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Pope St Paul VI's Apostolic Visit to Ceylon

4th - 5th December 1970

Pope St Paul VI was a pilgrim to Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) during his last apostolic pilgrimage, on which he had also visited Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, West Samoa, Australia, Indonesia & Hong Kong.

After being welcomed at Colombo airport on Friday 4th December 1970, Saint Paul VI celebrated Mass there. The following morning, after bidding a fond farewell, Papa San Paolo VI departed on his homeward flight to Rome. [The custom back in 1970 was for the Pope to speak in the first person plural (as royalty would do) ie 'we' rather than 'I'.]

Pope St Paul VI's address at the Welcome Ceremony
Airport of Colombo, Friday 4th December 1970 - in English & Italian

"On our return journey, We have the joy of being able to call at Colombo to greet "the pearl of the Indian Ocean" and in this way to respond to the gracious invitation which has been extend to Us.

We offer Our greetings to the Governor-General, His Excellency Mr William Gopallawa, the representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to the Prime Minister, the Honourable Mrs Bandaranaike, to the Members of the Government, and at the same time to the national and local authorities who have honoured us by coming to welcome us. We are aware of your determination to implement in your country a courageous social policy, designed to ensure better living conditions and prosperity for all. By the grace of God and Our words of encouragement, may this Our visit contribute to strengthen among us, especially among Our Catholic brethren, an awareness of that duty towards society which is binding on all.

We greet with fraternal affection Cardinal Thomas Cooray, the bishops of the Island and their Catholic people. We thank God for having given Us the satisfaction of this meeting to unite Ourself with you in prayer, to encourage you in the service of God and of your neighbour. As you know, you cannot have one without the other, and no Christian conscience could neglect one without thereby damaging the other, for professing the faith involves witnessing to a brotherhood that is really part of one’s life.

We greet all the noble people of Ceylon who have come in such numbers to show their warm hospitality. From Our heart, We thank them and assure them of the deep affection of the Pope.

May God bless this land of Ceylon and may he protect its entire people.

Jayave sri lanka."

Papa San Paolo VI's homily at Holy Mass
at the airport of Colombo, Friday 4 December 1970 - in EnglishItalian & Portuguese

"Pacem relinquo vobis; pacem meam do vobis."

"Let us thank God’s fatherly Providence, and all the civil and religious leaders, whose graciousness towards Our person and eagerness to meet your own longings, have made it possible for Us to share together in this Eucharistic celebration, on Lanka’s loved and holy soil.

On this happy occasion Our special message to your noble Nation is one of brotherhood. Yes, you are among yourselves brothers and sisters, children of one and the same Motherland-Lanka. Let that brotherhood knit you together as one family in your social, economic and political life, without any distinction of caste, creed, colour or tongue. Share one another’s burdens, cares, sorrows and joys. Especially, share in an equitable manner the material resources of your country, so richly endowed by nature. These have been bestowed on you for the reasonable well-being of all, of each and every one. To realize this should be the concern not only of the State but of all its citizens. On this brotherly unity will depend your prosperity, your internal and external peace, your happiness. Our earnest wish and prayer for you is that God in his goodness may give you all these blessings.

We shall not be misunderstood - no-one will take it amiss - if, in this highest and characteristic act of our religion, We turn now to you the fellow members of our Catholic Faith, to say how one we are - we who share this one Bread at the altar, we who in the Blood of the Lamb have been reconciled to the Father and among ourselves, and thus form not merely a single people of faith and prophecy, but the very family of Christian love.

You call us "Holy Father" - it is a pleasing and inspiring name. We hold it by representation, as Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and in his name. Our service to you and to the immense Catholic family is to bear that name without shirking its responsibilities, to live its deep significance by bearing its burdens and by faithfully fulfilling the duties it imposes.

Fortunately for Us in Our personal weakness and in view of the restrictions of time and place, others too share in that title; with Us they bear its responsibility, they discharge its exacting functions. They are your bishops and the personal and sacramental prolongation of your bishops, your dear priests. We are happy to look round the altar tonight and greet with affection Our brother, Cardinal Thomas Cooray, your Archbishop, Our brethren in the episcopate and Our fellow-workers in the priesthood.

Along with them, tonight, from this altar, in fully shared responsibility of the pastoral office, We declare Ourself one with you all, both Religious and laity, Our fellow members of Christ’s Mystical Body.

A continual reminder of our oneness and the guarantee of our intimate communion with one another and with Christ Jesus - are these not found, according to Divine Providence, in a mother, Mary, the Immaculate Mother of Christ the Saviour? The name 'Mother' is the ever appealing, ever new rallying cry of the members of a family. Mary is that heavenly Mother of this beloved Island.

To her, her Son’s Vicar on earth, together with this family group of Lanka, wishes to recommend today the big problems of the world, and in particular asks her special protection on the Christian family. Our final word is 'peace' - peace among you within the Catholic family. Through you may it spread from group to group in ever widening circles reaching out to the entire Island, so that Lanka may be a beacon of peace throughout Asia, in all the lands bounded by the Indian Ocean and throughout the World. Peace - Pax Christi - to all of you. This is the word We bring you in his name; this is the word We leave you with his blessing."

Pope Saint Paul VI's address at the Farewell Ceremony
- in English & Italian

"At the end of this long journey, We are now about to leave for Rome. It is among you, dear people of Ceylon, that We end these unforgettable days of travelling. Before leaving, however, We could not fail to express Our profound gratitude for having been permitted to bring to a conclusion in your midst Our visits to the Christian communities of the vast continents of Asia and Oceania. God has drawn Us to undertake this journey to show first of all to Our brothers in the faith Our will to share in their labours and anxieties. We wished to show Our desire to see the Catholic Church accomplish her mission in harmony with the traditions and cultures of Asia-traditions and cultures which are so worthy of respect. This journey was meant also as a sign to the members of other religious confessions, and indeed to all men of goodwill, of the earnest desire of the Catholic Church to make her contribution in a spirit of mutual respect, understanding and esteem, to the task of ensuring for the inhabitants of these regions - particularly for the young and for the poor - the conditions necessary for the full development of their God-given potential.

We wish Our prayer to join with yours in imploring the Almighty for the justice, peace and happiness of individuals and families, of social groups and of nations so that men may begin to live at last as brothers.

Thank you again for your welcome. In imparting to you Our fatherly Apostolic Blessing, We call down upon all of you the richest favours of God.

Siyal’u denatema bohome isthuthi."