St. Mark’s Church, Badulla
St. Mark's Church, Badulla, located in the central ward of Badulla Municipal Council, holds a significant place in the religious and historical landscape of Sri Lanka. This Anglican church has a rich history and has played a crucial role in the development of the Badulla community. Consecrated in 1857, the church stands as a testament to the unity and contributions of people from various religious and racial backgrounds. With its remarkable architecture and the inclusion of the bell tower, St. Mark's Church holds both religious and cultural importance.
History of St. Mark's Church
Before the construction of St. Mark's Church, a priest from Nuwara Eliya conducted church services in the local courthouse. However, the need for a dedicated place of worship became evident, leading to the initiation of plans for a church. In 1846, Bishop James Chapman visited Badulla and held a service in the courthouse, which garnered the attention of district officials and coffee planters. Following this, a public meeting was organized to discuss the church's construction, receiving contributions from people of all religions and races in Badulla.
The construction of St. Mark's Church was a collective effort driven by the memory of Major Thomas William Rogers. Major Rogers, the Government Agent for Badulla District, was renowned for his hunting prowess, having shot 1,400 wild elephants. Tragically, he passed away in 1845 after being struck by lightning at Sherwood estate in Haputale. The church was erected in his memory and consecrated on April 25, 1857, which coincided with St. Mark's Day, by Bishop Chapman.
Location and Architecture
St. Mark's Church is prominently situated at the junction of Mahiyangana - Badulla main road (B36) in Badulla. The architectural design of the church showcases the influence of Anglican traditions. The building, completed in 1857, reflects the colonial-era rustic style with its grandeur and intricate details. The church's impressive bell tower, constructed in 1921 by Rev. William J. P. Waltham, adds to its aesthetic appeal and symbolizes its rich history and community significance.
Recognition and Protected Status
In April 2008, the Sri Lankan Government officially recognized St. Mark's Church and its bell tower as archaeologically protected monuments. This recognition highlights the historical and cultural importance of the church. Accordingly, the acting Minister of National Heritage, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, declared them "protected monuments" in the government Gazette number 1553 on June 6, 2008. This acknowledgment ensures the preservation of the church for future generations.
Significance and Community Impact
St. Mark's Church has been a pillar of the Badulla community for over a century and continues to play a vital role in the lives of its residents. Beyond its religious significance, the church has made notable contributions to education and social development. Rev. William J. P. Waltham, serving as the twelfth vicar from 1900 to 1925, established the St. Mark's Missionary School at Medagama, which eventually evolved into Uva College. This educational institution has provided countless students with opportunities for growth and learning.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Is St. Mark's Church open to the public for visitation?
- Yes, St. Mark's Church is open to the public and welcomes visitors.
- How can I learn more about the history of St. Mark's Church?
- You can find more detailed information about the church's history on the church's website or by visiting the church in person.
- Are there any special events or ceremonies held at St. Mark's Church?
- St. Mark's Church hosts various religious events, ceremonies, and celebrations throughout the year. Check their website or contact the church directly for specific dates and details.
- Can I attend a service at St. Mark's Church?
- Absolutely! St. Mark's Church conducts regular worship services, and visitors can participate.
- Are there any nearby attractions worth visiting while in Badulla?
- Badulla has several attractions nearby, including Dunhinda Falls, Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya, and the picturesque Namunukula Mountain Range.