The interesting part of this church is the story behind this miraculous Roman Catholic Church. It leads back to the well-doer and founder, Fr. Antony, who came to Sri Lanka from Cochin in India by the end of the 18th century. At that time the Roman Catholics were persecuted by the Dutch, who had been involved in a huge religious conflict between the Roman Catholic Spaniards and the Protestant Dutch in the Northern Netherlands, which had lasted for 80 years. This explains the persecution of the Roman Catholics in Sri Lanka by the Dutch. Under these difficult circumstances he was working to administer the needs of the Roman Catholic community in Sri Lanka. He earned his money as a day-labourer, while holding services for the faithful during the night. He had a secret place to live near Phillip Neri’s Church in Pettah, but unfortunately the Dutch discovered him, although he managed to escape to Kotahene, where the local fishermen recognized the priest. In the meantime the Dutch soldiers also traced Fr. Anthony. Surrounded by the soldiers, the fishermen asked him to make the sea to recede, because it prevented them from drying their fishing nets. The priest prayed for the sea to recede and so it happened. The fishermen, but also the Dutch soldiers, were astonished about what had happened and reported the event to the governor, who decided to give the land where the miracle happened to Fr. Anthony, who built a small hut on that place. In 1806 the hut was extended because of the increasing number of devotees. The current church dates back to 1834. In 1822 a statue of St. Anthony was brought from Goa in India to the church. It can now be seen on the altar in the chapel, left from the main altar, which is exactly the spot where the miraculous event took place. Many devotees have been visiting the chapel ever since to make vows and do special prayers. Tuesday is the day dedicated to St. Anthony and on that day many devotees come to church to pray. In mid-June there is a St. Anthony’s Festival with many festivities around the church and a procession taking place from St. Lucia’s Cathedral in Kotahene to Kochikade, the neighbourhood where the church is founded.
The name Kochikade is derived from the native place of Fr. Anthony, being Cochin in India (Kochi) and his shop on that place (kade).