St. Anthony's College, Kandy

St. Anthony’s College, Kandy founded in 1854, is one of the most prestigious Roman Catholic Schools in Sri Lanka. St Anthony's College has graduated a number of notable alumni, including Presidents, Ministers, and parliamentarians in Sri Lanka.


St. Anthony's College, Kandy


The Roman Catholic Church had established itself in the Maritime areas from 1505. In 1820 the superior of all the Oratorians in Ceylon, Vincent de Rozairo, arrived as the first missionary to Kandy. He erected a church, which occupied the same grounds where the present Scots Kirk stands. In 1828 the Scots Kirk site was found to be too small and hilly. A petition was submitted to the Governor - General Sir Edward Barnes who presented the Catholic Church with a new site. It was roughly a square 152 feet (46 m) by 150 feet (46 m) upon which the second Roman Catholic Church was built. This is the same site on which St. Anthony's Cathedral stands today. It was realized that building churches alone could not contribute to the success of the missionary efforts that began in 1820. In September 1843, an Italian Oratorian, Fr. Orazio Bettacchini was sent to the Kandyan mission who, during his missionary year 1843/44, opened a school in Kandy on the same premises. But, in August 1844, his successor Fr. Reinaud, who continued as missionary until 1848, began his missionary career by pulling down the school, which Fr. Bettacchini had put up.

In November 1853, Fr. Felice Zoppi, a Franciscan from the Chinese missionary field was sent to Kandy by Monsignor Joseph Maria Bravi D.d., O.S.B. He examined Fr. Bettacchini's complaint. Fr. Zoppi set about his task by opening a school for boys and one for girls at the house where he resided, in January 1854, with Mr. Van Twest as Head Teacher of the Boys School. This was the beginning of St. Anthony's School. Zoppi then sent word to Bravi through Fr. Leone Cingolani, informing him of his success in opening the schools. But the message was never delivered and Zoppi subsequently wrote to Bravi who replied on 12 March 1854, officially acknowledging the opening of both schools, at the present premises of St. Anthony's Cathedral.

The number of students on roll at the inception was 62 boys and 28 girls. The girls' school was shifted to Katukelle in 1887, where a convent was opened for the Good Shepherd Nuns. St Anthony's has a large amount of land given by the former minister, P B A Weerakoon.

The first fifty years

In 1870, the Irish Christian Brothers took over the administration of the school, temporarily. In 1871, the school was run by Mr. W. Hopp, who managed affairs until 1872 and handed the administration over to Mr. J. Jorden, who held the reins until 1875 when Fr. Dom Hildebrand Vanderstraaten, OSB, was installed as principal.

Fr. D. Paul Perera, OSB, succeeded Fr. Vanderstraaten in 1876, in which year it is recorded that boarding life was first introduced, and in 1877 handed over to Fr. Maurus Craner, until 1879. In 1879 secular teachers managed the school with Mr. R.P. Jansz as Head Master from 1880 to 1892, working with the Benedictine Fathers over a period of twelve years. The student population by 1887 had grown to 92; 5 of whom were boarders.

Upon Mr. Jansz's retirement in 1892, the Benedictines appointed Fr. Hilarian Leitan, OSB, who had only been ordained a priest in December 1891, as Principal. He continued for a period of six years until 1898. Fr. Leitan was the first, of an unbroken line of Benedictine Priestâ€"Principals of the College, to date. During his six years in office, he had the services of a few other Benedictine monks: Dom Hildebrand Georgesz, Dom Patrick McKelvie, Dom Dominic Direckze and for a short term, a Benedictine Father from Scotland, Rev. Ryan whose brothers were in charge of tea plantations. In 1894 the premises known as "Philips Coffee Store", now a part of St. Sylvester's College was purchased by Abbot Pancrazi for the school. In January 1899, Fr. Maurus Craner, OSB, succeeded Fr. Leitan as Principal of St. Anthony's.

Cricket was introduced by Fr. Andrew Vanlangenberg O.S.B. in 1903, and a team known as 'St. Anthony's College Cricket Club' consisting of staff and school boys was formed under the Captaincy of Fr. Andrew himself. The inaugural match was played in Colombo versus Colombo Carlton Cricket Club. The completion of the first fifty years was marked by the first ever school's cricket match involving St. Anthony's, which was played in 1904, against Dharmaraja College, with a 109-run victory for the Antonians.

