxi from the Kotahena bus stand. You can also walk the short distance to the church from there.
Easter Sunday Attack
St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade became a victim of one of the most unfortunate days that Sri Lanka ever faced. On the 21st of April 2019, over 310 innocent people were killed by a terrorist attack in 8 locations in the country. Three churches in Sri Lanka were bombed on Easter Sunday. St. Anthony’s church is also one such location that faced the worst of the tragedy.
The bomb blast happened when the Easter mass was going on inside the church. Owing to this reason, the church had a larger crowd than usual. Hence, the number of casualties also increased. Sri Lankans were unfortunate to witness a deadly attack in a place that is like a symbol of peace. However, with the assistance of the three forces and all Sri Lankans, the nation got the ability to restore and reopen the church after 53 days of the attack.
The Bottom Line
During your Sri Lankan tour, don’t forget to pay a visit to this majestic church situated at the heart of Colombo town. However, it is on Tuesdays that most devotees visit this church to get the blessings of St. Anthony. However, in the present day, the St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade is a symbol of love and peace for Sri Lanka. The church stands in its glory, now stronger than ever. No matter what your faith or religion is, you are welcome to visit the church and feel the blessings and the peace for yourself. Happy and safe traveling!