Bahrain to inaugurate Arabian Peninsula’s largest Catholic church – Middle East Monitor

Bahraini King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa is due to inaugurate the largest Catholic church in the Arabian Peninsula on December 9, the day before his dedication to a small congregation.

Located in Awali, a small town in central Bahrain, the Mary Queen of Arabia Cathedral will accommodate 2,300 faithful and is intended to serve as a point of reference for the Apostolic Vicariate of North Arabia (which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and, formally, Saudi Arabia).

The community is currently headed by Cardinal Luis Tagle, Apostolic Vicar of South Arabia, following the death last year of Bishop Camillo Ballin, Apostolic Vicar of North Arabia, who is believed to have been the driving force behind the project. The new church will be the second cathedral of the vicariate after the Holy Family of Kuwait in the cathedral of the desert.

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The cathedral is dedicated to the Catholic patron saint of the Arabian Peninsula, Our Lady of Arabia, officially recognized by the Vatican in 2011.

According to Vatican News, the construction of the church dates back to February 2013, when King Hamad donated 9,000 square meters of land to the local Catholic community. Christians make up ten percent of the Gulf Kingdom’s population, including around 80,000 Catholics, most of whom are migrant workers from India and the Philippines.

Following last year’s normalization with Israel, Bahrain hosted its first public Jewish prayer services in decades in September at the country’s only synagogue which was renovated after being destroyed in the Manama riots in 1947 following of the conflict in Palestine.

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