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Groundbreaking ceremony for cathedral in Bahrain
June 18, 2018, 10:14 am
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On 9 June, a ceremony was held to mark the start of construction of Bahrain’s first Catholic cathedral, part of a US$30 million Catholic Church complex to be built in Awali, a municipality that lies in central Bahrain. The event was attended by the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Francisco Padilla, His Lordship Bishop Camillo Ballin the Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia, members of the diplomatic corps and high-ranking officials from the Government, along with over 1,500 people, including pastors of non-Catholic Churches and worshippers from the region. The ceremony also witnessed the unveiling of a plaque and the laying of a time capsule with the record of the event.

The date 9 June, holds special significance for Catholics in the region as it was on this day in 1939 that the first church in the Gulf, often referred to as the ‘Mother Church’ was established in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, and which still stands to this day.

The new Catholic Church complex is being built on 9,000 sqm of land donated by the King of Bahrain, His Majesty King Hamad bin Issa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and its construction is slated to finish by mid-2021.

The Cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of Arabia and is under the diocese of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, which comprises of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. While spacious enough to contain 2,300 people, the new church replicates the shape of a tent in tribute to the memory of the faithful who used to pray in special tents on their travels through the desert to reach the Holy Land.

The first phase of the complex will see the construction of the cathedral and an auditorium at a cost of over $13 million. The second part of the project will encompass the rest of the complex, including the Bishop House and other facilities such as a car park for 480 vehicles, conference halls, state-of-the-art pastoral center and a dormitory.

The project is funded fully by donations from charitable people regardless of nationality or religion from across the Middle East.  

In a message to The Times on the event, H.L. Bishop Camillo Ballin, said, “The beginning of the construction of the cathedral is a very strong encouragement for people to remain true to their faith, and it encourages peaceful co-existence among people of all faiths.”

Once it is built, the cathedral will be an iconic building and a source of pride for everyone in Bahrain, and it will invite the faithful to be closer to God.

 

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