DO YOU KNOW ...
The 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.
|Holy Family Cathedral Parish, Kuwait City|
Scripture commands that only the best is good enough for God.
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'.
View of the West Side from the Gulf Coast.
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.
The Sanctuary with the Main Altar
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.
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
Stained Glass Windows
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
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 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 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
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
THE CHOIR LOFT:
View of the Choir Loft from the Sanctuary
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.
CHURCH ON THE MOVE:
Entrance to the Bishop's Villa
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.
THE CATHEDRAL COMPLEX:
Bishop's Villa / Parish Hall
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
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.
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
THE CATHEDRAL RESOURCE CENTRE:
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.
A WORD OF PRAISE:
Maundy Thursday, 2000
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
"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."