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St. Mary’s Church, Negombo, Sri Lanka, Negombo Overview

St. Mary’s Church is one of the largest cathedrals in Sri Lanka, located in the heart of Negombo. Even though Negombo is a multi-religious city, the majority of the people are Roman Catholics.

St. Mary’s Church, also known as the ‘Maha Veediya Palliya’ seems to rise above other buildings in Negombo which is also known as ‘Little Rome’ due to its numerous churches and Portuguese - Dutch influence. The Church stands as a mesmerizing building with cream yellow walls and black and white marble detail.

Locals people and tourists can all join in the morning prayers that take place below the beautifully decorated ceiling of the Church and enjoy the light that comes through the stained glass windows.

This 140-year-old Church is famously known for one painting of Christ that was painted by N.S. Godamanne, who was a Buddhist painter. The thought of Buddhist art for a Church is what makes this Church stand out from the rest. The Church is also known for its magnificent church organ and stained glass windows. Today, the Church has over 3000 members headed by five priests.

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Architecture of St. Mary’s Church

The architectural design of the Church fascinates everyone, and its large colourful doors, beautiful sculptures and intricate paintings will leave you speechless. One of the alters in the Church where offerings are made, has been imported from Europe.

The inside walls have alabaster images of many saints. The Church is built in a way that draws architectural inspiration from the neoclassical movement. The inside of the grand Church has several statuettes and ceiling paintings. There are magnificent gold and red statues of angels.

History of St. Mary’s Church

The construction of St. Mary’s Church started in the 1870s and wasn’t completed before mid-1920s. The Portuguese had taken over the country in 1505, and the Catholic faith spread due to their influence. However, when the Dutch took over in the middle of the seventeenth century, all churches and Catholic schools were shut down. People were punished if they harboured priests and were strictly forbidden to do so.

The Catholic faith was restored, churches and schools were reopened when the British took over in 1796. It was then when people were free to follow any religion. Soon after, many churches and cathedrals were made in Sri Lanka, St. Mary’s Church is one of the largest.

Tips while visiting St. Mary’s Church

Photography is strictly prohibited in the Church; however, you can take photos of the building from outside. You are not allowed to take pictures of the people praying or any other activities inside the church walls. The Church may be crowded or occupied due to local weddings taking place. If the guests wish to witness the early morning prayers, they are advised to visit around 7 - 8 AM.

How To Reach St. Mary’s Church

Located in the heart of Negombo, the Church is about 6 kilometres from Katunayake Airport. It is also easily accessible by the Colombo - Chillaw - Puttalam road. It is on Grand Street in Negombo. The tourists can easily take a Tuk-Tuk ride to the Church.

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