OUR LADY, MOTHER OF AFRICA (Feast)
First Reading: Acts 1:12-14; Psalm: Lk 1. R. v. 49; Gospel: Jn 2:1-11
A MOTHER IN ALL SITUATIONS
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
The prospect of this feast is dated back to the 3rd century in North Africa. This part of the continent of Africa now dominated by Islam was in the 3rd century majorly occupied by Christians. When the first Bishop, Bishop Dupuch arrived in Algiers, the local population was hostile to the French bishop who also had no money to build a Church. He went back to France and appealed for fund but instead was given the statue of our Lady of Immaculate Conception with the understanding that she would be the Protectress of the natives. It was brought to Algiers and the Basilica of our Lady of Africa or Notre Dame d’Afrique was eventually built and the statue was enshrined in it. The statue became known as our Lady of Africa.
Pilgrims came to venerate the image and the lame, the blind and the crippled were miraculously healed. Sailors also came to ask for protection for their long perilous voyages. This great miracles associated to the statue of our Lady of African made the Basilica a pilgrimage centre.
The transformative outcome of our Lady’s maternal intervention to this historic event gave this feast a broader acceptance. Also, the miraculous turnaround of the missionary work in this part of Africa further consolidates the belief in Mary’s maternal intercession as recounted in the gospel reading of today. She is a visionary Mother, proactive in character, loving and caring in deeds, and reliable in moments of despair and doubt.
Today, the entire Church in African and the world as a whole asks our Lady’s intercession and protection especially now that the Christian faith is experiencing so much decline due to persecution, secularism, scandal and atheism. We are also reminded of the blessing of the motherhood of Mary. We can always rely on her no matter how complex our present situations are. She will surely come to our rescue.
Our Lady of Africa, Pray for us.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, through the maternal intercession of your Mother, may your Church grow in faith and number. Amen.