Lucia's Cathedral – Kotahena
St. Lucia's Cathedral is the pivotal centre of the Churches
in the Archdiocese. Situated in Kotahena once the hub of commercial
activity in the city, the silver dome of the Cathedral rises
high above the other buildings in the city. At the inauguration
of the Cathedral the then Archbishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Christopher
Bonjean summed up in his sermon on the 13th of December 1887
the efforts made by the community to express their love for
and trust in God to whom they had remained faithful even in
the face of persecution. "It will stand for years as
a silent but eloquent witness of what can be accomplished
by simple faith in the absence of all those helps of wealth
and influence, upon which all worldly undertakings rely for
success. It will tell generation after generation of the love
of their Church which is so remarkable a feature of the Catholic
Ceylonese of our day. For the work is essentially their very
own, every stone that enters into its composition has been
paid for and God alone knows at what cost and privations.
The Cathedral was the dream of Mgr. Sillani and the Catholic
community in the area, who commenced the demolition of the
old Church in 1873. The new Church was solemnly blessed and
opened to the public on the 8th of August 1881 by Mgr. Pagnani.
The building itself was however completed in stages, since
the concept needed a great deal of time and finances for construction.
The design for the Cathedral was by Rev. Fr. Tabarrani who
modelled it on the Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome –
the silver dome being one of its most significant features.
The Episcopal throne was installed in 1897, and it contained
the same intricate design as the altar rails. The marble altar
installed in 1893 has the relief of the Last Supper etched
on it with great detail given to the figures. Exquisite life
size statues of the Saints add greater dimension to the aisles
and the designed columns which are reminiscent of the Renaissance
architecture of Europe.
The statue of Saint Lucy patroness of the city of Colombo
is in the inner altar. Two twisted columns containing this
altar gives special depth to the statue, while a wooden panel
over it emphasises the faith of the community "Only say
the word and I shall be healed".
In 1888 Bishop Bonjean brought with him an authentic portion
of the bones of St. Lucy and these relics are yet preserved
in the Cathedral.
In 1995 the Cathedral had the privilege of welcoming His
Holiness Pope John II when he visited Sri Lanka for the beatification
of Joseph Vaz. A plaque commemorating this visit has been
placed in the main aisle.
The outer perimeter of the Cathedral yet has the gas lamp
posts which were first installed on the 24th of August 1889,
to illuminate the edifice.
The Cathedral with its shining silver dome, arches, columns
and immensity occupies pride of place in the Archdiocese echoing
the refrain that the love of God expressed by the people is
but the outcome of their supreme confidence in the Creator.