Lagos - Catholics in Lagos on Saturday celebrated the 150 years anniversary of the first holy mass in Nigeria.
The event, which took place at St. Leo Catholic Church, Ikeja, was attended by hundreds of Catholics.
The Society of African Missions conferred honorary membership on
Anthony Cardinal Okogie, the Emeritus Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese,
at the occasion.
In an address, Archbishop Adewale Martins, the Archbishop of Lagos
Archdiocese, said the first mass marked the beginning of the
establishment of Catholic faith in the country.
"This celebration is most topical, now that we are in the year of
faith. We are faced with the challenges of a secular, humanistic and
materialistic culture that seeks to put the message of Christ in the
"Let the courage and sacrifice of those who allowed the Spirit to
permeate them so that we can enjoy the graces of God today to be our
hope and strength.
"We should not forget the truth of the gospel we received as we,
together, seek the growth of the Church and rebuild the nation for a new
He thanked the missionaries who introduced the Catholic faith to Nigerians.
"They made a lot of sacrifice for leaving every comfort in order to
identify with our culture and languages to allow the seed of the work to
take root,” he said.
Okogie, who was represented by Msgr.John Aniagwu, noted that God used
the missionaries to evangelise Nigeria, adding that without them there
would not have been Catholic churches in the country.
"In the process, early missionaries like Bishop de Marion Bresillac
and his counterparts in Sierra Leone, paid with their lives as they
contacted a disease within months of their arrival,” he said.
The first holy mass
took place on Odunlami Street, Lagos Island, on March 9, 1862 and was
subsequently observed in Badagry on Oct. 2, 1863.
Holy mass was also observed in Epe, Lagos State, on April 17, 1864 and in Abeokuta on May 18, 1864.