It is the most imposing building in Kotahena, the Roman Catholic Cathedral, named after St. Lucia, the patron of Colombo. With its silver coloured dome it towers high above all surrounding buildings in the area and is a landmark in Kotahena. Earlier on this place the Dutch built a church in 1760, but it was demolished and replaced by this giant cathedral. In the 1870s, the dream of the Italian Mgr. Sillani finally came true, since there had not yet been a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Colombo. The architect Fr. Tabbarini was asked to make a design for the cathedral. He was inspired by St. Peter’s cathedral In Rome; it was inaugurated by the then Bishop of Colombo, Rev. Christopher Bonjean. In 1888 the bishop brought some of the bones of St. Lucia to Colombo, which has now found a resting place inside this cathedral.
The façade is particularly interesting. It has three portals and inside the front of the cathedral a bay with a clock in the middle is carried by four tall Corinthian columns. The top parapet of the façade has a series of seven big statues. The interior of the cathedral is large, spacy and has been nicely decorated with huge detailed statues of saints and on top of the main altar with a beautiful statue of St. Lucia. Unique is the dark tinted statue of Mary, called ‘Our Lady of Kotahene’. Every May a procession is being held through the streets of Kotahene, when this statue is carried around. The population of this area is mainly Roman Catholic.
In 1995 Pope John Paul 2 visited Sri Lanka and beautified Father Vaz from Goa. He was send to Sri Lanka to take care of the Roman Catholic community which was persecuted by the Dutch colonizers. He particularly took good care of the poor. He also was a companion of Fr. Anthony (see St. Anthony’s Church). In January 2015 Pope Francis I canonized Joseph Vaz into sainthood.
The majestic yellow tinted building left of the cathedral is the bishop’s palace, but not accessible to the public.
In mid-June an annual procession takes place dedicated to Fr. Anthony leading from St. Lucia Cathedral to St. Anthony’s Church in Kochikade.