The second fifty years

In 1906, Fr. Craner relinquished the post of Principal. His successor, Fr. D. Philip Caspersz, OSB, was already a member of the teaching staff. After Fr. Caspersz assumed duties as Principal, his brother, Fr. James came in as Boarding Prefect. These two brothers, in a comparatively short time changed the status of the school, making it a College. On 20 December 1907, the Annual Distribution of Prizes was held for the first time on a grand scale. The Rt. Revd. Dr. C. Pagnani, Bishop of Kandy, was the Chief Guest, and he helped to distribute 100 prizes among a total student population of 275. The roll of students increased to 300 in 1908. The first College publication was released as St. Anthony's Manual in 1908. It featured 53 pages of articles and reports on all activities of the College. On 5 November 1909, 12-year-old Charlie Hamilton, who had represented the College First XI Teams in Cricket, Football and Hockey with some performances in that year, died. The newly equipped Physical Laboratory was specially dedicated in the young boy's memory.

In 1910, Fr. Basil Hyde, OSB, an Old Boy (alumnus) of the College and a staff member, at the request of several old boys, summoned a meeting for Boxing Day, 1910, at the College Hall, where the "First Annual General Meeting" of the St. Anthony's Old Boys' Association (OBA) was held. Very Rev. Fr. Bede Beekmeyer was elected the first President of the Association proposed by Fr. Hyde himself. In 1912, when Fr. Beekmeyer was consecrated as Bishop, Fr. Hyde succeeded him as President of the OBA. A total of 152 members had joined the association in its first two years. The first Branch of the O.B.A. was formed on 24 February 1912 as the "Uva Branch", with Fr. Craner elected as President, at a meeting held at St. Mary's, Badulla.

Due to ill health, Fr. Philip Caspersz, who had been Principal for nearly a decade, was shifted to hibernate within the monastic walls of reclusion, and a younger man in the person of Fr. Basil Hyde, served as Principal during 1915, until a more permanent appointment was made. In November 1915, at the close of Fr. Basil Hyde's temporary tenure of office, Fr. James Caspersz, the natural brother of Fr. Philip Caspersz, whose association with the College began as Art Master before his ordination in 1906, was appointed Principal. (Mr. William Gopallawa, the last Governor General of Ceylon and first President of Sri Lanka, is among the school's alumni.)

In May 1921, Fr. D. Lawrence Hyde, OSB, succeeded Fr. James Caspersz as Principal of St. Anthony's. By this time the premises next to the Cathedral had been fully developed with the student population topping one thousand. Several representations were made for the transfer of St. Anthony's from the cramped precincts to more spacious grounds, but to no avail. In 1927 Bishop Bede Beeckmeyer, an Old Boy himself, purchased the old Dunuwille Walauwa, the present premises of the College. The plague hit Kandy by the end of 1927 and Fr. Hyde obtained the Bishop's permission to shift at least the junior boarders out of Kandy to Katugastota. The renovating and reconditioning of the new premises thus began in November 1927. With drains all around, outer walls had to be bound to the grounds, the inner walls removed and replaced by pillars and the roof supported by trusses. Water service was installed and Titus lamps provided the lighting. The classes were housed in a shed made of coconut pillars, mango rafters, corrugated iron roof and wattle-and-daub dwarf walls. On 16 January 1928, the junior boarders were installed at Katugastota with a solemn planting of trees to commemorate the event. The verandah of the old walauwa served as a chapel.

Fr. D.D. Barsenbach, OSB, was appointed Director of Boarders in 1937. Classes were started for the boarders and others who cared to come over. Two lads came all the way past the Kandy school to be in the temporary classes. During the first few years the school held classes from kindergarten up to Cambridge Junior, with a staff of about twelve, gradually increasing the range to the London Matriculation and an Inter-Arts form. In 1929, Fr. Hyde had the first permanent set of open classrooms erected alongside the river, which today houses the primary school. In 1934, St. Anthony's obtained the best results in the British Empire with 100% passes in the London Matriculation Examination. Twelve candidates were presented for the Examination and all passed. Healthy rivalry was enjoyed by the Katugastota boys with their counterparts from the Kandy school in the matter of success at the Examinations, and more often than not, the Kandy youngsters had to congratulate the Katugastota lads on their performance.

