The Shrine of Padre Pio in Athurugiriya, a small town approximately 25 kilometers away from Colombo city, is the first Shrine dedicated to St. Padre Pio in the South East Asian region. The Shrine was consecrated and opened to the faithful on 23rd September, the feast day of the saint, 2007. Away from the hustle of the city, the serene surroundings and the panoramic view will catch the attention of the pilgrim who visits the Shrine. The spiritual and pastoral care of the Shrine is entrusted to the Franciscan Conventual Order (OFM Conv.).
The octagonal shrine with its beautiful architecture was a dream that Mario Bruschi, a strong devotee of the saint, that began to come to life in 2003 and was completed in 2007. Mario Bruschi, currently living in and a co-ordinator of the Padre Pio movement in New York, has personally seen the patron saint and the stigmata’s he bore. As a youth of 23 he visited the saint for 2 weeks in 1957 and was awestruck by the saints beautiful face with its dark piercing eyes and by the saint’s gentle and kind manner. It was here that Bruschi was personally presented with a pair of gloves worn by the saint over the stigmata on his palms.

In 1973, Bruschi visited the island for the 1st time on vacation. He dreamed of having a shrine dedicated to St. Padre Pio built in Sri Lanka and thus spoke with Rev. Dr. Nicholas Marcus Fernando, the Archbishop, who was very supportive about the idea. The following year he began to work on the church project along with Rev. Fr. Betram Dabarera, the late Rev. Fr. Kingsley Jayamanne and Mr. Gamini Kannangara. Bruschi returned to New York once his dream was materializing to raise funds for the project. After 33 years of planning and hard work the church was consecrated by the most Rev. Oswald Gomis.

Today the church houses the statue of St. Padre Pio and a beautiful Statue of our Lady mother Mary holding up infant Jesus which were brought from the united states and an additional 2 statues of St. Padre pio around the church compound and 2 more statues donated by the faithful. One of the relics (a glove) always on display at the church can be seen at the feet of Saint Padre Pio’s statue within the church and the other two are exposed during the feast day.

Many a devotee who has come from all faiths and all parts of the world in hopes of healing through the intersession of the saint have returned with miraculous results. The general atmosphere within and around the church is one of peace and acceptance. The annual feast of the Shrine is on September 23. A daily mass is held with a special novena to Padre Pio at 6 p.m. on all Fridays. Sunday mass commences every Sunday at 8 a.m. in English and 5 p.m. in Sinhala.

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