UCA News

Sri Lanka

Cardinal Ranjith plans vow to save Sri Lanka from virus

After the country reports its first Covid-19 death, the archbishop of Colombo seeks Mother Mary's help

UCA News reporter, Colombo

UCA News reporter, Colombo

Updated: March 31, 2020 12:53 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Cardinal Ranjith plans vow to save Sri Lanka from virus

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith will hold televised prayers and make a special vow to Our Lady of Lanka at the National Basilica in Tewatta, Ragama, on April 3. (Photo: Ishara Kodikara/AFP)

Share this article :
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has promised the faithful that he will make a vow to Mother Mary to save Sri Lanka from coronavirus.

"I will be making a special vow to Our Lady of Lanka (Mother Mary) to protect our country from coronavirus at 11am on April 3," said Cardinal Ranjith after a televised Mass on March 29.

"So, when your church rings the bell at 11am, you as a family go to the sacred place of your home where you have your daily prayers and silently pray to join with me in that moment."

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka had called on all Catholics to observe a day of fasting and prayer on March 22 to protect and heal all people in all countries and to rid the world of this devastating virus.

Cardinal Ranjith, who is the archbishop of Colombo, said all churches will ring their bells at 11am that day. He will hold televised prayers and make a special vow to Our Lady of Lanka at the National Basilica in Tewatta, Ragama.

“We pray that the Blessed Mother will help us to get over these problems of the coronavirus, not only in our country but also the whole world," the cardinal said.

At the start of World War II, Oblate Archbishop Jean Marie Masson, the last Frenchman to be metropolitan of the country, made a vow to build a National Basilica shrine in honor of Our Lady in Tewatta if the country was spared from the ravages of war. Cardinal Thomas Benjamin Cooray kept the vow and built the beautiful National Basilica.

Mary Cicilia, whose son has been working in Verona in virus-stricken Italy, said families would join Cardinal Ranjith in his vow.

"Our families are suffering from the worst tragedy and we live with fear in our day-to-day lives when we hear the news from Italy. We all pray to God," said Cicilia, 58, a member of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Negombo.

The Sri Lanka Air Force has built a 15-room facility to keep suspected coronavirus patients under observation. The army operates 45 quarantine centers. Nearly 3,500 people including 31 foreigners have been under quarantine.

Caritas Sethsarana, the social arm of the Catholic Church in Colombo Archdiocese, is distributing dry ration parcels among needy families during curfew time.

Sri Lanka reported its first Covid-19 death on March 28, with confirmed cases standing at 117 on March 30.

Six districts have been identified as high-risk areas, so a curfew will continue until further notice. The country's airports are closed for arrivals of flights until April 7.

The Church canceled public Masses and other services from March 15 because of a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases. The decision came in the middle of the Lenten season that features common gatherings such as the Way of the Cross, Lenten pilgrimages, group prayer services, Holy Hour and passion plays.

Cardinal Ranjith announced that Holy Week services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday will be closed to the public but will be broadcast on radio and television.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."