In 1935, Fr. Hyde completed the main building block of the school and its counterpart running parallel to it. They stand tall to this day to his credit. The hostellers, who had by then increased to about 150, had their dormitories upstairs in the main block while the Office; Hall, Library and Chapel were on the ground floor. The smaller section behind which then consisted of a single storey, contained dining rooms and some classrooms. The playing field too was gradually expanded to its present size, thanks to Fr. Van Reyk's share in it. Fr. Robert Perera had the first Pavilion built at this time.

On 1 November 1941, the Kandy branch was officially separated from St. Anthony's College, now well established at Katugastota, and a new school, St. Sylvester's College, was established with Fr. Robert Perera as the first Principal. During his tenure of 23 years (1921â€"1943) as Principal of St. Anthony's, Fr. Lawrence Hyde achieved spectacular triumphs in the academic field as well as in sports. On the eve of his career as Principal, World War II brought a dark period through the military occupation of the College. The total student population shrank to about 300 of which about 50 were boarders. Fr. Hyde's tenure as Principal remains the longest, to date.

In 1944, Fr. Angelo Rosati became Principal, being nominated by Fr. Hyde to carry on the task he had begun in a manner that would raise the prestige of the College as an educational institution of high standards and also restore the reputation for sports, which had been sidelined for four years during military occupation of the College. When the release of the buildings and the playing field came around 1946, one of the first innovations conceived by Fr. Theophane Wickramaratne, who led the return of the boys to the premises, was the adoption of a cottage system for hostel accommodation. Fr. Theophane was also either instrumental or involved in the construction of many other College buildings such as "The Rainbow Cottages", The Tuck Shop", "The Chapel", "Mansion", "Villa", "Infirmary" and "The Refectory". Living in small groups, in separate cottages had not only provided a homely atmosphere but also promoted greater fellowship and understanding. Fr. Rosati reconditioned several military huts into living quarters for the boarders and appointed school matrons to be in charge of the physical cleanliness of the boys and the sanitary features of each hostel block. This change had been so effectual in the achievement of greater performance both in work and play and led to a reduction of illness among the boarders. The student population grew to a near 1,600 with a teaching staff of 70, during this period. Classes were conducted in English, Sinhala and Tamil media for all subjects from Grade 1 to University Entrance. 1954 was celebrated as the Centenary year.

The third fifty years

The Centenary Hall was funded by late Alhaj Harideen of Madawala Bazaar also blessed by the Rt. Rev. Dom Bernard Regno, O.S.B., Bishop of Kandy and declared open by the Rt. Hon. Sir Oliver Goonetilleke, C.M.E. Governor General of Ceylon, on 5 September 1957. Six days later Fr. Rosati having visited the College Hall, collapsed on his way back to his room and breathed his last shortly thereafter, sending shock waves throughout the country. Father Hilarion Rudolph, a Graduate of the University of Oxford, came to St. Anthony's as Principal in 1957. In 1961, Fr. Rudolph handed over the reins to Fr. D.I. Robinson, OSB, who was at the time Warden of the “Mansion” boarding and also Teacher of English. It was during this time that the school’s takeover was announced. The government later permitted the College to continue, but non-fee levying. This was a period of great hardship, overcome in large measure by the support of the old boys. Many were the instances when Fr. Robinson, accompanied by Mr. Victor Perera, President of the Old Boys Association, and later a Judge of the Supreme Court, had to visit alumni, parents and well wishers for donations to keep the College functioning. The College Choir, ably trained and led by Mr. Cyril Brown, also brought many trophies to the College mantle. Fr. Robinson also had the support of several other Benedictine Priests in Fr. Valentine, Fr. Thomas and Fr. Lanfranc, in running the Boarding which had by that time attracted over 500 students from all parts of the Island, including a sizeable number from Colombo.

In 1967, an Old Antonian, Fr. Aidan de Silva, OSB, was appointed Principal following Dr. Robinson. Hard-pressed by the restrictions imposed upon the College as a non-fee levying institution, he organized a donation of five years for each new admission to school, thus enabling an input of funds. Besides giving the school buildings a complete repair, he built the swimming pool, a new Math Laboratory and six modern classrooms. Fr. Aidan, President of the Old Boys Association, was also instrumental in recommencing the regular publication of The Antonian school magazine.

