Dates of Importance
 
1505 Arrival of the Portuguese to the island. First Mass on Ceylon soil celebrated by a Portuguese Franciscan Frey Vicente.
1518 A Franciscan appointed permanent Chaplain to the Portuguese Garrison
1543

Arrival of the first group of Franciscan Missionaries to the island

1544

Six hundred 'martyrs of Mannar' put to death for the Faith; first visit of St. Francis Xavier to Ceylon (also in 1545 and probably in 1548)

1557

Goa made a Archbishopric; Ceylon placed under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Diocese of Cochin. India

1602

Arrival of the first Jesuit Missionaries

1605

Arrival of the first Dominicans

1606

Arrival of the first Augustinians

1658

Dutch take Ceylon from the Portuguese

1687

Secret arrival of Blessed Father Joseph Vaz in Mannar

1711

Father Vaz dies at Kandy on January 16

1796

Arrival of British to the island

1806

British proclaim freedom of worship for all faiths

1842

Father Orazio Bettacchini, an Italian Oratorian, arrives in Ceylon – the first European Missionary since Dutch occupation

1845

Father Bettacchini appointed Coadjutor to the Vicar Apostolic

1847

Ceylon divided into two Vicariates Apostolic with Headquarters at Colombo and Jaffna

1848

Oblates of Mary Immaculate begin their work in Jaffna

1862

The Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux come to cylon, the first Sisters to arrive in Ceylon

1869

The God Shepherd Sisters arrive in Colombo and begin their work in Schools

 

The Denominational system of schools sanctioned by the Government through the efforts of Father Christopher Bonjean O.M.I

1874

Death of Father Matthes Caetano, the last of Father Vaz' Oratorian Fathers of St. Philip Neri

1883

Kandy erected as a third Vicariate

1886

Establishment of a Hierarchy in Ceylon; the three Vicariates Apostolic become Dioceses

1893

Establishment of the Papal Seminary at Kandy. Galle and Tincomalee become Dioceses

1899

The Bishops of Ceylon's five Dioceses (Archbishop Andre Melizan, O.M.I.) and Bishops Clemens Pagnani osb, Charles Lavigne sj, H. Joulain O. M. I., J.Van Reeth sj, and A. Coudert O.M.I. (coadjutor of Colombo) form a Conference of Bishops for Ceylon and have their first meeting on 3.10.1899, at which the Bishops agreed on the Rules (19) for the conduct of the Meetings of the Conference

1903

Most Rev. Bishop of Galle, J. Van Reeth sj initiate the First Sri Lankan Religious Congregation "Sisters of the Holy Angels". Rev. Sister Mary Aloysious was the First member

1939

The Diocese of Chilaw erected; Ceylon now divided into six Dioceses

1940

First Sinhalese ordained as Bishop of Chilaw (Most Rev. Edmund Peiris, O.M.I.)

1946

First Sinhalese named as Archbishop of Colombo (Thomas Benjamin Cooray, O.M.I.)

1947

British Parliament passed the Ceylon Independence Act in November

1948

June 11, By Apostolic Brief Pope Pius XII establishes Mary Immaculate known as Our Lady of Lanka as "Principal Patroness of the whole Island of Ceylon"

1951

February 4, Cornerstone laid for the Votive Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka – to fulfill the vow made by Archbishop Cooray's predecessor, Mgr. Jean Marie Masson, on 26 May 1940, that if Ceylon is preserved from ' the horrors of World War II, in her honour at Tewatta, Ragama

1954

Aquinas University College opens in the premises of St. Joseph's College

1955

Papal Seminary of Kandy transferred to India, Poona. National Seminary of Our Lady of Lanka established in Ampitiya to serve Ceylon's six dioceses

1960

Denominational Schools taken over by the Government – Legislative Act of Parliament

1965

Archbishop Thomas Cooray O.M.I. nominated to the College of CARDINALS by Pope Paul VI

1968

National Pastoral Convention and Synod in Ceylon, which continues till 1969

1970

Holy Father Pope Paul VI visits Ceylon and celebrates Mass at the Katunayake Air Port premises

1973

Creation of the Diocese of Badulla with Bishop Leo Nanayakkara osb as its first Bishop (Province of Uva separated from the Diocese of Kandy)

1975

Creation of the Prefecture Apostolic of Anuradhapura

1981

Creation of the Diocese of MANNAR

1982

Creation of the Diocese of ANURADHAPURA

1987

Creation of the Diocese of KURUNEGALA

1988

October 29 Death of Cardinal Cooray, O. M. I

1995

Solemn Beatification of Father Joshep Vaz, by Pope John Paul II, on 21st of January


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