Sri Lankan Government Promises to Rebuild 175-Year-Old Catholic Church Destroyed in Easter Sunday Bomb Explosion

St. Anthony’s Shrine photographed the day after multiple deadly explosions targeted churches and hotels across Sri Lanka. (Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

At 8:45 a.m., an explosion interrupted Easter morning mass at St. Anthony’s Shrine, a 19th-century Roman Catholic church in the Kochchikade suburb of Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo. The church was one of eight locations targeted in a series of coordinated suicide bombing attacks that killed at least 359 people and left hundreds more injured.

According to BBC News’ Ayeshea Perera, in the wake of tragedy, the church was forced to close its doors to visitors for the first time in its 175-year history. But St. Anthony’s won’t stay shut permanently. Already, Sajith Premadasa, Sri Lanka’s minister of housing, construction and cultural affairs, has announced plans to rebuild the house of worship.

The Art Newspaper’s Gareth Harris reports that reconstruction, overseen by Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, will begin after security forces complete their investigation. It remains unclear how much the overall rebuilding project will cost, as well as how long it will take.

In a statement, the Knights of Columbus, a United States-based Catholic organization, offered $100,000 to Cardinal Ranjith for “his use in the rebuilding and repair of his Christian community.” Separately, the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror reports that Rosy Senanayake, mayor of Colombo, pledged 25 million rupees, or roughly $143,000 USD, of municipality funding toward restoring the church to its “former glory.”

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SOURCE: Smithsonian.com, Meilan Solly