VATICAN - The Month of Mary - Marian Shrines in Africa (3): Angola, Benin, Burkina-Faso

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Vatican City (Fides Service) - ANGOLA “Land of Mary”.
L’Angola viene chiamata la terra di Maria. The first Catholic missionaries, who were Portuguese, arrived in Angola on, 29 April 1491, and built a church dedicated to Nossa Senhora Santa Maria, Our Lady Saint Mary. Today Angola has over 100 churches and chapels dedicated to the Mother of God. We mention four of the most famous; Our Lady of Fatima, in Luanda built by Capuchin missionaries in inaugurated in December 1964; Marian Shrine of Muxima, Bengo province; another Our Lady of Fatima at a Nova Lisboa; Nossa Senhora do Monte Our Lady of the Mount, at Sa Da Bandiera.
The names in Portuguese are a legacy from the Portuguese missionaries who were the first to evangelise this land and other parts of Africa. With regard to evangelisation in Africa we cite John Paul II in his apostolic Letter “Tertio Millennio Adveniente”: “ In Africa, where the first proclamation of the Gospel also dates back to Apostolic times, together with the 1650th anniversary of the episcopal consecration of the first Bishop of the Ethiopians, Saint Frumentius (c. 340), and the five hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the evangelisation of Angola in the ancient Kingdom of the Congo (1491), nations such as Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, the Central African Republic, Burundi and Burkina Faso are celebrating the centenaries of the arrival of the first missionaries in their respective territories.…” For more than five hundred years Angola has been a Land of Mary
BENIN: The Grotto of Dassa, the shrine of Our Lady of Arigbo, consecrated in 1954, soon became a place of national pilgrimage and then international. Pilgrims flock here from other parts of Benin, as well as from neighbouring Togo, Niger and Burkina-Faso on 15 August to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. A large church under construction will be twinned with the first Church in the Christian West to be dedicated to Mary Mother of God, St Mary's major Basilica in Rome.
BURKINA-FASO. Our Lady of Lourdes at Yagma. In 1968 a site about fifteen km from the capital Ouagadougou, called Yagma hill was chosen for a reproduction of the Grotto of Lourdes. Once built the Grotto soon became a place of national pilgrimage. Today each parish in Burkina has its own day for the annual pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lourdes. The large crowds are not in the least discouraged by the fact that there is little shade and they are most of the time in the sunshine during the long outdoor masses. Several years ago construction work began for a large church at the foot of the hill.
Other Marian shrines in Burkina-Faso: Our Lady of Dingasso, Bobo-Dioulasso diocese; Our Lady of Peace, Diebougou diocese; Our Lady of Louda diocese of Kaya; Our Lady of Reconciliation, diocese of Koudougou; Our Lady of Lake Bam, diocese of Ouahigouya. (J.M.) (Agenzia Fides 26/5/2007; righe 36, parole 500)