Fire Engulfs Nigerian Catholic Cathedral, Archbishop Says Damage Extent “being assessed”

Maria Assumpta Cathedral of Nigeria's Owerri Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The leadership of Nigeria’s Owerri Archdiocese is assessing the damages caused when a fire reportedly engulfed Maria Assumpta Cathedral on the night of Sunday, March 20.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Monday, March 21, the Apostolic Administrator of Owerri Archdiocese, Archbishop Anthony John Valentine Obinna, provides details about the incident.

“At about 10.40pm yesterday, Sunday 20th March 2022, with the Cathedral gates and doors already locked, fire erupted from an uncertain source within the Sacristy section of the Cathedral,” Archbishop Obinna recounts.

The Sacristy of Maria Assumpta Cathedral of Nigeria’s Owerri Archdiocese destroyed by fire on 20 March 2022. Credit: Courtesy Photo

He continues, “The first respondents were mainly street-traders, Control Post passengers and some Cathedral residents, who alerted others about the fire and struggled to quench it.”


“At about 11.20pm, the Fire Service Clew in Owerri intervened and were able to put the situation under control,” the Nigerian Archbishop says in his March 21 statement.

The Archbishop emeritus of Owerri Archdiocese further says, “The extent of the damage in the Sacristy area is being assessed.”

He goes on to express his appreciation to “all who in solidarity so quickly came to our assistance to quench the raging fire.”

The Sacristy of Maria Assumpta Cathedral of Nigeria’s Owerri Archdiocese destroyed fire on 20 March 2022. Credit: Courtesy Photo

“The rest of the Cathedral was not affected by the fire,” Archbishop Obinna who retired as Local Ordinary of Owerri Archdiocese on March 6 says.

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He implores, “We thank our Blessed Mother Mary, the Patroness of Maria Assumpta Cathedral, for her intercession.”

The construction of the Maria Assumpta Cathedral that has a seating capacity of 3,000 began in 1954.

The Catholic Cathedral whose altar is centrally located and has a dome that reaches 120 feet in height and 101 feet in diameter was dedicated in 1980. 

The interior floor is made of marble while the material of the structure is reinforced concrete.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.