Ruins of Portuguese Church of Our Lady of Angels in Myliddy – Jaffna

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Ruins of Church of Our Lady of Angels in Myliddy - Jaffna 1971
Ruins of Church of Our Lady of Angels in Myliddy – Jaffna 1971 (source: LEWCOCK, Ronald; SANSONI, Barbara; SENANAYAKE, Laky. The Architecture of an Island: The living heritage of Sri Lanka)

Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, the island of Sri Lanka (known as Ceilão by the Portuguese and Ceylon by the British) was witness to the conversion to Catholicism of a large group of communities located mainly along the seacoast, where the Portuguese established their commercial networks. This vast conversion determined the construction of a network of churches that spread from the seacoast to the interior of the island of Mannar and Jaffna, in the northwest of Sri Lanka. The earliest efforts to proselytise the island’s inhabitants began in 1543, when the Franciscans settled in the Kingdom of Kotte, after King Bhuvanekabahu (1521-1551) sent an delegation to Lisbon. In Jaffna the missionary work expanded at a stunning rate, coinciding with the annexation of the sub kingdom by the Portuguese crown 1619.

By 1644, there were 12 Jesuit churches in Jaffna peninsula out of which Church of Our Lady of Angels in Myliddy was one.  Father Philippus Baldaeus a Dutch minister reports the following about the Myliddy church.

The Church Mayletti is about 5 Quarters of an Hour from Telipole, Here are 750 Schoolboys, all taught by one Marter, who has more work than the two at Telipole: the Auditors of this Church amount to 1500 or 1600. The Church is a large Structure of Stone; the Houfe belonging to it is lofty, with a Balcony on the top of it, affording a very fine Profect into the main Sea, fo that it may well deserve the Name of Bellevidere. The Church is not above half a Mile from the Sea-fide. They abound here in Fifh, such as Crabs, Soles, Plaice, &c. as likewife in Hares and Partridges.

A true and exact description of the most celebrated East-India coasts of Malabar and Coromandel and also of the Isle of Ceylon

Myliddy is a fishing village on the northern coast of Jaffna Peninsula. The village has its own fisheries harbour for fishing boats. The photo from 1971 shows this church in ruins with only walls remaining. However this church has been rebuilt at a latter date and destroyed during the 30 period where Tamil Tiger Terrorists waged a war with the government forces. After the terrorists were decisively destroyed in 2009, The Sri Lankan forces cleared the shrub jungle grown over in in 2010 and held the first mass for the 12 years with over 2000 attendees. This Church has been declared as a protected archaeological site by the department of archaeology.

First service held after 12 years in 2010 on the ruins of Portuguese Church of Our Lady of Angels in Myliddy - Jaffna
First service held after 12 years in 2010 on the ruins of Portuguese Church of Our Lady of Angels in Myliddy – Jaffna
Church of Our Lady of Angels in Myliddy 1671
Church of Our Lady of Angels in Myliddy 1671
source : A true and exact description of the most celebrated East-India coasts of Malabar and Coromandel and also of the Isle of Ceylon.

References

  1. Baldaeus, P., 1672. ‘A true and exact description of the most celebrated East-India coasts of Malabar and Coromandel and also of the Isle of Ceylon. 1st ed. Amsterdam: Janssonius van Waasberge en van Someren.
  2. Jayasinghe, S., Santos, J. and Carita, H., 2019. REMAINS OF DARK DAYS – The Architectural Heritage of Oratorian Missionary Churches in Sri Lanka. 1st ed. LISBON,: Artis Press.

Also See

Map of Ruins of Myliddy Portuguese Church

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Travel Directions to Ruins of Myliddy Portuguese Church

Route from Jaffna town to Ruins of Myliddy Portuguese Church
Though : Kankesanthurai
distance :20 km
Travel time : 30
Driving directions : see on google map

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