‘Our Lady of Madhu’ shifted to safety in the midst of raging battle

The highly venerated statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as ‘Our Lady of Madhu’, was taken from the Madhu shrine by three priests to Thevayanpiddy in Vellankumam, an LTTE controlled area, on Thursday for its protection, Bishop of Mannar the Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph said yesterday (4).

Thevayanpiddy is situated along the coastal Road to Jaffna from Mannar.

The Bishop said the Church had appealed to both sides in the armed conflict to desist from using firearms in the vicinity of the Madhu Shrine but apparently the request had not been acceded to and the Church was compelled to take the hallowed statue to a safe location.

Due to the exchange of fire between the security forces and the LTTE in the vicinity of the Church the Shrine seemed vulnerable and it was decided to shift it to a safer location, the Bishop said.

He said artillery rounds had damaged some walls of the shrine as well as a dining room and the four members of the clergy and some workers at the shrine had to spend the last few days in bunkers for their safety.

Hundreds of pilgrims who had come to worship at the shrine also had to leave for fear of attacks when the fighting was stepped up in recently.

Government troops said they would clear the Madhu Shrine area very soon so that the statue of the shrine could be brought back and pilgrimages could resume.

The battle in the Madhu area intensified last Wednesday and the armed forces are now positioned in an area about one kilometre from the Shrine. The Pandiparichchan Church in the vicinity of Madhu is now under the control of the security forces.

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