Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro

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There is a similarly-named Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu.
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The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in Côte d'Ivoire was consecrated in 1990. It is the largest Christian church in Africa. Its status as the largest church in the world is currently under debate.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, also known as Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix de Yamoussoukro, is the largest and tallest place of worship in Africa. Situated in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), the basilica was constructed between 1985 and 1989 for a cost of USD $300 million and intentionally modeled after the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. The cornerstone was laid on August 10, 1985 and was consecrated on September 10, 1990 by Pope John Paul II.

Contrary to popular belief, this particular basilica is not a cathedral church. The nearby Cathedral of Saint Augustin is the principal place of worship and seat of the bishop of the Diocese of Yamoussoukro.

The Guinness Book of Records lists it as the largest church in the world, having surpassed the previous recordholder, St. Peter's Basilica, upon completion. It has a total surface of 30,000 m².

Contents

Architecture

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The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro was built as a memorial to Côte d'Ivoire President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the principal planner of the project.

While designed after the principal church of Catholicism, architect Pierre Fakhoury constructed the dome to be slightly lower than the Basilica of Saint Peter but is ornamented with a larger cross on top. The finished height is 158 meters (518 feet). The basilica is constructed with marble imported from Italy and is furnished with 7000 square meters of contemporary stained glass from France. Columns are plentiful throughout the basilica but are not uniform in style. There is enough space to seat 7,000 people in the nave with standing room for an additional 11,000 people. Apart from the basilica are two identical buildings each serving as rectory and private papal villa, respectively. The villa is reserved for papal visits which has only occurred once.

The basilica was met with great controversy globally when construction began. The lavishly built basilica sits in the middle of the African bush in an impoverished city where only a minority of homes had running water and adequate sanitation. The country's population is also only 30% Roman Catholic. The cost of the basilica doubled the national debt of Côte d'Ivoire.

Memorial

Côte d'Ivoire President Félix Houphouët-Boigny chose his birthplace of Yamoussoukro to be the future site of the new capital city of his country in 1983. As part of the plan of the city, the president wanted to memorialize himself with the construction of what he called the greatest church in the world. The president personally financed the basilica project. As construction was nearly completed, the president commissioned a stained glass window of his image to be placed beside a gallery of stained glass of Jesus and the apostles. He sought to portray himself as a thirteenth apostle.

Hospital

Pope John Paul II insisted as a condition of his attendance of the consecration that a hospital be constructed nearby. The Pope laid the founding stone for the hospital. The stone can be seen where he laid it as a lonely symbol in the middle of a nearby field, as the hospital has yet to be built.

See also

Resources

fr:Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix de Yamoussoukro

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