In 1977 St. Anthony's College, Kandy changed its identity, when the school was handed over to the government by the then Bishop of Kandy. In 1977 Fr. Aidan de Silva retired and Fr. Lanfranc Amerasinghe, OSB, who was warden of hostels took over as the Principal. In 1979 control was handed to Fr. Stephen Abraham, OSB, who had to manage the school with limited resources. The hostel was run independent of the school, by the Benedictine Fathers, who also had the income generating sections â€" the hall, the swimming pool and the tuck shop â€" under their jurisdiction. The Hon. R. Premadasa, Prime Minister at the time, donated a two-story block of classrooms, which forms one wing of the school and is called the “Premadasa Block”. In 1982 the Colombo branch of the OBA undertook a gigantic task when, under the presidency of the then minister of Power and Energy, K.D.M.C. Bandara, they embarked on a project to develop an Indoor Sports and Pavilion Complex at the Katugastota grounds. However, with the communal troubles the country faced since 1983, raising funds became a difficult task up to about 1989. The project, the Bishop Leo Nanayakkara Sports and Pavilion Complex, was planned in three stages. The first stage consisting of a gymnasium, badminton and table tennis courts was finally completed in 1991 with the help of funds collected by the old boys and Fr. Stephen Abraham. In March 1992 this Sports Complex was officially opened by Mr. K.D.M.C. Bandara and handed over for use by the College. The College Diary was re-introduced in 1987 after a lapse of several years, and has continued to be published annually. The second stage of the project, which consisted of accommodation for visiting teams, a sports pavilion and public stands was named Jack Anderson Pavilion, after the legendary St. Anthony's cricketer. Fund raising for this stage was spearheaded by Fr. Abraham and Minister K.D.M.C Bandara. A total sum of around 4 million rupees was raised through donations from parents, old boys, well wishers, and from fund-raisers in Colombo and a carnival in Kandy. This effort enabled the building to take a shell-shape within a period of just four months and was opened by Rev. Fr. Stephen Abraham in March 1993 to commemorate the 75th year of Jack Anderson’s unbroken record of 291 runs in a school match against St. Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia. The construction was completed in 1993, and has since, been used by the College as its main Pavilion. Work on the third and final stage of the complex commenced in 1994. In 1989 Fr. Stephen Abraham celebrated his Sacerdotal Silver Jubilee (25 years of Priesthood) by building 25 houses for the minor staff naming the complex “Anthony Gammana”, which is a model-housing scheme. The Department of Education in recognition of the success St. Anthony’s had achieved under Fr. Stephen Abraham, approved the construction of a new three-storey block of buildings at a cost of 8 million rupees, in 1994. Having served as Principal for sixteen long years (1979â€"1994), Fr. Abraham retired, content with what he had achieved for St. Anthony’s College Kandy. He was the second longest serving Principal, next to Fr. Lawrence Hyde. Fr. Hilarion Fernando, OSB, succeeded Fr. Abraham in April 1994, as the twenty-seventh Principal of St. Anthony’s College, in its 140th year, and completes ten years in the seat on this auspicious occasion of the Sesquicentennial of College. Prior to his appointment as Principal, Fr. Hilarion served as Warden of Hostels from 1983â€"1991, and as Principal of the Primary Department from 1990â€"1994.

The College Council, inaugurated in 1972, functioned continuously as the supreme body of decision making on matters pertaining to College within the frame of rules and regulations of the Department of Education. The Council consists of twelve members at present, headed by Rev. Fr. Principal and including Prefect of Discipline, Prefect of Games, Sectional Heads and Staff Guild President. The Sports Council, which was formed subsequently, continues to govern on all matters relating to sports. Headed by Rev. Fr. Principal, the Council consists of Masters in Charge and Coaches each sport. The third and final stage of the “Bishop Leo Nanayakkara Sports and Pavilion Complex”, was completed in 2000, with the Badminton Courts within the complex being upgraded with Air-cushioned flooring in 1999, to accommodate National Tournaments. The three storeyed block in the upper school was completed in 2001. The “Sesquicentennial Block” of classrooms in the quadrangular was completed with the assistance of parents of the upper school, in 2003. The Primary section too received a new block of four classrooms and a computer laboratory in 2002 with financial assistance from the Central Provincial Ministry. Computers and related equipment for the laboratory were obtained through funds collected by parents of the Primary section. A new ‘Jubilee Building’ was constructed for the Primary in 2003, through the collective efforts of the parents.

