Cardinal Tagle inaugurates the largest cathedral in the Persian Gulf


On December 10, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, head of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, consecrated the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia in Bahrain, the newest and largest cathedral in the Persian Gulf region .

So far, church officials have said Bahrain has only one church in the capital, Manama, and a chapel in the suburbs to serve the country’s more than 90,000 Catholics. This required the celebration of 25 masses on weekends in the parish of Manama from Friday to Sunday. Cardinal Tagle joined the choir chanting “Spirit, wash me, purify me, refresh me and fill me again” as he sprinkled clergy and parishioners with holy water and sanctified the cathedral for his service. “Dear brothers and sisters, as we solemnly consecrate this house, let us humbly invoke the Lord our God to bless this water that he created … will be purified,” Cardinal Tagle said. support with his grace so that, docile to the Spirit whom we have received, we may remain faithful in his church. “with our merciful Father. God is impatiently waiting for you. It would be a shame to have a beautiful house without anyone. live there, “the cardinal told the international faithful during his homily.” But with your frequent spiritual meetings here, whoever enters will feel, breathe and touch the love and warmth of the family of God. … While the construction of a building is coming to an end, the construction of the church as a community never ends, “Cardinal Tagle said. He encouraged parishioners to care deeply about one another, listen carefully the word of God and has it ppl, and offer charitable services to those in need. important monument to the Christian faith in response to the increase in the Catholic population of the Gulf region, now estimated at 2.5 million. Catholics in Bahrain come mainly from the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka. South Americans, Europeans and Arabs from the Levant region make up the remainder of the island’s Christian population. Earlier, Father Saji Thomas, head of the cathedral project and pastor of the parish, told the media that people were “enthusiastic and happy” for the inauguration and blessing of the cathedral. The Indian priest described the cathedral as “a model of religious harmony, a sign of the tolerance of the Kingdom of Bahrain and a great example of peaceful coexistence in the world”.

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The arch-shaped cathedral can accommodate 2,300 worshipers and serves the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and officially Saudi Arabia. Located in Awali, 25 kilometers south of Manama, the 2.2 square acre land was donated by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain eight years ago. Two chapels and two other large rooms with places of confession and spiritual formation are part of the complex. In an invitation issued by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, on November 25, the King invited Pope Francis to visit, stressing the importance placed on interreligious dialogue and understanding between different cultures and civilizations. The king also approved the Document on Human Fraternity for Peace in the World and Living Together, signed in Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2019 by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of the Egyptian Mosque Al- Azhar. Bishop Paul Hinder is the Apostolic Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of South Arabia, based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and currently serves in that capacity for North Arabia, following the death in April 2020 of Bishop Camillo Ballin, the driving force behind the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia project. Bishop Hinder has requested prayers for Cardinal Tagle, who will advise on the appointment of the new bishop for the vicariate. “In particular, we ask him to convey our love and greetings to the Holy Father … and to tell him the wonderful history of Bahrain and … the reality of the faithful here.” In 2011, the Vatican officially proclaimed Our Lady of Arabia as the Catholic Patron Saint of the Vicariate. One of the chapels is dedicated to the crowned Mary holding a rosary and to the Child Jesus. The apse of the cathedral presents biblical iconographic scenes from the Nativity of Jesus Christ to the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. The cathedral is topped by an octagonal dome – a geometric detail found in several churches around the world, such as the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy and the Cathedral of Aachen in Germany. The number eight in Christianity signifies the resurrection and a new beginning.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, representing his father, the King of Bahrain, inaugurated the cathedral on December 9 in the presence of Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop Eugene M. Nugent, apostolic nuncio to Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, from Bishop Hinder, clergy and religious who also participated in the consecration.

Due to existing restrictions on coronaviruses, only a small number of people could participate in both the solemn dedication and dedication events, but more than 1,400 people attended the Consecration Mass online. Known as a trading nation, Bahrain has emerged as a hub for airlines, oil and banking companies attracting foreigners, who currently make up about half of the 1.41 million population.

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