Thousands of Catholics gathered Aug. 15 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in Mannar Diocese, northern Sri Lanka for the final day of celebrations that were part of a weeklong annual feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Both Tamil and Sinhalese Catholics participated in events at the shrine, which was shelled many times during the country's decades-long civil war that ended in 2009. In 1999, the shrine was shelled, killing 44 Tamils.
The feast's high Mass was presided by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Bishop Kingsley Swamipillai, apostolic administrator of Mannar, Bishop Raymond Wickramasinghe of Galle, Bishop Vianney Fernando of Kandy and Bishop Norbert Andradi of Anuradhapura.
The shrine, which is considered the holiest Catholic shrine in the country, used to be a major pilgrimage destination and place of worship for Sri Lankan Catholics.
Pope Francis also visited Madhu shrine when he went to Sri Lanka in 2015.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary feast Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo and other bishops at the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu. (ucanews.com photo)