Universal Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Lawrence,
Deacon and Martyr on August 10. St Lawrence is the Patron Saint
of the City of Colombo and the Parish of Wellawatte. He is also
popularly known as the Patron of Fire and Burns.
Lawrence was born in Huskia, Spain. He was the
first of the seven deacons who served the Roman Church. In the
year 257 A.D. Pope Sixtus II, ordained him a Deacon. Following
the declaration of Emperor Valerian, the Pope was arrested in
257.A.D. When the Pope was being led to the killing yard, young
Lawrence wept and cried out "Father, where are you going without
The Pope replied "Son, I am not abandoning you,
you’ll follow me in three days time, whatever wealth you have in
your hand, distribute it among the poor".
Lawrence was pleased. He distributed all the
money he had to the poor widows and the needy. Lawrence was
The Prefect or Governor of the City asked him to
turn over all the treasures of the church. Lawrence gathered all
the poor and the sick and told him, "These are the real
treasures of the Church". The Governor felt insulted and ordered
Lawrence to be roasted on a gridiron over a slow fire While
being roasted Lawrence said "You may turn me over, it is roasted
enough on this side".
He was roasted to death in the year 258 A.D. His
death resulted in the spiritual transformation of Rome – he is
known as the Jewel of Rome
The Portuguese Expedition landed in Ceylon in
November 1505. They erected a chapel at the South West end of
the present breakwater of the Colombo Harbour. They named it as
the Church of St. Lawrence after the Patron Saint of their
Commander Lorenzo de Almeida.
The popularity of St Lawrence spread fast and
very soon he was honoured as the Patron Saint of the Taprobane
alias Ceylon. Towards the middle of the following century the
Dutch became the rulers of Ceylon. Along with many other
Catholic Churches, the Church of St. Lawrence was also
destroyed. For four centuries there was no Church in Colombo in
honour of its Patron Saint. It was the Most Rev. Dr J.A. Masson
the Bishop, then Administrator of the Archdiocese of Colombo who
formed a new Parish at Wellawatte on 6th January 1938.
The small church of St Lawrence was situated at
Villa Pleasant Avenue (later renamed St. Lawrence Road). A
youthful priest, Rev. Fr Robert Fernando O.M.I. was sent as the
first Parish Priest. He was determined to build a bigger church
to cater to the growing congregation. The spacious land at No.
375, Galle Road Wellawatte, lying exactly between the two
bridges that enclose Wellawatte, was purchased and the corner
stone for the new Church was laid on 17th January 1954.
Rev. Fr Robert Fernando laboured for thirty long
years (1938 – 1968) to build what can easily be called as one of
the most beautiful churches in Sri Lanka. The unique hexagon
shaped Church painted in red, the colour of blood is greatly
The amazing work of art - the seven feet
Crucifix made of cement behind the Tabernacle, the beautifully
painted eye which is right above the main altar reminds us of
the "Eye of God" and is reflected in the chalice of wine at Holy
Mass, the red light that burns under the main altar is
significant of the gridiron- the furnace on which St Lawrence
was roasted to death, the angel’s face on all the entrance door
frames, the design of wheat and grapevine on the inner walls of
the Sanctuary and on the communion rails add more beauty.
All these were the brain child of Rev. Fr.
Robert Fernando who had a wealth of knowledge about the
architecture of the Church. His name is synonymous with the
Parish of St Lawrence’s Wellawatte. This Church was ceremonially
consecrated on 6th March 1968 by His Eminence Thomas Cardinal
Cooray O.M.I. The Parish of Wellawatte grew and flourished under
Fr. Robert’s pastoral care. He began many Associations and
encouraged people to see God in the poor just as St Lawrence
did. Rev. Fr. Robert Fernando went to his Eternal Home on 1st
Our second Parish Priest the late Msgr. Manik
Muttukumaru served our Parish from 1968 – 1985 During his
Pastorate St Lawrence grew both in numbers and strength and he
organised the Community Service Centre, the Serving Hands
Projects, Sama Sevana, the Home for destitute boys of the
Parish... St Lawrence’s soon became the Model Parish of the
Msgr. Manik was a Marian Priest he had a deep
love for both for Mother Mary and his own mother in whose memory
he has left us a beautiful legacy, the Grotto to our Lady of
Lourdes Late Fr. Robert paid his successor Msgr. Manik a great
tribute when he said "I built a Church, he built a Community".
Msgr. Manik Muttukumaru built the Community
Centre to accommodate the Free Medical Clinic and to cook and
serve food for the poor and also originated the idea of a
sub-Parish at Mayura Place, Wellawatte. Msgr. Manik Muttukumaru
entered Eternal Rest on 24th September 2002.
Rev.Fr. Hugo Jesudasa Fernando served the Parish
for a short spell from January 1986 to October 1986.
Late Rev. Fr. Cyril Perera O.M.I. was our Parish
Priest from 1986 – 1996. It was under his Pastorate that our
Church celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1988 He was a devoted
Parish Priest in his own inimitable way. Experience with Youth
and Vocational Education were his forte.
He introduced the Infant Jesus Novena which
attracted a church full of devotees every Thursday evening. He
built the Belfry and erected a life size statue of St Lawrence
in the church premises facing Galle Road. Late Rev. Fr. Cyril
O.M.I with intense negotiation with the Government obtained a
place and established St. Antony’s Church at Mayura Place,
Wellawatte and formed a sub-Parish.
Rev Fr. Cyril.S. Perera served our Parish from
1992 till 1997. He was a hardworking, dedicated and loving
Pastor. He encouraged the youth to involve in all our Parish
activities and brought them closer to God. There was no Corpus
Christi or Church Feast Celebration without the active
participation of the Youth. During his tenure he built the pond
for Adult Baptism. He is a lover of pets and planted beautiful
flower plants along the pathway and around the church and made
the entire church yard blossom with beautiful flowers.
Rev. Fr .Joseph Benedict Fernando a Scholar in
the field of Education came to our Parish in 1997. The Diamond
Jubilee Celebrations of the Parish were celebrated during his
stay with us in the year 1998. He was extremely simple, humble
Priest of God. He was very loving and caring and always had a
smile for his parishioners. He had the time to listen to their
problems and suggestions.
During his time an extension to the existing
Community Centre was built to accommodate 400 Daham Pasala
children every Sunday. In February 2006 we bade farewell to our
dear Fr. Joe Ben as he was affectionately called. We welcomed
Rev. Fr. Bob Rodrigo O.M.I as our new Parish Priest yet another
Marian priest. He has plenty of Parish experience behind him and
has already brought in harmony among the Youth and made them
active participants in all our Parish activities. Rev Fr. Leon
Gerard Babapulle O.M.I another Marian priest has been appointed
as Assistant Parish Priest and has already come to know many
Parishioners and is ably assisting our Pastor.
We the parishioners of Wellawatte pledge our
wholehearted support to them both. This year we celebrate our
Patron St. Lawrence‘s feast on the 5th and 6th of August. The
youth of our parish will be organising Youth League Fair on both
days, a family get-together with music, games and other
Let us encourage our youth in their endeavour
and express our confidence and support by attending the League
Fair on both days.
Be sure to be there!!!