6 Aprile 2008
The Most Holy Trinity in Onitsha
On Saturday, 8 March, 2008, the solemn erection of the first minor basilica in Nigeria, the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity in Onitsha (Anambra State) was celebrated. Cardinal Anthony Okogie, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lagos, presided over the ceremony for the solemn erection as a Minor Basilica, by force of the Decree dated 28 May, 2007.
The Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity is situated in the southern part of the city and is the first Catholic cathedral to the east of the River Niger. It is built on a raised area of the 20 hectares granted to the first Catholic missionaries on 6 January, 1886, by the local chiefs.
The relics of Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi are preserved in the Basilica, in which are also the tombs of Bishop Joseph Shanahan and of the Archbishops Charles Heerey and Stephen Ezeanya. Bishop Shanahan began the construction of the present building, which was completed in 1935 by his successor, Archbishop Charles Heerey. The cathedral was consecrated on 5 December, 1960, and erected as a Minor Basilica on 28 May, 2007. The canonical title of “Basilica” is granted to some churches that meet certain requirements and grants some liturgical privileges and the possibility of becoming pilgrimage centres.
The elevation of the Onitsha Cathedral brings to 15 the number of churches in Africa that can boast of the title of Minor Basilica. These are:
1. the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa in Algiers (since 1875);
2. the Basiica of St Augustine in the diocese of Hippo (from 1914);
3. The Church of Sts Cyprian and Louis in the diocese of Carthage, which has been changed into a National Museum;
4. the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lodonga, Uganda, (from 26 May 1961);
5. the Basilica of St Therese of the Child Jesus in the Latin Rite diocese of Cairo, Egypt (from 8 February 1972);
6. the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Nairobi, Kenya (from15 February 1982);
7. the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Ouidah in the Archdiocese of Cotonou, Benin (from 9 November 1989);
8. the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace at Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast (from 30 October 1990), and the world’s biggest Christain churhc, built to the model of St Peter’s, Rome;
9. the Basilica of Notre Dame at Poponguine in the Archdiocese of Dakar, Senegal (from 23 November 1991);
10. the Cathedral of Kabagayi in Rwanda (from 22 October 1992);
11. “Our Lady of Fatima” at Heliopolis in the Chaldean Rite diocese of Cairo, Egypt (from 8 April 1993);
12. the Church of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda at Namugongo in the Archdiocese of Kampala (from 28 April 1993);
13. the Cathedral of St Peter in the Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana (from 2 June 2004);
14. the Cathdral of the Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga, Ghana (from 17 May 2006);
15. the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity in Onitsha, Nigeria (from 28 May 2007).