St. Mary's Cathedral, Jaffna

St. Mary's Cathedral
Jaffna Cathedral
புனித மரியன்னை பேராலயம்
St. Mary's Cathedral, Jaffna.jpg
St. Mary's Cathedral is located in Central Jaffna
St. Mary's Cathedral
St. Mary's Cathedral
Location in central Jaffna
09°39′22.10″N 80°01′21.90″E / 9.6561389°N 80.0227500°E / 9.6561389; 80.0227500Coordinates: 09°39′22.10″N 80°01′21.90″E / 9.6561389°N 80.0227500°E / 9.6561389; 80.0227500
LocationGurunagar, Jaffna
CountrySri Lanka
DenominationRoman Catholic
Former name(s)St. Mary's Church
Functional statusActive
Bishop(s)Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam
Priest(s)Rev. Fr. R. C. X. Neasarajah
Assistant priest(s)
  • Rev. Fr. Skaranraj
  • Rev. Fr. R. O. Tarrence

St. Mary's Cathedral (Tamil: புனித மரியன்னை பேராலயம், translit. Puṉita Mariyaṉṉai Pērālayam; Sinhalese: ශාන්ත මරියා ආසන දෙව් මැදුර Śānta Mariyā Āsana Dev Mædura) is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jaffna located in Gurunagar, a suburb of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka.[1][2]

The cathedral is also known locally as Periye Kovil (Tamil: பெரிய கோவில்).[3]


According to local folklore King of Jaffna Cankili I killed his son at the location of the present cathedral after his son converted to Catholicism.[4] The prince's ashes were buried at the spot where he was killed and a chapel, which later served as the foundation for the construction of the present cathedral, was built.[5][6]

Construction of St. Mary's Church began in 1789 and was completed in 1794.[7] The first parish priest was Rev. Fr. Leonard Rebeiro.[7] The church was built on the site of a thatched house that had previously served as a worshipping place for Jaffna's Catholics.[6] The church has a total of fourteen novenas. The ancestors of the 10th and 11th novenaa gifted land for the church and the ancestors of the 12th and 13th novenas gifted land and also contributed with money for purchasing land for the church.[6]

By the early twentieth century the church, which was now a cathedral, had become too small to accommodate all its worshippers. Construction of a new cathedral began in 1939 but wasn't completed until 1975.[8]


  1. ^ "St. Mary's Cathedral, Jaffna, Sri Lanka".
  2. ^ "Historical dictionary - Oblate Communications". -. Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  3. ^ IBC Tamil (2016-05-02), பெரிய கோவிலடி - Jaffna | Vanakkam Thainaadu Ep 227 Part 1 | IBC Tamil TV, retrieved 2017-08-17
  4. ^ Kurukshetra. Sri Lak-Indo Study Group. 1983. p. 68.
  5. ^ Joseph, Dishan (2016-07-16). "Mannar Island of Martyrs » Nation". Nation. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  6. ^ a b c Martyn 1923, p. 155.
  7. ^ a b Martyn 1923, p. 8.
  8. ^ "Cathedral". St. Mary's Cathedral.


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