History of Church

The first idea to have a Church at Thimbirigasyaya sprung up from the warm heart of an old gentle woman of the place, who, with the faith of the simple, visioned the growth of the number of the faithful and humbly begged for provision to their spiritual needs.

The idea was submitted to and accepted by the then Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. P. Gueguen O.M.I., who erected a small temporary Chapel and dedicated it to St. Therese of the Infant Jesus, with the laudable intention of  building, later on, a shrine.  That was in 1934.

His successor, the Rev. Fr. Ch. Reymann O.M.I., accepted the pious heritage, but had hardly started the partial construction of the nave, when in 1952, by His Grace, the Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Cooray, Archbishop of Colombo, the Mission of Bambalapitiya – with Thimbirigasyaya and Manning Town territories – was handed over to Dominican Fathers.

The foundation for the present church was laid in 1950 during which time the catholics living in the surrounding areas worshipped at the Bambalapitiya church where services were conducted regularly by Fr. Hyacinth Fredno.   The Church was completed in 1961 and the worshippers were mainly from the Torrington flats with about 35 catholic families.  It must be noted that the pews were made from the wood of the Jak trees in the compound and at this time there was only one English Mass on Sundays.  Fr. Gerard Campos arrived in the 1960s and the first priest to reside was Fr. Frendo.  On the arrival of the Dominican sisters, Holy Mass was celebrated on a daily basis in the Convent Chapel where the lay people were allowed to participate.  (as related by Mercia Jayatunge)

The present church has to its credit some very remarkable religious murals done by Richard Don Gabriel, a renowned artist of our times, which enhances their value.  It stands today as a monument of art and architecture.


Upon the Dominicans leaving Sri Lanka in 1964,  Fr. Frendo was instrumental in getting the Redemptorists to take over this Church.  The criterion he himself had stipulated in searching for a Religious Congregation of priests for handing over the Church was said to be “a Congregation that has a special devotion to Our Lady”.  The late Fr. Marcus Manatunga, C.Ss.R. was the first Redemptorist Parish Priest of this church.

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