Historic Negombo church prepares for Christmas in Sri Lanka tourist resort also known as ‘Little Rome’

 

With Christmas just around the corner, Christians everywhere are getting ready to celebrate the birth of Christ—and nowhere more so than in Negombo.

As well as being Sri Lanka’s premiere west-coast tourist resort, Negombo is also known as ‘Little Rome’ because of the many Roman Catholic churches in and around the town.

Among them is St Stephen’s, a historic church set in a beautiful landscape of lush greenery that overlooks the ancient Dutch Fort and the picturesque Negombo lagoon.

The Sunday Observer notes that “it is a small yet beautiful church which has features of the Gothic architectural style such as a light, airy interior and stained glass windows”, and consecrated by the Bishop of Colombo in 1879.

“In the past, the Church membership consisted mainly of British Government officials working in the area, as well as members of the Sinhala, Tamil and Burgher communities who had embraced Christianity.”

“The centenary celebrations fostered unity among the three different congregations. The vicar’s empathy for his parishioners irrespective of age, language or social status was a good example that brought about friendship among the parishioners.”

A church report says that “music played an important role, with both organ and guitar music accompanying the church services. The Sunday evening services featured a lot of music and many parishioners, foreigners and non-members attended it.

“The church also encouraged young musicians to become organists. The spiritual programs during this period were the Evangelical mission service at Dalupotha, Bible studies and Sunday evening services in English attended by foreign visitors and parishioners.”

The church also does a great deal of much-valued social work, particularly among widows and families in Negombo’s traditional fishing community, most of whom are Christians.

Read more here.

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