the steps of Christ
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.
busloads of pilgrims made their way to the Calvary in Hiniduma in
the Galle District, a place of national pilgrimage.
ago it was Fr. Cyril Edirisinghe who visualized and constructed
this unique shrine.
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".
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
of these sites was indeed an achievement by Fr. Cyril - a mighty
feat of converting the jungle slopes into his Calvary.
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...'