March 2019

During The Season Of Lent At Maggona And Hiniduma
March 2019

Hiniduma Calvary Shrine is one of the religious sites that devotees pay homage to during the Season of Lent

Devotion. Incredible faith. Unwavering determination. Adorned with these virtues, the rugged paths of Maggona and Hiniduma are a remaking of the journey made to the Calvary thousands of years ago. During the Season of Lent, the surroundings of the Maggona and Hiniduma Calvary shrines in Sri Lanka are awakened by streams of pilgrims filled with fervour. From dawn till dusk, believers observe the Way of the Cross (also known as the Way 

of Sorrows), the journey Jesus made to deliver salvation and redemption to all.

Words: Jennifer Paldano Gunewardene

Photography: Menaka Aravinda


Maggona Calvary

Arching branches concealed the rays of the sun along the path to the Maggona Calvary in Kalutara District. There was a fascinating force compelling the environs, accentuated by the quietness at the summit.

Many believed that the hill near St. Vincent's Home in Maggona evoked a symbolic image of Mount Calvary in Jerusalem. Hence, while gazing from St. Vincent's Home, Father Isidore Belle, Superior from 1899-1906, visualised a Calvary Shrine at the peak. It was painstakingly established by Brother Gonzal, who despite limited funds persevered with faith. Thus, with 1,500 rupees donated by the Baratha community in Colombo, the oldest Calvary shrine in Sri Lanka was consecrated in September 1900. Today, this National Shrine is visited by at least 10,000 pilgrims during the weekends in Lent.

The crucifixion statue at the summit is historic, one of four statues that were sent out from Rome to four corners of the world, which was gifted to Father Belle in 1905.

On Good Friday, a lifelike figure of Jesus, a marionette, is used to enact the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Those involved in the drama experience spiritual renewal through confession and prayer. On Maundy Thursday, the figure of Jesus is fixed to the cross in a ceremony held with great piety. The statue is unveiled on Good Friday. As the seven sentences spoken by Jesus from the cross are uttered, the lifelike marionette of Jesus shows the pain and emotion the Saviour went through before breathing His last. Later, this statue is brought back in procession to the church of St. Vincent De Paul and is placed in a glass box until the next Season of Lent. It was indeed a surreal experience to see this statue, the bruised and tormented body of the Saviour brought to life by an artist.

Maggona Lenten Schedule

Way of the Cross
(March 6 - April 13)
Saturday and Sunday - 8:30am
(Holy Mass at the open shrine/
altar at 12:30pm)

The weekend Lenten programme will be held until Saturday, April 13, 2019

Holy Week
Palm Sunday (April 14)
7:30am - Holy Mass
at the open altar
Maundy Thursday (April 18) 6:30pm - Holy Mass and Holy Hour at the Church of
St Vincent de Paul
Good Friday (April 19)
9am - Way of the Cross
2pm - Drama by children of
Vincent's Home
3pm - Good Friday Service and Celebration of the Passion of the Lord
Holy Saturday (April 20)
6:30pm - Easter Vigil
Easter Sunday (April 21)
7am - Easter Mass

Hiniduma Calvary Shrine

Hiniduma, "the village with light mist", abounds in mountains, tea gardens and rustic surroundings. The drive along the flourishing surrounding in Galle is soothing and peaceful.

The Calvary Shrine in Hiniduma, a later addition to the 125-year-old Church of St Anne, lies across the Ging Ganga. The Cross rises from the summit, the mountain seamlessly blending with the surroundings. The Hiniduma Calvary Shrine is visited by up to 20,000 pilgrims during the Lenten weekends alone.

Marking 70 years, the story of the shrine began with destruction, but ended in victory, similar to the story of the Cross. A fire in 1948 had destroyed the greenery overlooking the church, leaving only a solitary burnt tree trunk on the ground. This sight inspired Father Cyril Wickremasinghe to establish a shrine to remember the Way of the Cross, and since, this path has been walked by many worshippers atoning and commemorating the ‘Salvation of Mankind'.

As we made our way along the path with jagged rocks towards the Calvary Shrine at the summit, we were immersed in the peace and quietude of the surroundings. The path was being prepared in lieu of the Lenten Season, while the statues at the Stations of the Cross were being repainted. Parishioners had volunteered their time with great devotion.

Accommodation for 3,000 pilgrims have been allocated in rooms and dormitories. Devotees can cook food in an outdoor kitchen and a restaurant also serves the thousands who visit.

Standing at the site of the cross at 900m where the light mist gathered, it was a moment of spiritual reflection. Hiniduma was truly reminiscent of the salvation on Mount Calvary; it is a place where worshippers can reflect in meditation.

Hiniduma Lenten Schedule

Way of the Cross
(March 6 - April 13)
Thursday - 3pm
Friday and Saturday -
6am, 7am, 9am, 11am and 2pm
(Holy Mass will be celebrated at the 12th Station) / (Holy Hour with Eucharistic Adoration at 7:30pm)

Sunday and Public Holiday - 6am, 7am and 10am. The daily Lenten programme will continue until Wednesday April 17, 2019

Holy Week
Palm Sunday (April 14)
7am - Holy Mass presided over by the Bishop of Galle
Maundy Thursday (April 18)
5pm - Holy Mass and adoration of
the Blessed Eucharist till
Good Friday (April 19)
2pm - Way of the Cross followed
by the Passion of the Lord
presided over by the
Bishop of Galle
Holy Saturday (April 20)
11:30pm - Easter Vigil
Easter Sunday (April 21) 8:30am - Easter Mass

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    Beneath these leafy branches, countless pilgrims have venerated these statues that remind them of a man's journey for salvation

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    The church of St Anne, Hiniduma

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    Moments of spiritual reflection at the summit blends with the serenity of the environs

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