'Our Lady of Madhu' returns home (Updated)
The most venerated statue of 'Our Lady of
The sacred statue of 'Our Lady of Madhu' was brought
Tuesday, at 11.10a.m., into the liberated area, across the Omanthai
Entry/Exit point following consistent appeals made by the Catholic
community, all Sri Lankans and the international community for its
immediate release from the clutches of LTTE.
The statue was brought in an ambulance (WP LW-O276) by
Rev. Peter Arulnadan, also accompanied by Father Sathyapillai
Emaliyanuspillai, and Sister Idha Thomas who have reportedly arrived at
the Mannar Bishop's House this evening after leaving the
Entry/Exit at around 11.25a.m., our defence correspondent at Omanthai
The highly venerated statue of our Lady of Madhu was
taken to Thevanpiddi area located 70 kilometers Northwest of Madhu in
the non-liberated zone by the priests and sisters of the church as
ordered by the LTTE on 3rd April.
LTTE terrorists almost turned the Madhu shrine into a
terror base by positioning its heavy guns around the church and using it
as a barrack for its cadres, before the shrine was liberated by SLA
troops beating off the occupying LTTE terrorists on 25th April.
The centuries old 'Our Lady of Madhu' is held sacred
and respected by all Sri Lankans irrespective of religion and ethnicity.
Thousands of pilgrims used to visit the shrine, especially during the
annual 10 day church feast on August, before the terrorists took control
of the area in 1999.
The earnest belief of Catholics and many peace loving
people have paid off a defence official said, further adding that the
holy statue is to be placed back in its original position at the Madhu
shrine once the renovations of the LTTE-damaged buildings are completed.
The Sri Lanka Army has undertaken repairs and renovations which cost
around Rs 1.5 million following a directive given by Commander of the
Army Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, Army said.
Meanwhile, in a communiqué released later this evening
the Bishop of Mannar, most Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph asserted that, the
sacred statue will be taken back to its original abode Madhu, when the
situation becomes conducive after due potential services according to
the tradition and practice of the Catholic Church.