The Vatican has conferred the status of a Minor Basilica to Zimbabwe’s St Mary’s Cathedral in the country’s second largest city of Bulawayo in recognition of its history, architectural beauty and the formation of faith.
Bulawayo Archbishop Alex Thomas described the conferment of the status by the 77 year old Roman Catholic Pope Francis as a blessing and privilege to the catholic family in Zimbabwe, in an interview with the Bulawayo based Radio Dialogue.
“This is a tremendous status and this is the first Minor Basilica in the Southern region, the closest one is in Kenya and so this is a unique privilege to the country and the region,” said Thomas.
Archbishop Thomas described the criteria of conferment of the basilica status as a sign that the church has played an important role in the evangelisation of the local societies and the country at large as well as the attraction of large numbers of pilgrims.
“Our mass celebrations in any given Sunday attract over 1 000 congregants and the St Mary will now be a center where Catholic teachings are taught, counselling and confession,” said Thomas.
Most Basilicas around the world also serve as tourists attractions in their countries because of their historical significance and as such it is expected that St Mary’s will bring economic benefits to the community of Bulawayo and the country at large.
St Mary’s which becomes the 17th Basilica in Africa was built in 1903 and is past a century in age at 110 years, this year.
Several considerations are looked into at designating a Minor Basilica and among them is the demonstration of its magnificence to the Sacred Congregation of Rites, it must be a notable religious centre.
Below is a list of the Basilicas in Africa, St Mary’s included:
Basilica of our Lord of Africa
Basilica of St Augustine
Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Benin
Basilica of Marry Queen of the Apostles Cameroun
Basilica of our lady of peace
Basilica of St Theresa of the Child Jesus Egypt
Cathedral of our lady of Fatima
St Peters Cathedral Basilica
Cathedral Basilica of our Lady of Seven Sorrows Ghana
Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family Kenya
Cathedral Basilica of the Most Holy Nigeria
Cathedral Basilica of our Lady
Basilica of Our Lady of Deliverance
Cathedral of St Louis
Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Uganda
Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs Uganda
St Mary’s Cathedral