HAIL MARY. Pilgrims at Madhu Church
Mathew N. Schmalz

On January 14, Pope Francis will go to Madhu.

Madhu is Sri Lanka’s holiest Catholic shrine, home to Our Lady of Madhu, a statue of the Virgin Mary that was brought for safekeeping from the Dutch in the 17th century. Madhu is sacred to both Sinhalese and Tamil Catholics still trying to reconcile after more than two decades of civil war. And Madhu is also where Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims come to pay their respects to Mary. At Madhu, Pope Francis will specially bless war victims and his presence in the Tamil north marks an important moment in Sri Lankan history.