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TimelineThe Vicariate of Kuwait is now the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia which includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The decree from the Holy See came into effect on May 31, 2011.





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Holy Family Cathedral Parish, Kuwait City

KINDLY SEE THE FOLLOWING SUB SECTONS:
Contact DetailsCathedral DescriptionCathedral LogoCathedral TimelineInteractive Series
Description of the Cathedral

Situated in Kuwait City, a short walk away from the shore of the Arabian Gulf, the Holy Family Cathedral rises tall and majestic, an impressive edifice of warm sandstone against the backdrop of clear blue waters. While it is the seat of the Catholic Bishop in Kuwait, it is also a living testimony of the many mighty and wondrous deeds of God for His people. This site has been a place of worship for over forty years, standing as a vibrant symbol of Catholicism in the State.



Front view of the Cathedral
Front view of the Cathedral.
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Scripture commands that only the best is good enough for God.
View of the West Side from the Gulf Coast
View of the West Side from the Gulf Coast.
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So with faith in God and his best foot forward, the first Bishop in Kuwait, Mgr. Theophano Stella commissioned an ingenious architect from Milan by the name of Emilio Tenca to design the Cathedral. The Cathedral, very modern and unique in its architecture, began to take shape in 1956 on land graciously allocated by H.H. The Amir, and the Government of Kuwait. January 27, 1957, was the day chosen for the laying of the first stone, and on March 16, 1961, the Cathedral was solemnly blessed and consecrated. Mindful of the peculiar circumstances in which the Catholics of Kuwait lived, namely, as transient residents, Bishop Stella decided to dedicate the Cathedral to 'The Holy Family in the Desert'.


THE INTERIOR:

On entering the Cathedral through the tall, polished doors of either the main or side entrances, one is overcome at once by a deep sense of peace and calm. On a first visit, the eye is naturally drawn forward along the short length of the Nave, towards the dominating presence of the broad elevated sanctuary with its high marble canopy resting on four columns and which 'shelters' the main altar.

View of the Interior from the main entrance
View of the Interior from the main entrance.
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The Sanctuary with the Main Altar
The Sanctuary with the Main Altar
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THE MAIN ALTAR:

The main altar occupies a unique and central place in the sanctuary. In keeping with tradition, the altar is built of natural stone. It is erected on steps, which for symbolical reasons are usually of an uneven number - in this case, three, thus placing it on a higher level where it can be seen simultaneously by all the faithful in the body of the church. It stands free, approachable from every side, capable of being encircled by many concelebrants. Sealed within the altar are pieces of the rock of Calvary. A silver Crucifix on a narrow pedestal is placed near the altar.


THE FRESCO:

Behind the altar and running all along the semi-circular wall, are the seats for the clergy, and in the centre, the Cathedra (seat) for the Bishop. The Cathedra is a symbol of the Bishop's teaching office and pastoral power in the Diocese, and a sign also of the unity of believers in the faith that the Bishop proclaims as shepherd of the Lord's flock. The deep-coloured, large fresco on the wall at the back is a final complement to the sanctuary. The painting represents the Holy Family during a stop in the desert. It was created by the artist Carlo Rapp of Tunis.

Fresco: Holy Family in the Desert
Fresco: Holy Family in the Desert
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Side Altar: O.L. Arabia
Side Altar: O.L. Arabia
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The Confessional Booth
The Confessional Booth
THE CHOIRS:

On the near side of the sanctuary, two pulpits are built into its enclosure, one on either side. The richly carpeted sanctuary is fenced off from the left-side and right-side choirs by low walls of marble. Two smaller altars, built against the wall are located in each choir respectively . On the left-side altar, a miniature replica of Our Lady of Arabia is enthroned, while on the right, the tabernacle at the altar shelters the Most Holy Sacrament. The altar of Our Lady of Arabia can be regarded as a sort of pilgrimage site where people of other faiths, especially from the Asian Continent, come with devotion and their offerings of candles, flowers and white fabric.


Stained Glass Windows
Stained Glass Windows
OUTSTANDING FEATURES:

Among the other outstanding features of the Cathedral, are the pretty marble-panelled walls, quality-crafted furnishings, crystal lamps and tall narrow stained glass windows. Stained glass is a fitting ornament for a Cathedral because it greatly enhances its beauty and dignity. The sparkling coloured glass joined by thin lead threads depicts scenes from the Bible: Episodes from the time of Creation to Pentecost, and the Sacred Mysteries of the Church. The design was the concept of Mgr. S. Miguel, second Bishop in Kuwait and was executed by Fr. Bengoa, OCD of Bilbao. The stained glass windows were crafted at the studios of "Vidriearas de Arte" in Bilbao between November 1974 and August 1975. Later, they were installed in the Cathedral with the help of local artists. Along with the stained glass, tiny windows pierced into the roof of the Cathedral add a surprising amount of light to the interior, thus creating the most pleasing effect during the daytime.




The Baptismal Font
The Baptismal Font

The Holy Water Font
The Holy Water Font

THE BAPTISMAL FONT:

Located in a special chapel called the Baptistery, the baptismal Font built in the shape of a cup, is made of marble and has the following inscription on it. "Qui Crediderit Et Baptizatus Fuerit Salvus Erit ... MARC 16.16+" which translates into "Whoever Believes And Is Baptised, Will Be Saved ... MARK 16:16 "

THE HOLY WATER FONTS:

Immediately behind each of the main side doors, and adding decorative detail to the wall, is the welcoming presence of the Holy Water Fonts. Carved out of solid marble, the ornamental motifs depict the angels in the story of salvation.


