Saturday, 13 July 2013

Somalia's Cathedral: Past and Present

As Somalia's only Diocese- the Diocese of Mogadishu- encompasses the entire country, there was only need of one Cathedral in the country. The Cathedral was built in the city of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital city.

Built by Italian Colonials in the then colony of Italian Somaliland, construction started in 1925 and the Cathedral was officially opened on March the 1st 1928. Built in the Norman Gothic style, it was based on the Cathedral of Cefalù in Sicily. In it's time, it was the largest Cathedral in Africa.

The building was built in the shape of a Latin Cross, the inside had three naves divided by pillars with pointed arches. Originally entrusted to the Consolata Missionaries, the Cathedral was later entrusted to the Friars Minor or Franciscans.

It was in this Cathedral that Somalia's one, and so far only Bishop, was murdered in while saying Mass.

During the civil war, which started in the early 1990's, the Cathedral was terribly damaged, and practically destroyed by Islamic Fundamentalists.

Today the Cathedral is inhabited by various homeless people, displaced by the on going conflict in Somalia. A BBC Correspondent visited the site of the Cathedral in 2012, stating that despite the fact the roof of the Cathedral had been blown off and that the building had sustained significant structural damage, the walls still remain intact as well as the stone arches.

Earlier this year, Bishop Bertin OFM, the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Mogadishu, managed to pay a visit to Mogadishu after years of being unable to do so, due to the insecurity of the region. His visit had a number of purposes, one of which was to inspect the Cathedral and to see about recovering the building.

Please pray that soon God may deign to raise up a strong and fervent Church in Somalia- and that this once beautiful Cathedral may once again resound with the praise of God- from the voices of His Somali children!

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