“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Africa

If you were to visit Algiers today, you would find a much different country than in years past. Although Algiers today is very much a Muslim country, it was not so for many centuries. In the 2nd century it was ruled by the Romans and part of the larger Roman Empire. In the 3rd century, after the legalization of Christianity by Emperor Constantine, it was a strong and vibrant Christian community. It would remain a Christian land until the Arab invasions centuries later. Algiers is the birthplace and residence of Saint Augustine of Hippo.

When the first Bishop arrived in Algiers, after the French reestablished their presence in the land in the early 19th century, there was no church and the local population was hostile to them being there. Since there was no money to build a church, Bishop Dupuch returned to France in order to seek donations to build one. In Lyon, France, the Sodality of Our Lady presented the bishop with a bronze statue of the Immaculate Conception. The sodality gave him the statue in hopes that it would be the protector of both the Muslims and the native people of the region.

The statue was first brought to Algiers from France in 1840, where it was given to the Cistercian monks of Staueli for safe keeping. It was eventually enshrined in the newly built basilica by the founder of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (White Sisters), Cardinal Charles Martial Allemand Lavigiers. The Basilica of Our Lady of Africa (Notre Dame d’Afrigue) took fourteen years to build. It was built in a Neo-Byzantine architecture. The the basilica was consecrated in 1872 and the statue was first crowned in 1876.

The bronze statue of the Immaculate Conception given by the Sodality of Our Lady in Lyon, France became known as Our Lady of Africa. The statue is dark in color with European accents. Over the years, pilgrims have traveled to the basilica to see the image. Many have been cured of their ailments. Since it is on the Bay of Algiers, many sailors and fisherman have also asked for her protection. Votive candles blanket the walls of the basilica, testimony that many cures and miracles have taken place.

Our Lady of Africa’s feast is celebrated on April 30 with a crowning of the statue.

Our Lady of Africa…Pray for Us 

Sources:

“Our Lady of Africa.” Roman Catholic Saints. 

“Mondays with Mary” – National Marian Shrines from Around the World

Over the past months I have been racking my brain to come up with good “Mondays with Mary” articles for you all to read. And although I have lots of Marian books to choose from now in my personal library at home, finding the time to write has been difficult with marriage preparation and wedding planning with my fiancée. This is obviously the more important thing to do right now, but I still want to provide quality articles for you on Marian topics.

As I was flipping through the pages of the Dictionary of Mary, a recently acquired book and one that I have used in recent posts, I came upon the section focusing on the National Marian Shrines in different countries around the world. Although many of these would be considered international, since people from all around the world have visited them, they are still the National shrine(s) for each particular country. I have written on quite a few of these already over the years, but I think I am going to start with the first one listed and for the foreseeable future write about the different national shrines listed in this book. I will find other ones online since this book is from 1985.

Shrines are places that are sacred in nature often associated with a tomb or relic, an image or statue, or some form of religious event that took place in the location. Most shrines are developed by the people of the local Church and not by the universal Church herself. Prayer is often associated with shrines. The most common form of prayer at a shrine is called a devotion. Shrines and devotions can become part of the tradition of the people, however, the Church in her wisdom will involve herself in order to make sure that certain protocols are followed, such as the public liturgy that takes place, and that the theology of the private revelation is in union with the public revelation given to us in the Scriptures and Tradition.

Most shrines add to the beauty of the Church and they allow the faithful to pray more deeply in holy places. In the history of the Church, shrines have also been places that have interceded for the Church as a whole. They have assisted in the nurturing of the spirituality of the faithful. In the end, all of these shrines are really the work of the Holy Spirit.

The shrines we are going to focus on will be national, and in many cases, international, but shrines can also be local and regional. I hope that over the foreseeable future you will come to learn more about these important places in the life of the Church and their place in Marian theology.  As I write about them individually, I will list them below. Here are the first three that I will focus on –

Algeria: Our Lady of Africa

Argentina: Our Lady of Lujan

Austria: Our Lady of Mariazell

Our Lady, Mother of God…Pray for Us