Thomas Savundaranayagam

Last updated
Rt Rev.
Thomas Savundaranayagam
Bishop of Jaffna
Thomas Savundaranayagam.jpg
Native nameதோமசு சௌந்தரநாயகம்
Church Roman Catholic Church
Province Colombo
Diocese Jaffna
Installed 6 July 1992
Term ended 13 October 2015
Predecessor Bastiampillai Deogupillai
Successor Justin Gnanapragasam
Other posts Bishop of Mannar (1981-92)
Personal details
Born (1938-07-13) 13 July 1938 (age 79)
Kayts, Ceylon
Alma mater Pontifical Urbaniana University

Right Reverend Emmanuel Thomas Savundaranayagam (Tamil : இம்மானுவேல் தோமசு சௌந்தரநாயகம், Sinhalese : තෝමස් සවුන්ද්‍රනායගම්; born 13 July 1938) is a Sri Lankan Tamil priest and former Roman Catholic Bishop of Jaffna.

Tamil language language

Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of two countries: Sri Lanka and Singapore and official language of the Indian state Tamil Nadu. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

Sinhalese language language of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka

Sinhalese, known natively as Sinhala, is the native language of the Sinhalese people, who make up the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, numbering about 16 million. Sinhalese is also spoken as a second language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, totalling about four million. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. Sinhalese is written using the Sinhalese script, which is one of the Brahmic scripts, a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script closely related to the Kadamba alphabet.


Early life and family

Savundaranayagam was born on 13 July 1938 in Kayts on the island of Velanaitivu in northern Ceylon. [1] [2] He was educated at St. Anthony's College, Kayts and St. Patrick's College, Jaffna. [3] [4] He then studied at St. Martin's Seminary, Jaffna and National Seminary, Ampitiya (1957-64). [2] Savundaranayagam has a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree from the Pontifical Urbaniana University and a Diploma in Catechetics. [2]

Kayts Village in Sri Lanka

Kayts, is one of the important villages in Velanai Island which is a small island off the coast of the Jaffna Peninsula in northern Sri Lanka. There are number of other villages within the Velanai Islands such as Allaippiddi, Mankumpan, Velanai, Saravanai, Puliyankoodal, Suruvil, Naranthanai, Karampon and Melinchimunai.

British Ceylon former British Crown colony

Ceylon was a British Crown colony between 1815 and 1948. Initially the area it covered did not include the Kingdom of Kandy, which was a protectorate from 1815, but from 1817 to 1948 the British possessions included the whole island of Ceylon, now the nation of Sri Lanka.

St. Patricks College, Jaffna

St. Patrick's College (SPC) is a private school in Gurunagar, Jaffna, Sri Lanka. It was founded in 1850 by Roman Catholic missionaries.


Savundaranayagam was ordained as a priest in December 1963. [1] [2] In January 1981 he was appointed Bishop of Mannar and was ordained as a bishop in July 1981 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu. [1] [2] He became Bishop of Jaffna in July 1992. [1] [2] He retired in October 2015. [5]

Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu Catholic shrine in Sri Lanka

The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu is a Roman Catholic Marian shrine in Mannar district of Sri Lanka. With a history of over 400 years, this shrine acts as a center for pilgrimage and worship for Sri Lankan Catholics. The site is considered as the holiest Catholic shrine in the island and is a well known place of devotion for both Tamil and Sinhalese Catholics. The church has been a symbol of unity not just between Tamils and Sinhalese, but also between people of different religions, including Buddhists, Hindus and Protestants.

Savundaranayagam is a strong activist for Tamil rights in Sri Lanka and humanitarian efforts in what is sometimes called "Tamil Eelam". [6] [7] He had called for international intervention to stop the Sri Lankan conflict. [8]

Tamil Eelam Aspirational state

Tamil Eelam is a proposed independent state that Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora aspire to create in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Tamil Eelam, although encompassing the traditional homelands of Sri Lankan Tamils, has no official status or recognition by world states. Sections of the Eelam community were under de facto control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for most of the 2000s. The name is derived from the ancient Tamil name for Sri Lanka, Eelam.

Sri Lankan Civil War armed conflict in Sri Lanka (1983–2009) between the government and the separatist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

The Sri Lankan Civil War was an armed conflict fought on the island of Sri Lanka. Beginning on 23 July 1983, there was an intermittent insurgency against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which fought to create an independent Tamil state called Tamil Eelam in the north and the east of the island. After a 26-year military campaign, the Sri Lankan military defeated the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, bringing the civil war to an end.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam". Catholic Hierarchy.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Bishop Savundranayagam". Union of Catholic Asian News .
  3. "Past Bishops". St Patrick's College, Jaffna Old Boys' Association, Colombo Branch. Archived from the original on 23 March 2014.
  4. Rasaiya, Christy (16 July 2000). "St. Patrick's 150 years old". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) .
  5. "Pope appoints new bishop in Jaffna, S. Lanka". Vatican Radio . 13 October 2015.
  6. "Jaffna bishop hails gesture". The Hindu . 1 January 2009.
  7. Kremmer, Janaki (14 January 2005). "Distrust between Sri Lanka, rebels hampers tsunami aid". The Christian Science Monitor .
  8. "Sri Lankan Bishop calls for international intervention to stop war". Alertnet . Caritas Internationalis. 11 May 2007. Archived from the original on 6 July 2008.

Catholic Church titles
New title Bishop of Mannar
24 January 1981 – 6 July 1992
Succeeded by
Rayappu Joseph
Preceded by
Bastiampillai Deogupillai
Bishop of Jaffna
6 July 1992 – 13 October 2015
Succeeded by
Justin Gnanapragasam