Vatican City, 8 February 2014 (VIS) – The Church in Sri Lanka was consecrated to the Virgin seventy-five years ago, and to mark this occasion, the faithful of the island have made a pilgrimage to Rome, where they were greeted this morning by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica. The Holy Father commented that shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, the archbishop of Colombo, Jean-Marie Masson, made a vow to build a shrine in honour of Our Lady if the island were preserved from foreign invasion. So it came about that after the end of the war the Shrine of Our Lady of Lanka at Tewatte was constructed.
“Our Lady is always close to us, she looks upon each one of us with maternal love and accompanies us always on our journey”, said the Pontiff. “Do not hesitate to turn to her for every need, especially when the burden of life with all its problems makes itself felt”.
“Your homeland is called the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, on account of its natural beauty and its shape”, he continued. “They say that the pearl is formed from the tears of the oyster. Unfortunately, many tears have been shed in recent years, on account of the internal conflict which caused so many victims and so much damage. It is not easy, I know, to heal the wounds and cooperate with yesterday’s enemy to build tomorrow together, but it is the only path that gives hope for the future, for development and for peace. For this reason, I assure you that you have a particular place in my prayer. I ask the Lord to grant you the gift of peace and reconciliation, and to help you in your effort to ensure a better future for all who live in Sri Lanka”.
The Pope concluded by entrusting the faithful to the maternal intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Lanka, and asked them to pray for him.