Madampe: St. Sebastian’s Church
This was a kingdom coming down from the time of King Weera Parakrama Bahu (1484- 1509), king of Kotte. (One of the 4 kingdoms of Sri Lanka at that time) One of his sons Thaniya Wallabha reigned this area residing in this city. (Today the area where his palace stood is called Maliga Kanda (=Palace Hillock), Mahawewa. He committed suicide at the tank of Thinipiti Oya, 2 kilometers north to his palace. There is a very popular shrine built in his memory called Thanivella Devalaya. He is regarded as a god of the area by Buddhists and Hindus.
During the Portuguese occupation, Jesuits came to serve the people in this area. They put up a church dedicated to Our Lady of Assumption in 1602 in close proximity to the Palace. That was the first church of Madampe . It had two other outstation churches, one at Marawila dedicated to St Xavier and the other at Katuneriya dedicated to St Ambrose. Fr. Emmanuel Barandos was the first quasi Parish Priest under Chilaw. The spot where that church stood is now known as Mattakotuwa, Mahawewa . During the Dutch persecution Bl. Joseph Vaz from Goa secretly came to Ceylon and served the Catholics of the area from 1690 giving masses at the churches belonging to Madampe parish.
During the reign of King Sri Vijaya Rajasingha (1745) there was a persecution of Christians led by a Buddhist monk called Welivita Saranankara. Madampe Church (at Mattakotuwa) was razed to the ground and Catholics fled to places of safety.
When the British conquered Ceylon in 1796 they gave religious freedom to all and encouraged the English education. Since the Oratorians of Bl. Joseph Vaz found it too difficult to switch over to English, European priests and Religious had to be invited to serve our educational institutions and churches. Thus in 1845, Madampe Parish was served by Fr. Froliano Orugna, a Spaniard Cistercian . In 1894 Madampe was separated from Chilaw. By this time Mattakotuwa had their own church closer to the sea.
In the mean time Madampe had shifted to the North of the Dutch canal and there was a very prominent Mudlier of Chilaw, Mr. A. Don Adrian Jayawardana , ( ancestor of Mr. J.R. Jayawardana, the late President) a big land owner residing there from 1808. He has donated a piece of land to the Madampe Parish. So they put upa new church on that bloc of land and dedicated it to St Sebastian on the 04th of February, 1883.
This church celebrated its 125th jubilee last year on a very grand way under the guidance of Rev. Fr. Kennedy Fernando the incumbent Parish Priest. Incidentally, he hails from Mattakotuwa, known as Madampe in good old days . I think it is a nice coincidence.
Fr.D.F.Medagoda, The Diocesan Archivist, Chilaw. 12.04.2009
Photo’s by Chamara Senarathne
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Photo taken in Madampe, Sri Lanka
Misplaced? Suggest new location