Our Proud History

St. Joseph's College

St. Joseph’s College was founded with one purpose – to build a space for all students to grow, learn and create with each passing day. Through a unique teaching approach and a truly passionate staff, we help students develop academically and personally to the highest level.

Vision of the College

Guided by the life, the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ and inspired by the Josephina Motto – ‘Through Knowledge and Virtue’. We are conscious of our mission to serve the people of God.

Mission of the College

To achieve excellence in education by making College one of Sri Lanka’s best educational institutions, by fostering education which promotes spiritual and human values, thus producing good citizens who have the knowledge, skills and aptitudes to serve the community in the public and private sector in the professions and in self employment.

College Crest

Cross on the elephant

The Catholic Sri Lankan Identity

Three Lilies of St. Joseph

 Faith, Hope & Charity

(The Cardinal Values)

The Open Book

Book of Wisdom and Knowledge

The Inscription on the Book

“Fiat Lux”

Let there be light

College Motto

“In Scientia Et Virtue”

In Knowledge and in Virtue

College Flag

White – The symbol of Divinity

Blue – The symbol of Humanity

College Anthem

The College Anthem entitled “White and Blue” was written by Rev. Fr. J. M. Lanigam, a great friend of Fr. Charles Collin, the first Rector. Music for the anthem was composed by   Mr. Edgar Neydoff. Although the College Anthem was written during the last year (1916) of the Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Charles Collin O.M.I. the anthem was sung during the 2nd term of   Rectorship (1920) of Rev. Fr. Maurice Legoc O.M.I. The Original Manuscript is dated 25th  November 1920.

Our Proud History

On 2nd March 2021 St. Joseph’s College celebrated 125 years. Tracing the College’s origins and proud achievements, there isn’t a better time to track 117 years of evolution, stemming from a seed sown by the then Archbishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Dr. Christopher Bonjean in 1892 the idea of a Catholic College. Unfortunately the Most Rev. Fr. Bonjean did not live through to see his vision come alive. But the good York was carried out by Rev. Fr. Charles Collin and Rev. Fr. Charles Lyntten, both who went on to be Rectors of the College.

The original plan was for the building of a Catholic College in a land at Mattakkuliya, which eventually evolved into the property at Darley Road as the chosen site. 12 acres as it stands now.


With the foundation stone laid in December 1894, by the Papal Delegate for Asia, Rev. Msgr. St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, was declared open on the 2nd of March 1896. From a humble beginning of an initial 211 students in the school proper and 96 students in the preparatory school, Rev. Fr. Charles Collin, quite fittingly was appointed the First Rector. The College building was formally declared open by Governor of Ceylon West Ridgeway and was blessed by Most Rev. Msgr. Zaleski, and the Archbishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Melizan OMI gracing the occasion.

The Rector’s office, the College office and the classrooms were all housed in the first building – the Clock Tower Building of the College, housing the classrooms, the Rector’s office and the College offices. The College magazine was started in 1905. The Bonjean Hall was the third building to be completed, by Rev. Fr. Charles Lytten, the second Rector, a glowing tribute, perhaps the least, to Fr. Bonjean, a great visionary.

Rector, Rev. Fr. Emil Nicholas OMI was the third Rector appointed in 1912. One of Rev. Fr. Emil Nicholas’ greatest achievements was the creation of the first Religious Association of the College – the Guild of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which most students past and present our proud members of.

Four years later, in 1919, another legendary educationist, scientist and efficient administrator Rev. Fr. Maurice J. Legoc OMI was appointed the fourth Rector. Continuing the expansion to meet the growing demand for education, in 1933, the present Primary Building – originally named “The Maurice Block”, became the newest addition. It was a replica of the Bonjean Hall adding symmetry aesthetics and architectural marvel to the sprawling facility. The next large expansion was the South Wing, a two-storied building to house classrooms.

Being a scientist, Rev. Fr. Legoc in the 1930’s could foresee the significance of Science in education and its role in a changing world. He took leadership in placing great emphasis on incorporating Science subjects into the curriculum As a Botanist, he published “Tropical Botany” a text that was widely known in Ordinary Level classes, both in India and Sri Lanka. Fr. Legoc was also responsible and introduced a scheme of scholarships for the under privileged students, making a difference to the lives of the needy and that of the future generations. Fr. Legoc’s vision was to widen the provision of education, continuing to make a difference to the lives of those we had to reach. The initiative saw the birth of,

(a) St. Joseph’s College South, later St. Peter’s College in 1922

(b) St. Paul’s College, Waragoda (1935)

(c) St. John’s College, Dematagoda (1939)

On the feast of St. Joseph, 19th March 1929, the foundation stone for the College Chapel was laid by the Archbishop of Colombo, yet, another unrivalled architectural marvel, a building with splendour, no columns and acoustic brilliance, one of its kind, the very few in the world, even in today’s day and age.

Rev. Fr. Peter Pillai OMI was the fifth Rector, from 1940 to 1961, the first Sri Lankan, a great scholar widely respected in Asia. The Grotto at St. Joseph’s, a replica of the Grotto in Lourdes, France, was built in 1940. The College buildings were taken over by the Army during World War II, but the institution continued education with branches housed in Homagama, Kelaniya, Gampaha and later at Borella.


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