" The existence of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka is the MIRACLE of Blessed Joseph Vaz, the Apostle of Sri Lanka. Blessed Joseph. Here is a country in which the faith was first preached, and a Church founded with great success to flourish for over a century, by missionaries who, being afterwards forced by the political failure of their nation to abandon the field, left this island for good and their converts without churches or priests and a single priest Father Joseph Vaz from Goa, came here of his own accord and labouring heroically with a price upon his head, revived the faith of the Catholics and made many conversions. And the Catholic Bishops' Conference have appealed to the Holy Father Pope Francis to elevate Blessed Joseph Vaz to the sainthood. I believe as the Holy Father Pope Francis will be visiting Sri Lanka on 13th & 14th January 2015, the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz will be completed soon and he would be raised to sainthood " said His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo.
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith presided at the presentation of "Soul of Christ Symphony" at Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, Colombo. " Soul of Christ " is a symphony about the life of Christ, music composed and directed by a Buddhist musician Vajira Indika Karunasena.
Ven. Rabukana Siddartha Thero, Hudson Samarasinghe the Chairman of SLBC, several priests, artists, musicians, singers and actors & actresses were present on the occasion.
The Composition of "Soul of Christ Symphony" was a suggestion made by Hudson Samarasinghe the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.
His Eminence further said, " I make this opportunity to thank Hudson Samarasinghe the Chairman of SLBC, I thank the musician Vajira Indika Karunasena who composed this symphony and all the others involved for making this presentation on the occasion of the visit of our Holy Father Pope Francis. His visit to Sri Lanka is a honour for Sri Lanka. Pope Francis is rich with inner spiritual strength and that is visible today in the way he desires to visit and meet the people, the way he talks and how he treats everyone alike. He shows the great vocation in discipleship, that is to show God's love to all, to embrace everyone in that love and show respect and dignity everyone equally."
During the programme, specially composed song was sung in tribute to Pope Francis and his visit to Sri Lanka, by the singer Angeline Gunatillake and a group. Also a tradition hymn on Blessed Mother Mary, composed by Juan Pinto of Chilaw was sung by another group from Chilaw.
Addressing the journalists at the Archbishop's House, His Eminence said, " The visit of Pope Francis to Sri Lanka marks the first visit of the Pontiff to Asia after being elected to the papacy in March 2013. He is the third Pope to visit Sri Lanka after Pope Paul the V1 in 1970 and Pope John Paul the II in 1995".
Pope Francis will arrive in Sri Lanka at 9 a.m. on January 13 and will be accorded a State welcome at the Bandaranaike International Airport. Thereafter, the Pontiff will proceed along the Negombo road to the Nunciature in Colombo and Archbishop’s House where he will meet the Archbishop and Bishops.
The Holy Father will pay a courtesy call on President MahindaRajapaksa and thereafter meet religious leaders at the BMICH. A stamp to mark the visit of the Holy Father will be issued on the same day.
The main event of the Pope’s visit which is to canonise Blessed Joseph Vaz will take place at the Galle Face Green on the following day at 8.30 a.m. Thereafter, the Pope will visit the Madhu Shrine for a prayer service and return to Colombo to leave for Manila the following day.
“The visit of the Holy Father is a landmark occasion for Sri Lanka. We warmly welcome Pope Francis to our country which is rich in religious and cultural values. We must use this occasion to demonstrate to the world our values”, the Cardinal said.
Pope Francis known for his simplicity, pastoral care and love for the poor has inspired the church to commit itself to the mission of Jesus Christ to abide in love which is also the theme of the Holy Father’s visit to Sri Lanka.
When asked whether the Pontiff would travel in a special chariot, the Cardinal said that Pope Francis always preferred to travel on a simple vehicle. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires Pope Francis had no car and lived in a simple apartment and cooked his meals himself. He lives a radical life bearing witness to the Gospel values.