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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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Our Lady of Arabia Parish: Historical Timeline

Blessings of His Holiness - Golden Jubilee
Pope's Blessings : Golden Jubilee
... Ahmadi being the centre of oil production, scores of people, mainly migrant workers, began to settle here. The Catholics worshipped in a provisional Chapel from 1948 until 1955. This Chapel was previously a Nissen hut on the Ahmadi Ridge, which had housed a power station and was later abandoned. The Chapel was blessed on 8th December 1948. On that day, devotion to “Our Lady of Arabia” started ...

The present-day Church in Ahmadi was consecrated on Easter Sunday, 1st April 1956. It was on that day, H.L. Bishop Stella blessed the new Church of Our Lady of Arabia. It is noteworthy that His Eminence Alexender Cardinal Verde signed the document which grants to the Church of Our Lady of Arabia the same indulgences as for visiting the greatest Marian Shrine of the world, the papal basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

Significant Events in the History of the Church in Ahmadi


First mass celebrated in a tent in Maqwa on Christmas day.

1946 - 1948

A Priest from Carmelite Mission in Basra visits Kuwait periodically to celebrate Mass at different venues in Kuwait, including the indoor cinema of KOC at Maqwa and Ahmadi and at the Protestant chapel of the American Mission.

1948 APR Fr. Theophano U. Stella appointed first resident priest in Kuwait.

1948 NOV

An old Power Station in Ahmadi is requisitioned and converted into a chapel. First Mass in the "new" chapel is said on the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple (Nov 21).

1948 DEC 8

The rite of the Blessing of the "Church" (i.e. Chapel) is performed by Fr. Stella on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

1949 DEC

The Statue of Our Lady of Arabia is requisitioned from Italy by Bishop Stella, and blessed by His Holiness Pope Pius XII. On arrival, the statue is taken in a procession from Shuwaikh to Ahmadi.


Permission is requested and granted by KOC to build a new Church, The cornerstone for the new church is acquired from the ruins of an old Dominican Abbey in Aylesford, Kent. The stone is blessed by Pope Pius XII before being sent to Kuwait.

1955 SEP 8

The cornerstone is laid at the site of the new church. The cornerstone can now been seen in the chapel of St. Elias and St. Therese.

1956 APR The (present-day) church of Our Lady of Arabia is consecrated.

1960 MAR 25

Cardinal Valerian Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay places a crown of gold on the statue of Our Lady of Arabia.

1990 AUG 2

The ghastly Iraqi aggression and invasion on Kuwait has a devastating effect on Kuwait. Unimaginable acts of violence are perpetrated against its peaceful citizens. Ahmadi was particularly badly affected. Msgr. Francis Micallef braved all dangerous circumstances and celebrated mass either in a house or in the church. Fr. Mizzi carried on bravely trying to protect the church from acts of of violence. Inspite of this, the statue of Our Lady of Arabia was pushed down and broken by unknown persons. It was later restored by parishioners. The church and the priest's house sustained damages as a result of bombs dropped on houses nearby.

1991 FEB 26

Kuwait is liberated from the Iraqi aggressors, and the church bells ring continuously in celebration of this event. The damage to the church is repaired with help from volunteers.

1998 DEC 8

This day marks the Golden Anniversary of the inauguration of the first Church (Chapel) of Our Lady of Arabia.

1999 Plans for an extension to the north side begin to take shape.

2001 APR 17

Inauguration and opening ceremony of the new hall (extension to the Church). H.L. Bishop Francis Micallef, Msgr. Giuseppe De Andrea – Chargé D’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Kuwait and Fr. John Chrysostom perform the ribbon cutting ceremony.

2011 JAN 16 Inaugural Solemnity of Our Lady of Arabia. HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL ANTONIO CAÑIZARES LLOVERA (Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) arrived in Kuwait to personally inaugurate the special occasion.

This picture can be seen at the Bishop's House in Kuwait City.

Picture of Our Lady




The note written at the back of the frame of the picture

The handwritten-note (right) is at the back of the picture. The text reads as follows:

This is the oldest - Our Lady of Arabia - brought from Mount Carmel. It was framed at the beginning of May 1948 to be used in the Chapel, a room in C.Q. 2B, Ahmadi for May devotions. At the blessing of the new Chapel, December 8, 1948 - it was kept there till May 1949 and was replaced by a small statue of the Legion of Mary.

Queen of Arabia, Conquer Thy Kingdom!
- Fr. T.U. Stella



The Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, himself gave a grand lead to this devotion, when on December 17, 1949, on the eve of the great Jubilee Year, in the Vatican Palace, he deigned to bless personally the new Statue of Our Lady of Arabia, and condescended to be photographed in prayer before it.

Sometime before - November 21st - His Eminence Alexender Cardinal Verde signed the document which grants to the Church of Our Lady of Arabia the same indulgences as for visiting the greatest Marian Shrine of the world, the papal basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

After being flown to Kuwait, the Statue was received on 6th January, 1950, amidst triumphal rejoicing at her Shrine, where every day it is visited by devout people. The history of this devotion already gives evidence that favours have been granted which compare with those bestowed by Our Lady at other famous shrines.

AHMADI,  25th March 1960,  First Holy Communion Photographs



The above photographs are made available on our web-site through the gracious contribution of Mrs. Mary Belinda Gosson, then, one of the First Holy Communicants. She is the little girl (with hands joined in prayer) in the First Picture - 1st row, 3rd from left .... In the Second Picture, H.E. Cardinal Gracias is seated in the centre and H.L. Bishop T. U. Stella - standing - looks on, from the left.

Mrs Gosson recalls: A number of children, including myself, received our First Holy Communion on March 25, 1960, from His Eminence Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India at the Church of Our Lady of Arabia in Ahmadi. As a memento of the occasion, the children were each given a signed picture of the Last Supper. On the same day, in the evening, the Statue of Our Lady of Arabia was crowned by the visiting Cardinal (with great festivity in the Ahmadi Church Square) ...

AHMADI,  1956 / 1960,  Baptism / First Holy Communion Photographs

April 1956 / 25th March 1960: Baptism / First Holy Communion Photographs

We thank Mr. Stephen Gomes for graciously sharing with us his photographs and memories of some of the early days in Ahmadi...

The photographs are best explained in his own words: I am an old parishioner of the Church of Our Lady of Arabia in Ahmadi. I was born on April 15, 1956, and was baptised in this church, shortly thereafter. Since the church was consecrated on April 1, 1956, mine must have been one of the first baptisms in the new church. Pictured are my mother and Fr Clavenna who is baptising me.

I received First Holy Communion (pictured above) in the same church from His Eminence Cardinal Gracias in March 1960. In the group photograph, I am in the 2nd row, partly hidden by the boy kneeling on the Cardinal's left. I have a few precious memories of that day. The names of the twin boys kneeling on either side of the Cardinal are Leo and Lyn. I remember that there was a get together after the Mass with a grand breakfast and a photo session at the Unity Club across the street. The picture (below) was taken at a function later in the evening. My parents are on the right in the second row: (Late) Peter X Gomes and Mrs R. Gomes. I recall that Cardinal Gracias was an excellent orator.

I used to be an altarboy back then and served Mass for H. L. Bishop Stella and Fr. Clavenna.

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