St Mary’s Church
Christianity has existed in Sri Lanka from as early as the 16th century, with records showing that there were designated areas for Christians in the country’s ancient capital of Anuradhapura, as well as a chapel for Persian merchants in the 5th century. However, the spread of the religion is most apparent with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505.
A City of Churches
The city of Negombo in Sri Lanka is often called “Little Rome” due to its reputation for being the home of several churches, as well as for having a predominantly Roman-Catholic population. There are more than 25 Roman Catholic churches in the city, and some of the more prominent churches in the area include the St Sebastian churches, St Stephen’s church, St Anne’s churches and St Anthony’s church. Located in the heart of the city on Grand Street, St Mary’s Church is one of the largest cathedrals in Sri Lanka.
The construction of the church began in 1874, and was completed nearly 50 years later in 1922. It was built in the neoclassical architectural style, featuring large white columns on its main façade. Inside the church, the alabaster ceilings are beautifully painted with the imagery of important religious saints, and their likenesses can also be found in the sculptures attached to the upper levels. The paintings of a local Buddhist painter named N S Godamanne can also be found on the church ceiling.