The student population in the last ten years has averaged 2,700, with 2100 in the Sinhala Medium and 600 in the Tamil Medium. The Academic Staff has progressively increased with development of curriculum, to number 126 as at 2003. The Non-academic Staff counts 36 employees. National Examinations sow an increase in passes at the G.C.E. (O/L), from 66% in 1990 to 90% in 2002, in the Sinhala medium, and from 33% to 95% in the Tamil medium. Both mediums have also recorded rapid increases at the G.C.E. (A/L) examinations. Antonian Undergraduates at the Peradeniya Campus alone, counted over 150 in all Faculties, in 2003. The opportunities are many for every Antonian student to participate in a variety of co-curricular activities, especially in sports. The College also believes that religion is an essential and indispensable requisite for the moral and intellectual formation of a child, all denominations are given equal right to practice their faith without discrimination. The Catholic Students Federation, Buddhist Students Union, Hindu Society and Islamic Majilis play a vital role, inculcating spiritual values through the conduct of religious programmes.

Several Cultural Societies contribute in motivating students to participate in a variety of activities such as Dancing, Music, Art, Drama and Oration. Several have even won prizes and trophies in All-Island competitions, in both Sinhala and Tamil mediums, bringing additional fame to St. Anthony's College, Katugastota. The Boarding, which continues to be administered by the O.S.B. Monks independent of the Education sector, has seen a drastic drop in numbers, primarily due to the "2-mile-radius" rule for admission of new students. The total number of Boarders in 2003, barely counted 100. The OBA, Colombo Branch, appointed a Sub committee of 'Ex-Boarders' in 2003, to rally round as many past boarders, with the objective of restoring the facilities to its previous best. This is the first ever known body of Ex-Boarders. The Old Boys Association (SACKOBA), with Branches in Colombo, Nuwara Eliya, Australia, Canada and England, have provided much support to the College authorities and students over the years. The annual highlight of all the OBA functions; is the "SACKOBA BALL", a grand dinner-dance organized by the Colombo Branch to raise funds for its supportive activities each year. Old Antonians in prominent positions of life throughout the world, keep increasing each year, with a distinct common yearning from each and everyone, to revisit their Alma Mater and reminisce their childhood at this mighty seat of education.

Principals of St. Anthony's College

St. Anthony's College, Kandy
  • 1854â€"1856 Rev. Fr. Felice Zoppi, OSF (Founder)
  • 1856â€"1869 Under supervision of Parish Priests, the school had a succession of laymen who functioned as administrators during this period. They were: Messrs Poorey, Peiris, De Silva, Fernando, A. Staples, Geddes and Paul.
  • 1870â€"1871 Irish Christian Brothers (Rev. Bros. John & Paul)
  • 1871â€"1872 Mr. W. Hopp (Administrative Head)
  • 1872â€"1874 Mr. J. Jorden (Administrative Head)
  • 1875â€"1876 Rev. Fr. D.H. Vanderstraaten, OSB (Lateran Basilica)
  • 1876â€"1877 Rev. Fr. Paul Perera, OSB
  • 1877â€"1879 Rev. Fr. Dom Maurus Craner, OSB
  • 1880â€"1892 Mr. R.P. Jansz (Head Master)
  • 1892â€"1898 Rev. Fr. D.H. Leitan, OSB
  • 1898â€"1906 Rev. Fr. M. Craner, OSB
  • 1907â€"1914 Rev. Fr. Dom Philip Caspersz, OSB
  • 1915â€"1916 Rev. Fr. Basil Hyde, OSB
  • 1916â€"1921 Rev. Fr. James Caspersz, OSB
  • 1921â€"1943 Rev. Fr. Lawrence Hyde, OSB
  • 1944â€"1957 Rev. Fr. D. Rosati, OSB (University of London)
  • 1957â€"1961 Rev. Fr. Hilarion Rudolph, OSB (University of Oxford)
  • 1961â€"1967 Rev. Fr. D.I. Robinson, OSB
  • 1968â€"1977 Rev. Fr. Aidan DeSilva, OSB
  • 1977â€"1979 Rev. Fr. D. Lanfranc Amerasinghe, OSB
  • 1979â€"1994 Rev. Fr. Dom Stephen Abraham, OSB
  • 1994â€"2005 Rev. Fr. Dom Hilarion Fernando, OSB
  • 2005â€"2013 Rev. Fr. B.K.Titus Herbert Rodrigo, OSB
  • 2013â€"present Rev. Fr. Henry Bernad Wijerathne, OSB

