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St Anthony s Church Kochikade Colombo - Srilanka

In Sri Lanka St. Anthony has many devotees and several Churches have been erected in his honor. Perhaps the most popular one that daily attracts people of every cast, creed or race is the one at Kochchikade, in the heart of the city of Colombo.

One has only to visit this church on any Tuesday of the year, to see the thousands from North, South, East & West who come to pray to St. Anthony, to ask his help for some need, to fulfill promisses made, to thank him for answering their prayers and show their love and respect.

The history of this church at Kochchikade as handed down by tradition and gleaned from the documents preserved in the Archdiocesan Archives in Colombo is as follows;

In the 18th Century, Catholicism was still a proscribed religion in Sri Lanka and priests could not exercise their ministry in public. The Dutch were persecuting the Catholics but who preferred to be degraded, impoverished and ridiculed rather than give up their Faith; Shrines such as Madhu, Talawila and Kochchikade are souvenirs of those dark days of the persecution. (S.G. Per era, S J Historical Sketches page 14) A few Orations from Goa, visited the faithful in Ceylon at the risk at their lives. Fr. Jacome Gonsalves the Superior of Orations who is affectionately remembered in Ceylon as the ‘father of Sinhala Catholic Literature, lamented the fact the Catholics of Colombo had no resident priest. However a zealous priest, Fr. Antonio, disguised as a merchant took up his abode in a house in Maliban Street, Colombo, close to St. Philip Neris Church. (The old Church faced the road) The Dutch discovered his hiding place, but Fr. Antonio, disguised, fled towards Mutwal. He met some fishermen who knew him and his reputation for Sanctity, and volunteered to protect him from the Dutch, provided he obtained from God the favor they wanted, namely the stoppage of Sea erosion. When the pursuers arrived, the fishermen refused to hand over Fr. Antonio until he had granted them the favor they were asking for. Fr. Antonio then returned to his home at Maliban Street, and came to the shoe, clad in his priestly garments and with a large wooden Cross in his hand. Planting the Cross at the spot most threatened by the advancing Sea, he prayed to God to manifest His Glory, by working this miracle. On the third day the waves receded and an extensive sand bank was exposed to the view of all.