THE CHAPEL:

The chapel of the Infant Jesus is fondly regarded as the "Children's Chapel". This subsidiary chapel within the Cathedral and which flanks the sanctuary on the right side, is often the place where parents with little children choose to sit whilst hearing Mass. The statue of the Infant Jesus, high above the tabernacle, appears to smile sweetly at those present here. The chapel is set aside for private religious ceremonies and Masses attended by a small number of people. In addition, many people find peace and solace by coming into the chapel and using it for private prayer and contemplation.

The Infant Jesus Chapel
The Infant Jesus Chapel
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The Sacristy
The Sacristy
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THE SACRISTY:

A quiet and holy, yet friendly atmosphere pervades the sacristy of the Holy Family Cathedral. It is not uncommon to have a quiet talk with a priest or to seek the counsel and blessing of the Bishop here.

THE UPPER ROOM:
A few steps above the sacristy, this room is commonly used for private counselling sessions, choir practices and intercessory prayer meetings.


View of the Choir Loft from the Sanctuary
View of the Choir Loft from the Sanctuary

THE CHOIR LOFT:

At the rear, a stairway leads to the choir loft which is situated above the main entrance of the Cathedral. The loft offers a splendid view of the sanctuary and the interior. The church choirs perform here only on special Feast days. The acoustics give a lively presence of sound in the choir area and allow both tone and word to reach the congregation with clarity. The two small stained glass windows are in the shape of a Cross.


Entrance to the Bishop's Villa
Entrance to the Bishop's Villa
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CHURCH ON THE MOVE:

The Cathedral exists for all the Catholics in Kuwait. It is a 'living church', encompassing many activities within its active and diverse ministry. The congregation ranges from 50,000 to 60,000 multi-national followers - spread out within the three parishes. However, the Kuwait City parish being the largest and most diverse, the Cathedral has always presented a challenge in terms of space, As far as geographical representation, the Indian community is in the majority, followed by the Filipino community. A large number of Arab Christians, mostly Lebanese, worship here. Also, a number of Europeans and Americans can be counted among the faithful. Services in the Vicariate are conducted in English, Arabic, Latin, Tagalog, French, Konkani, Malayalam and Tamil.


Bishop's Villa / Parish Hall
Bishop's Villa / Parish Hall
THE CATHEDRAL COMPLEX:

The Cathedral Complex comprises of six main elements: the Cathedral itself, the Bishop's Villa, the Rectory, the new Parish Halls, the Grotto and the Resource Center. In 1996, the Most Rev. Francis Micallef, third Bishop in Kuwait, observing that the Cathedral was insufficient to accommodate the steadily growing Catholic congregation, decided that it was time for an expansion of the older building, which had earlier housed a decent-sized hall and the living quarters for the clergy.

View of the new Parish Hall
View of the new Parish Hall
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This new building (inaugurated in October 1997) is an achievement in terms of beauty and design. The sand-coloured tiles on the exterior give the building its distinctive look, while pretty stained glass windows suitably interspersed, glow in the light of the evening sun. The building (two storeys high) is well-equipped with a large basement (one hall, one meeting room, and four store rooms), a large hall on the ground floor, and four parish offices, seven classrooms on the first floor used for catechism classes and parish groups; two guest rooms and three offices; the second floor (top floor) comprises seven self-contained rooms for the clergy, one small private chapel, combined dining room, kitchen and store. This spacious building offers greater possibilities to better organize parish activities. During certain seasons of the Liturgical year like Christmas, New Year and Holy Week, the two halls are used to accommodate the faithful and the services are relayed from the main church to these halls through an audio-visual system.


THE PRECINCTS:

At the far end of the parish grounds, and in keeping with the style of the new building, is the ever-popular, semi-circular structure resting on eight pillars that serves for beauty and devotion to Our Lady. This simple shrine to the Virgin Mother of God, having replaced the earlier grotto, regularly finds throngs of people around it to pray. It is here, at this scenic spot, that the Holy Rosary is recited during the months of May and October.

A 'shrine' to Our Mother Mary
A 'shrine' to Our Mother Mary
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Cathedral Resource Centre
Cathedral Resource Centre
THE CATHEDRAL RESOURCE CENTRE:

A short walk away from the Grotto and just behind the Cathedral finds one in the neat, hushed atmosphere of the Resource Centre. The centre, being well-stocked and ably managed by Mr. Philip Nazareth, provides for most of our Catholic needs ranging from rosaries and scapulars to Holy Bibles in as many as 31 languages. Christian greeting cards, children's books and a wide selection of beautiful gift items of a religious nature, are also on sale here.


Maundy Thursday, 2000
Maundy Thursday, 2000
A WORD OF PRAISE:

Our Bishop, is deeply appreciative of the efforts of his parishioners in the practising of their Catholic Faith. The large numbers and well-attended Services, and also, the co-operation and generosity of the Catholics have always facilitated the smooth running of the Cathedral. "We seek to welcome everyone and to share with them the good news of God's love and life in Christ" says Bishop Camillo. He concludes on a meaningful note, "Our term here in Kuwait is a great occasion to give thanks to God for everything."


MARBLE PLAQUES WITH INSCRIPTION IN ENGLISH AND ARABIC ON THE WALL
OUTSIDE THE HOLY FAMILY CATHEDRAL

Plaques in Arabic and English on the wall outside the Cathedral
"In Grateful Remembrance of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah Al Salim Al Sabah and the Government
of the State of Kuwait who in 1966 very kindly allotted this land to the Catholic Church
and in Continuous Gratitude to H.H. Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah
and the Government and the People of the friendly State of Kuwait
the Holy See (Vatican) and the Catholic Community in Kuwait
express profound appreciation and thanks for this
eternal gesture of generosity."






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