iSee St. James Church Gurunagar

Tragedy buried in a living monument

Past - Christian Prominence

St. James Cathedral in Gurunagar is one of Jaffna's oldest, largest, and most prominent churches. Built in 1861 during the British Period over an already existing small chape, it's a place with a big story: Jaffna's king, Cankili I, killed his own son here because he had converted to Catholicism. St James church has a dark history too; on Saturday 13th November 1993, around 7.20am, two bombs were dropped from an Air Force plane over the church grounds. Nine civilians were killed, several others injured, and the church suffered severe damages. That morning, the holy mass was celebrated at a nearby smaller church and not at St. James; otherwise, many more would have been killed and injured.

Present - A Symbol of Faith

The church community came together to rebuild the church, and by 2000, many of the repairs had been completed. Today, St. James is a symbol of hope and history for the local Christian community. Its walls resonate with the prayers and hymns of generations, serving as a gathering place for believers to seek solace and find strength in their faith.

Future - Beacon of Religious Heritage?

Today, St. James Church Gurunagar is a place of worship and a symbol of resilience, standing tall amidst the changing tides of time. We'd like to see this place connect to its adjacent heritage locations and become a place for communities to gather in unity, community and prosperity.

This was the first major attack on a church during the war.
— Ruki Fernando, journalist
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