Ragama’s Tewatta Church – Basilica of Our Lady
The National Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka, also known as the Tewatte Basilica, is located near Ragama, about 18 kilometers from Colombo.
It all started almost a century ago, with the construction of a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes in 1911 and a grotto six years later.
However, it was only in 1942 that this Roman Catholic Church was elevated to the status of National Basilica, after then-Archbishop Jean Marie Masson went to the grotto at Our Lady of Lourdes chapel and asked for a miracle.
The fact that this island was spared the horrors of World War II was a miracle.
He made a pledge to build a Basilica in honor of Mother Mary.
His successor, Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Thomas Cooray, completed the commitment in 1947, when his prayers were answered – though he did not live to see it – by commencing on a sacred mission that took nearly 27 years to complete.
Now, 44 years later, a new Our Lady of Lourdes grotto and chapel has been built and blessed on February 3, 2018, a day before the Feast of Our Lady of Lanka, which coincides with Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence Day.
The chapel and grotto were inspired by the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.
It is similar to the Rosa Mystica Church in Lucas do Rio Verde, Brazil, which was likewise built with a stream nearby for the faithful to cross after confession and has confessionals for devotees to make their confessions as well as cross the stream in a symbolic act of cleansing.
Praise and worship, as well as holy Mass, will be held on the first Saturday of each month, at the request of Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who envisioned the chapel and grotto’s construction.
It will be followed by a candlelight parade and rosary recitation.
Tewatte’s Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel is a haven of quiet, thought, and devotion.