Onitsha Cathedral becomes Nigeria’s first minor basilica

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Onitsha Cathedral becomes Nigeria’s first minor basilica

A solemn celebration was held on Saturday to inaugurate the first Minor Basilica in Nigeria, the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity in Onitsha, in the province of Anambra, reports CISA News.

The Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity is located in the southern part of the city and is the first Catholic cathedral east of the Niger.It is constructed on a part of the 20 acres of land donated to the first Catholic missionaries to the country by local authorities on January 6, 1886.

The Basilica holds the relics of the Nigerian saint, Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi, and the remains of the late bishops Joseph Shanahan, Charles Heerey and Stephen Ezeanya.

In 1920, Bishop Shanahan initiated construction of the modern-day Basilica, which was completed in 1935 by his successor, Archbishop Heerey. The cathedral was dedicated on December 5, 1960, and later declared a Minor Basilica on May 28, 2007.

The canonical title of “basilica” is bestowed on those churches that correspond to certain requirements and are granted liturgical privileges accordingly. A Basilica can also become a pilgrimage site.

With the establishment of the basilica in Onitsha, there are now 15 churches in Africa that share the title of Minor Basilica. They are: the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa of Argel (c. 1875); the Basilica of Saint Augustine, in the Diocese of Hippo (c. 1914); St. Cyprian y St. Luis, in the diocese of Carthage, which later became a national museum; the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lodonga, Uganda (c. May 26, 1961), and the Basilica of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus in the Latin Diocese of Cairo, Egypt (February 8, 1972).

Others are the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Nairobi, Kenya (February 15, 1982); Immaculate Conception Church in Ouidah (Cotonou), Benin (November 9, 1989); Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, in the Ivory Coast (October 30, 1990), which is the largest Christian church in the world, using Saint Peter’s in Rome; the Basilica of “Notre Dame” in Poponguine, in the Archdiocese of Dakar, Senegal (November 23, 1991), and the Cathedral of Kabagayi, Rwanda (October 22, 1992).

Others are “Our Lady of Fatima” in Heliópolis, Chaldean Diocese of Cairo (April 6, 1993); Holy Martyrs of Uganda Church in Namugongo, Archdiocese of Kampala (April 28, 1993); Saint Peter’s Cathedral, Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana (June 2, 2004); Cathedral of the Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga, Ghana (May 17, 2006); and finally, Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity in Onitsha, Nigeria (May 28, 2007).

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