Fr. Marcelline Jayakody (June 3, 1902─ January 15, 1998) was a well-known Sri Lankan Catholic priest, musician, lyricist, author, journalist and patriot, and an exponent of indigenous culture who, according to a former High Court Judge, directed the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka towards the mainstream of national life. Biographer Judge Fernando honors Jayakody by writing:
[No other Catholic prelate or priest in Sri Lanka has touched the hearts and lives of both Catholics and non-Catholics alike like Fr. Marcelline Jayakody. Sincere to God and sincere to man Fr. Marcelline Jayakody was a legend in his life time.]
Passion Play of Duwa
Fr. Jayakody served as the head priest in Duwa in 1939. Duwa is the Passion Play Village in Sri Lanka. A Passion Play is a religious drama of medieval origin dealing with the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Originally, the Play used traditional puppets as actors for Duwa Passion play. Jayakody wrote original script for a Passion play influenced by Fr. Jacome Gonsalves and composed new hymns to the traditional `Pasan`. Next, he introduced live male and female actors for puppets. Eventually there were over 250 live actors taking the place of puppets in his adaptation of Dorothy L. Sayers`s The Man Born to be King [Dukprathi Prasangaya in Sinhala]. The Duwa passion play was considered as the greatest Passion show in Asia at that time.
In 1979 his poetry book Muthu (pearls) won the National State Literary Award (the first catholic priest to have won state award ).
In 1982 He was honored with the `Kalasuri` title by the State and `Kithu Nandana Pranamaya` by the Catholic Church for his magnificent contributions to arts and culture for over six decades.
In 1983 He won the `Ramon Magsaysay Award` considered the Asian Noble Prize, (along with 20,000 US$, a Medal and a Citation) in Manila, Philippines as the first Catholic priest.
Won the international OCIC(Catholic Film Office) and the International UNDA (Radio & Television Homage Awards)l
The Kavya Mahopadya award from National Poets Union and Kavya and Literary Shiromani from Vidyalankara Pirivena.