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Thousands flock to Mannar for Madhu Church festival

After a break of three years, thousands of people travelled to Mannar to attend the annual festival to mark Feast of Our Lady of Madhu this week.

The festival, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, usually attracts large crowds of devotees every year.

On Monday, thousands were in attendance for the service, with the statue of Our Lady of Madhu brought out for all to see.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in Mannar has long been considered the holiest place of Roman Catholic worship on the island, with a history of over 400 years.

The site, however, has previously been targeted by the Sri Lankan military, such as the 1999 army shelling of the church which saw 37 Tamil civilians killed and 64 wounded. The shrine itself has had to be repeatedly moved and taken to shelter elsewhere due to repeated military offensives.

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