Prayer Intention: For all people who live alone and those who have lost hope
Live on Vatican News @ 18:00
In Algiers Lalla Myriam or Madam Africa is the name you are likely to hear the Virgin Mary the Mother of Jesus called by. The Basilica of the Our Lady of Africa is dedicated to this Virgin Mary the Mother of Jesus. Right from the beginning this basilica has been a place of prayer and pilgrimage. From the outside you will notice the basilica is built in a Byzantine style with an influence of Spanish-Moorish architecture inside. Two women, Marguerite Berger and Agarithe Cinqin are credited for their tenacity and faith in making sure that this basilica is built. The bishop at the time of construction was Bishop Pavy (1846-1866) and it is to this bishop that the two women went to convince him to built the basilica. The Architecture for the Basilica was a French man Jean Eugine Fromageau.
Our Lady of Africa, Pray for us and for the Muslims
That is the inscription that one finds on the apse and it is precisely this element that makes this basilica among the few unique that are also visited by Muslim pilgrims. Before pilgrim to Our Lady of Africa Christians and Muslims had to contend themselves with a pilgrim to a humble Our Lady of Ravine. It is said since the inception of Our Lady of Africa generations of Christians came to pray for the sick, combatants, children, sailors at sea, prisoners and missionaries.
Beyond the barriers established by the doctors of the Law among the religious denominations, their simple faith brought believers here to pray to Mary. Often they did not know that one of the verses of the Qur’an is named after Mary, the only woman mentioned by name in the book of Islam. And often they did not know another text which used the very words of the “Hail Mary,” or that of the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth on the day of visitation when “The angels said: O Mary! God has chosen you, in truth, he preferred you; he has chosen you in preference to all the women of the universe” (sour. III, v.42).
The scholars of Christianity and Islam are seeking sources for theological arguments that can establish respect and peace between the two faiths. But the simplicity of ordinary believers leads them, quite naturally together, to the house of Mary – Our Lady of Africa – to present their supplications to God or their thanksgiving. The walls of the basilica bear witness to this fervor and make visible the faith of humble people, praying to God with Mary.
This veneration which goes beyond the borders of religious communities has found a very significant blessing, through the commitment of all Algerian structures whether public or private, French or European, in the great work of restoration of the basilica. The effort, more than ever necessary, to establish peace between the two great Christian and Muslim worlds, finds in the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa, an eloquent symbol. It is located above the popular neighborhood of Bab el Oued and visible from the entry into the Bay of Algiers when approaching the city by boat. It is a gift of God for Peace, given to us under the title of “Our Lady of Africa.”