Dedication of the Cathedral
Time Line leading up to the Great Day
The Great Day and after


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St Lucia's Day Celebrations

10th December is a memorable day for us.
The day is be celebrated with special prayer
and activities that bring the community
together. A day to remember, a day to rejoice. Its a day that renews our spirit and binds us together in harmony.

Last updated: 05 June, 2008
Time Line leading up to the Great Day
1779 The Catholics of Colombo had selected the hill of Kotahena to be the centre of their religious worship. The date of the first acquisition is not recorded but on April 1779, the Dutch government granted ten acres of land, where a small church built of wood and roofed with cadjan had existed from ‘very remote times.’
1782 The Catholics of Kotahena began the construction of
the first church of brick and mortar. Fr. Cosmo Antonio took a leading part in the building of this church.
1976 When the British and Dutch soldiers were encamped
on the two sides of the Kelani river, and a battle seemed imminent, the people of the Colombo side fled for shelter to St. Lucia’s Cathedral.
1820 Kotahena became the headquarters of the Oratorian Fathers. Its church was the principal church of Colombo and of Ceylon.
1836 The mortal remains of Fr. Monteiro c’e Setuvel, one of the first missionaries in Ceylon were given to the Catholic authorities. It was brought in a procession
and interred in St. Lucia’s Church.
1837 On 14 January, the Most Rev. Vincente de Rozario, an Oratorian from Goa was formally installed as the first Vicar Apostolic of Ceylon.
1846 On 11 February, the ceremony for the consecration of
a Bishop, took place for the first time at St Lucia’s Cathedral.
1857 The Papal Rescript of this year, confirmed St. Lucia’s Church to be the Cathedral Church of the Vicariate of Colombo.
1863 In September, the Rt. Rev. Hilarion Sillani OSB was named Vicar Apostolic of Colombo, while Bishop
Bonjean OMI was the Vicar Apostolic of Jaffna. This was referred to as the golden age of the Church in Ceylon.
1868 An English school of boys was an urgent need in the
city of Colombo. The Christian Brothers of De La Salle took over the direction of St. Benedicts College
on 23 April.
1872 On 8 September, Bishop Sillani called a meeting of the priests and lay leaders of the city to initiate plans for building a new Cathedral to replace the one in danger of collapse. Plans were drawn up to collect the necessary funds.
1873 The feast of the assumption held this year was a farewell demonstration to the the old Cathedral.
On August 18, the work of dismantling the old church began. St. Benedicts College was converted into a public chapel to serve the Catholics of Kotahena.
Fr. S. Tabarrani was entrusted with the work of designing and supervising of the building of the
new church.
1877 Work on the new Cathedral had to be suspended for lack of funds.
1878 News reached Colombo that Bishop Sillani had died in Rome.
1880 Fr. Tabarrani left Ceylon for Rome. He passed away in 1882. In May Fr. Bonifiglio Baldoni, OSB, took charge of the building, and by the end of August, the four arches were completed.
1881 The work on the arches was followed by the work on the vault of the nave. On 19 May, “at 11.00, the last keystone was driven in place.”
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