The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (French: Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix) is a Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The basilica was constructed between 1985 and 1989 with different cost estimates given by various groups. Some stated that it cost US$175 million, US$300 million, or US$400 million, ranging as high as US$600 million. The designs of the dome and encircled plaza are clearly inspired by the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican City, although it is not an outright replica.
The cornerstone was laid on 10 August 1985, and it was consecrated on 10 September 1990 by Pope John Paul II, who had just formally accepted the basilica as a gift on behalf of the Catholic Church from Félix Houphouët-Boigny who declared…”For God, nothing is too good nor too big“. This he expressed concretely through this Church to worship the Lord.
Félix Houphouët-Boigny (French: [feliks ufwɛ(t) bwaɲi]; 18 October 1905 – 7 December 1993), affectionately called Papa Houphouët or Le Vieux (The Old One), was the first President of Ivory Coast (1960 to 1993), serving for more than three decades until his death.
A tribal chief, he worked as a medical aide, union leader, and planter before being elected to the French Parliament. He served in several ministerial positions within the French government before leading Côte d’Ivoire following independence in 1960. Throughout his life, he played a significant role in politics and the decolonization of Africa.
The basilica is not to be confused with a cathedral. Our Lady of Peace is located in the Diocese of Yamoussoukro; the Cathedral of Saint Augustine — less than three km away — is smaller in size than the basilica but the principal place of worship and seat of the bishop of the diocese.
Guinness World Records lists it as the largest “church” in the world, having surpassed the previous record holder, St. Peter’s Basilica, upon completion. It has an area of 30,000 square meters (320,000 sq ft) and is 158 meters (518 ft) high. However, it also includes a rectory and a villa (counted in the overall area), which are not strictly part of the church. It can accommodate 18,000 worshipers, compared to 60,000 for St. Peter’s. Less than half of Côte d’Ivoire’s population are Christian, and most services conducted at the basilica are attended by only a few hundred people.
It is of special interest to note that there is a difference between a basilica and a cathedral. A basilica is simply an important church building designated by the pope because it carries special spiritual, historical, and/or architectural significance. Basilica is the highest permanent designation for a church building, and once a church is named a basilica, it cannot lose its basilica status.
A cathedral is the home church for the bishop or archbishop of a Catholic diocese. It takes its name from the bishop’s chair, called a cathedra in Latin, which traditionally represents the seat of power and authority of the leader of the diocese.
The Basilica is built and offered to God in recognition of a special grace: PEACE. It is a symbol, an appeal for Peace for all. Jesus “the Prince of Peace ” ( Isa 9:6)” Is our Peace( Eph 2:14).
We are obliged to pray for peace, cultivate peace,contribute to peace, and adopt attitudes of peace.
Pierre Fakhoury was the architect who designed the Basilica and the construction cost is estimated to have cost between US$175-600 million.
The Basilica of OUR LADY of PEACE of Yamoussoukro is administered by the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (SAC) , better know as the Pallottines at a cost of US$1.5 million annually.
They are a Society of Apostolic Life founded in 1835 by the Roman Priest Saint Vincent Pallotti.
The Basilica of OUR LADY of PEACE of Yamoussoukro is a must place to visit to strengthen your faith and the deepening of your ecclesial consciousness.
CREDIT: REV. FR. EMMANUEL DOLPHYNE (padredolphyne.com)