Church in Cape Verde to “make its historical journey known” Globally at 500th Anniversary

Arlindo Cardinal Furtado, Bishop of Santiago Diocese, Cape Verde.

The Catholic Church in the Island nation of Cape Verde has started preparations to mark the 500 years since the arrival of the first missionaries in the Diocese of Santiago, the first seed of evangelization in the country, with hopes that the history of the Church will be better known to the world.

The history of our Church which is poorly known because it is a complex history with many ups and downs that is why during this celebration our diocese will be in a good position to make its historical journey known to the world,” Arlindo Cardinal Furtado told Vatican News in an interview, Saturday, March 14.

According to the Bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde, “Cape Verde's historical responsibility must be assumed by all in the present and future.”

“It is very important that everyone assumes his own role, so that the whole Church is missionary,” the Cape Verdean Cardinal said.

Cape Verde's historical origin is traced back to l460, when two navigators, Diogo Gomes and António de Noli, under the orders of Infante D. Henrique of Portugal, Duke of Vise also known as Prince Henry the Navigator arrived on the Islands.


Little is known about the fourteenth-century evangelization of the islands. In l480 there was already talk of the erection of the second parish dedicated to Saint Filipe, on the island of Fogo. Around l495, the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário was built, one of the oldest on the island of Santiago.

In l5l4 and l5l6, the first norms relating to the Baptism of slaves on board slave ships passing through Santiago were recorded.

“It is an event for the Church in Cape Verde not only for the Santiago diocese,” Cardinal Furtado said and added, “This anniversary seeks to highlight the great contribution made by the Church to Cape Verdean society throughout its history.”

Commenting on the state of preparations for the anniversary celebrations to begin in 2033, Cardinal Furtado said, “A Commission has already been set up to prepare for the commemoration of this important anniversary.”

According to the Prelate, “the commission that is headed by Fr. João Augusto Martins, Vicar General and President of the Pastoral Council, will work on a pre-program for the next ten years.” 

More in Africa

The Cardinal has called upon Cape Verdeans to participate and assume their historic responsibility in the present moment and in the future.

“I think it will be important to show the present and future generations what God has given us and how he accompanied us until now. So we have many reasons to give thanks and play our part courageously so that we can build in a much more joyful way, much more dedicated to our Church that has a very consistent life,” Cardinal Furtado said.

“At least the history of our Church we hope will be better known through the work of the commission we have put in place,” the Cape Verdean Cardinal said and added, “this way, in 2033 our history will be available to all the Cape Verdeans and beyond. 

He continued, “At the same time our Church will have a stronger structure not only in terms of buildings but also in terms of the formation of the laity and the involvement of the Church as a whole in all sectors so that we may have a joyful mature conscious living Church.”

“Therefore, the truly missionary Church, which is a witness of Christ in our midst and not only in the diaspora, is tireless also in the places where Cape Verdeans at least are to be found,” the Cardinal concluded.


In 1533, Pope Clement VII created the Diocese of Santiago de Cabo Verde with the parish Church of Ribeira Grande on the Island of Santiago.

From 1941 onwards, the Islands went through a missionary revival. The religious orders of the Holy Ghost Fathers, Capuchins, followed by Salesians in succession all flocked to the Island.


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.