Tracing the steps of Christ

By Lorna Wright
It was Good Friday. They came from Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Pesalai, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Puttalam, Negombo, Wattala, Galle and Colombo. They came in their hundreds and thousands carrying their own crosses in life.

Vanloads and busloads of pilgrims made their way to the Calvary in Hiniduma in the Galle District, a place of national pilgrimage.

Many years ago it was Fr. Cyril Edirisinghe who visualized and constructed this unique shrine.

Fr. Edirisinghe was a humble, sincere and loyal labourer of the Church. Besides his many talents, he was a skilled carpenter and a man dedicated to teaching trade skills to youths. In the 50s, his Hiniduma Orphanage produced many highly skilled craftsmen. He guided them in such a way that their work showed God's love and handiwork. Totally involved with the youth he strongly felt the rebellion of the 70s was not only a mere sociological phenomenon but was also commercial and employment oriented. Nothing irritated him more than when a young man in the parish wanted to become a security guard seeking the uniform. "I did not produce a lawyer or doctor," he once said to me, "but quite a few furniture millionaires".

The natural surroundings and beautiful environment at Hiniduma corresponded to the actual Gethsemane and the bridge over the river Cedron.

Every few years, his own suspension bridge across the Gin Ganga to the hill he was to call Calvary was swept away by torrential rain. My husband who was AGA Galle would have it replaced. In December 1994, a new concrete bridge was built.

To those who cannot make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in Jerusalem, the Hiniduma Calvary has been carefully laid out with details strictly in keeping with the account given in the Scriptures. The sites where different acts of drama and the Passion were enacted are known as the "14 Stations".

The reproduction of these sites was indeed an achievement by Fr. Cyril - a mighty feat of converting the jungle slopes into his Calvary.

The Sepulchre at Hiniduma is constructed using the exact measurements of the actual Sepulchre in which Jesus was entombed in Jerusalem. It is seven feet high and ten feet wide. The entrance to the second chamber is reached by going down a few steps. The tomb hewn in the living rock is reached through a second rock-cut chamber. The opening giving access to the Sepulchre is low and those who enter have to stoop.

Today the crowds, Sinhala, Tamil, Tamil-Muslim families, walk across the bridge to make the uphill climb to the 14 Stations of the Cross.

What joy for Fr. Cyril, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters whose lives today are measured by office computers, and microwave dinners to discover the spiritual void in their lives and come to Calvary to vow in simple words, 'Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven...'

Back to Top  Back to Plus  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.