The Cabinet of Ministers approved a Proposal presented by President Maithripala Sirisena, to declare the area around the Madhu church as a sacred area and to launch special Development Projects in the area including the development of transport and road facilities, drainage system and sanitary facilities and by supplying accommodation and rest houses for pilgrims.
With a history of over 400 years, the shrine acts as a center for pilgrimage and worship for Sri Lankan Catholics.
The site is considered as the holiest Catholic shrine in the island and is a well known place of devotion for both Tamil and Sinhalese Catholics.
The church has been a symbol of unity not just between Tamils and Sinhalese, but also between people of different religions, including Buddhists, Hindus and Protestants.
Pope Pius XI granted the image of Our Lady of Madhu a Canonical coronation on 2 July 1924. Attendance for the August festival at times touched close to a million people before the outbreak of the Sri Lankan Civil War.
Situated in the heart of the conflict zone, pilgrimage to this shrine was dramatically affected by the Civil War with the presence of refugee camps around the shrine complex. It was shelled a number of times. (Colombo Gazette)