College Anthem (Sports Anthem)

St. Anthony's College, Kandy

Rally round the banner of the College,
Rally round the Maroon, Double Blue,
Antonians young, Antonians old,
Your voices ring out "Lux de Coelo"…..,
Matches may be won or lost,
Never mind defeat……,
Should all our records be forgotten?,
No… no… no… no… no…,
Antonians will be there………,
Antonians will be there!

Former College Anthem

Sweet childhood home, our alma mater blest
Foster Mother and nurse, the school we love the best
Let's sing our praises till our voices echo
In distant hills and plains and Lanka's distant shores
Till they spread beyond to lands far and wide,
In mighty waves that rise in swelling tide
With youthful voices that in chorus sing
And with our hearts our praises bring

Forward, Forward to the fore
The school we love and cherish
By sorrow undismayed
By success over swayed
The light from heaven shall guide us,
The strength of arm shall aid us
To range to the fore, Antonians, to the fore
The school we love to the Fore.

(Composed by Mr.Cyril Brown)


The flag colors of the College:

  • Maroon
  • Light Blue
  • Dark Blue


The Motto of St. Anthony's College -" Lux de Coelo", translated - "Light from Heaven", was taken from a Prayer sent to the College, as its inception, from the Vatican.

Hymn to St. Anthony

Maroon, light & dark blue banners,
Are the standards we preserve,
Loyal proud & brave Antonians,
Our dear alma mater serve.

Dear St. Anthony our patron,
Guide our steps & keep us free,
Lux de Coelo, Light from Heaven,
Is the gift we ask of thee.

Loss or victory notwithstanding,
We shall always be the same,
Striving earnestly to prosper
Our dear Alma Mater's name.

Anthony our powerful mentor,
Guide & our protector be,
'Lux de Coelo' Light from Heaven,
May this be our Victory.

(Composed by Rev. Fr. Stephen Abraham O.S.B.)


The students are divided into four Houses:

  • Maroon     
  • Light Blue     
  • Dark Blue     
  • Double Blue         

The names are derived from the flag colors of the College. The houses compete in all major games to win the inter-house games.

Boarding Houses at St.Anthony's

  • Rainbow Cottage
  • Lodge
  • Villa
  • Mansion

Antonian Awards

  • Bede Gold Medal - Most Outstanding All-Round Student
  • Antonian Eagle - For excellence in sports (International and National level)
  • Antonian Wing - For excellence in sports (All Island or Zonal level)
  • Rosati Gold Medal

Antonian Awards for Excellence â€" 2004

After several rounds of deliberations spanning a period of three years, involving SACKOBA (Colombo Branch), the Parent Body and the School Authorities, a programme was formulated to recognize Old Antonians who have brought honour to themselves and their Alma Mater by achieving excellence in the various fields of activity they are engaged in. A major criterion here was their integrity, the perception of their achievements and the esteem in which they are held, by the public. The selection was made from nominations sent in from Antonians around the world. The selection process was carried out by a select committee, represented by the Parent Body, the Colombo Branch, prominent Old Boys and the College Authorities. The Presentation Ceremony of the inaugural "Antonian Excellence Awards" was scheduled for Thursday, 18 March 2004, in the College Hall, amongst a large and distinguished gathering. All award winners were presented with a Certificate and the "Antonian Excellence Medallion".

Notable alumni

See also

  • Trinity-Antonian Cricket Encounter
  • List of schools in Central Province, Sri Lanka


External links

  • Group 93
  • St. Anthony’s College Official website
  • The Antonian Community
  • Official Facebook Group
  • Glory of 168 Years: St.Anthony's College Kandy

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