Anne's Shrine, Talawila.
St. Anne's Talawila, is one of the most ancient Christian
Shrines of Sri Lana. Its origin is convered in the midst of
tradition. There are two accounts of it, the most popular
of which says that a European trader, traveling in a ship
dedicated to St. Anne, was shipwrecked off the coast of Talawila
in the early half of the 18th century. As the place where
they managed to land was inhospitable, they were looking out
for a place of rest. They espied a large banyan tree at a
distance. Thither they went together with the statue of St.
Anne which they had in their possession. This image, they
deposited in the tree. The Master of the ship vowed to return
and build a church if his business prospered. The European
trader obviously met with success as he desired, and kept
his word by building a church at the place where the statue
of St. Anne had been deposited.
As the number of pilgrims from all parts of Sri Lanka flocking
to the Shrine kept on increasing, the necessity for a larger
church was felt. In 1837, the foundation for a new church
was laid by Padre Catean but the major part of the work was
left for Padre Neronha to complete. Both these Fathers were
Goans from the Oratory founded by Ven. Fr. Joseph Vaz the
Apostle of Sri Lanka. In the year 1848, the Shrine came under
the administration of the OMI Fathers. The Shrine owes much
of its spiritual and temporal progress to two great Oblates:
Fr. Theophilus Andrew Melizan (Later Bishop) and Mgr. Christopher
Bonjean (Later Archbishop of Colombo). Since 1939, the Shrine
has been administered by the Diocesan Clergy of the Chilaw
Diocese. Its first Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Edmund Peiris,
spared no pains to make the Shrine a radiating Centre of Catholic
spirituality not forgetful of material improvements to it.
The present Bishop of Chilaw, Rt. Rev. Dr. F. Marcus Fernando,
opened a convent of Rosarian Nuns at the Shrine.
The year 1988 witnessed further improvements to the Shrine.
During the major feasts, a team of priests attend to the spiritual
welfare of the pilgrims, Catechetical instructions, sermons,
religious services, and opportunities for Sacramental Confessions
are amply provided.
Dates of the Major Festivals:
7th and 10th March - Holy week.
The First Sunday of August.