Advertisement

Catholic Parishioners in Mozambique Make Wooden Crucifix from House Destroyed by Militants

Fr. Edegard Silva Junior. Credit: ACN

Parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mozambique’s Catholic Diocese of Pemba are using a Crucifix they made from a piece of wood they salvaged from one of the houses that militants burnt down in the mission of Nangololo.

Fr. Edegard Silva, a Brazilian Salesian Missionary who was forced to flee from the Catholic mission in the Muidumbe district of Cabo Delgado to the Parish when the militants attacked in 2020 told Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) United States, that the piece of wood retrieved from the demolished house represents the suffering that the victims of militant attacks have endured.

While the cross is made from wood, the figure of Jesus Christ that completes the Crucifix is fabricated from broken pieces to illustrate the situation of Mozambicans in Cabo Delgado who, the member of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) says, have been broken to pieces.

“The cross was made from the charred wood of the house of one of the Christians, and the figure of Christ is made from broken pieces, because we wanted to recall the situation of so many people, men, women and children, who have been cut to pieces,” Fr. Edegard says in the Friday, January 14 report.

He adds, “The body – the feet, the hands and the head of Christ – is in separate pieces, as an expression of the reality lived by so many people here in this war zone of Cabo Delgado.”

Advertisement

ACN, which supports the Church in areas experiencing religious persecution, describes the Crucifix at the Mozambican Catholic Parish as “a cross with a broken Christ.”

The Pontifical foundation details that the November 2020 attack on the Catholic mission of Nangololo, in the Muidumbe district of Cabo Delgado, was one of the most savage attacks to have occurred in the Diocese of Pemba since the jihadist terrorists began their reign of terror in October 2017 in the Northernmost region of Mozambique. 

“The Catholic mission there was destroyed and practically nothing of it was saved,” the Catholic foundation reports, and adds, “Many of the Christians’ houses were burned down, as was the Church.”

The residence of the Priests and that of the Sisters, and the buildings of the community radio station of Nangololo, the second oldest Catholic mission in the Diocese of Pemba, were also destroyed, ACN reports.

“In addition, during the attacks more than 50 young people were massacred inside a football stadium in nearby Muatide. These executions carried out by the terrorists are believed to have taken place between the 6th and 8th of November 2020,” the January 14 ACN report indicates.

More in Africa

Some sources told ACN that almost all of those who once lived in the Muidumbe region have since been forced to resume their lives elsewhere in the country, whether in the refugee resettlement camps or with relatives and friends in other distant villages and towns. 

Cabo Delgado has witnessed an enormous number of victims of this violence, terrorism and religious intolerance. Since the beginning of the violence there have been more than 3,000 people killed and more than 850,000 people left homeless.

Fr. Edegard, who spoke to ACN United States, finds it difficult to forget the tragedy that unfolded there during those days of November.

The Brazilian SDB member has created unique spaces for prayer including one for the Way of the Cross and reciting the ‘Missionary Rosary’.

“Both are open spaces, without any doors, where everyone is invited to come and join their voices to those of Christians all over the world. Every time they pray the Way of the Cross, the Catholics in Mieze do so with the memory of the violence and death in Cabo Delgado,” ACN leadership has reported.

Advertisement

The Crucifix at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish is the central feature of the Way of the Cross, which has been created within a small space made of woven branches and covered with straw, like all the houses in the villages of this region.

At the entrance there is a small label on which one can read that this is “the face of Jesus in Cabo Delgado.”

There is also an open area with a giant rosary traced out in the sandy soil, which is intended to remind people of “the Marian dimension of the Church and the solidarity shown by people in so many other places around the world,” Fr. Edegard told ACN United States.

“They pray a great deal in Cabo Delgado,” the leadership of the charity foundation reports, and explains, “This prayer of a people oppressed by violence at the same time expresses the vitality of the Church which, although materially poor, is very rich in vocations, and in brotherly love—for which it stands as an example to the rest of the world.”

“There is a beautiful aspect to this prayer,” the Salesian Missionary says in the January 14 report. 

(Story continues below)

He adds, “In every Mass there is always a prayer for peace in all of Mozambique and in the rest of the world as well. We don’t ask for peace only in Cabo Delgado, because the reality of war is not something that exists only here.”

“The Rosary opens us up to the whole world – that is what we mean by the missionary rosary,” the SDB member says.

He continues in reference to the Rosary, “Whenever we pray it, we ask for peace on every continent, for solidarity for all and for ourselves as well. When we bring our sufferings to our prayer, we want to pray not only for the sufferings in Cabo Delgado, but also for the sufferings of all the world, the crosses of the world.”