St. Anthony's Shrine (Kochchikade)

St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade
St. Anthony's Shrine at Kochchikade, also known as Kochchikade Palliya (Sinhala: කොච්චිකඩේ පල්ලිය), is a popular Catholic church in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. Many people, both Christian and non-Christian, visit this shrine, particularly at the times of the annual feasts.

The church was built during the colonial period as a place of worship for the catholic devotees who lived in the Colombo area (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). It is said that during the Dutch period (Dutch Ceylon: 1658 - 1796) the catholic religion had been proscribed in the territories held by Dutch and therefore, worshipping Catholicism had become a difficult thing. However, harassment faced by Catholics conduced the then-Dutch governor Willem Maurits Bruyninck (1739-1742) to allocate a plot of land (where the present church stands) for building a shrine for Catholics. On the received land, a small chapel was built by Fr. Kaithano Antonio (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

The miraculous statue of St. Anthony which is venerated today in the church has been brought in 1822, from Goa, India (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). Devotees believe that this statue has supernatural powers which can relieve them from their problems. Presently, it has been installed in an arch-shaped glass case.

Some believe that St. Anthony's Shrine at Kochchikade is standing on a site previously dedicated to Goddess Pattini (Stirrat, 1982).

The building
The front facade of the building shows the typical church architecture. The line of arch-shaped entrances, the square towers and decorated walls have increased the beauty of the facade. The doors and windows have been made following the Gothic style (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

2019 bomb attack
On 21 April 2019 (Easter Sunday), an Islamic suicide bomber exploded himself inside the church building during the Easter service. On the same day, another two churches (St. Sebastian's Church, Batticaloa Zion Church) and three luxury hotels (Shangri-La Colombo, The Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand) were targeted in a series of coordinated terrorist suicide bombings. The attacks were carried out by Islamic suicide bombers who are believed to be associated with National Thowheeth Jama'ath, a local Islamic group with suspected foreign ties. More than 250 people were killed, including 40 foreign nationals (News reports from BBC: 22 April 2019 and 11 May 2019).

1) St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade by AntanO is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

1) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. p.43.
2) Stirrat, R.L., 1982. Shrines, Pilgrimage and Miraculous Powers in Roman Catholic Sri Lanka. Studies in Church History, 19, p.391.

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This page was last updated on 23 August 2023

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