Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro

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Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro

The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro (French: Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix de Yamoussoukro) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The basilica was constructed between 1985 and 1989 at a cost of $300 million. The design of the dome and encircled plaza are clearly inspired by those of the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican City, although it is not an outright replica. The cornerstone was laid on August 10, 1985, and it was consecrated on September 10, 1990, by Pope John Paul II.

The basilica is not a cathedral. The nearby Cathedral of Saint Augustine is the principal place of worship and seat of the bishop of the Diocese of Yamoussoukro.

Guinness World Records lists it as the largest church in the world, having surpassed the previous record holder, St. Peter's Basilica, upon completion. It has an area of 30,000 sq metres (322,917 sq ft) and is 158 m (518 ft) high. However, it also includes a rectory and a villa (counted in the overall area), which are not strictly part of the church, and it can accommodate 18,000 worshippers, compared to 60,000 for St. Peter's.

The Basilica is administered by Polish Pallottines.


While designing it after the Vatican Basilica, Lebanese architect Pierre Fakhoury constructed the dome to be slightly lower than the Basilica of Saint Peter, but ornamented with a larger cross on top. The finished height is 158 metres (518 feet). The basilica is constructed with marble imported from Italy and is furnished with 7,000 square metres of contemporary stained glass from France. Columns are plentiful throughout the basilica but are not uniform in style; the smaller columns are there for structural reasons, while the bigger ones are decoration and contain elevators, rainwater evacuation from the roof etc. There is enough space to seat 7,000 people in the nave, with standing room for an additional 11,000 people. Apart from the basilica are two identical buildings each serving as rectory and private papal villa, respectively. The villa is reserved for papal visits, of which only one has occurred: when the basilica was consecrated.

The basilica was met with some controversy globally when construction began. The lavishly built basilica sits in the middle of the African bush in an impoverished city where only a minority of homes have running water and adequate sanitation. Reports say that the cost of the basilica doubled the national debt of Côte d'Ivoire, but that is unlikely, as the national debt of the nation in 1985 was approximately 9.8 billion dollars. (See citing data from the CIA World Factbook and Library of Congress Country Studies.) The cost of the basilica was far less than that. Regardless of the cost, many of the country's Roman Catholics are proud of the church.

Artistically the basilica also met with controversy, for being a pastiche and having nothing to do with modern architecture and African culture.


The Basilica was built by Dumez, the French construction company.


Côte d'Ivoire President Félix Houphouët-Boigny chose his birthplace of Yamoussoukro to be the future site of the new capital city of his country in 1983. As part of the plan of the city, the president wanted to memorialize himself with the construction of what he called the greatest church in the world. As construction was nearly completed, the president commissioned a stained glass window of his image to be placed beside a gallery of stained glass of Jesus and the apostles. This image depicts him as one of the three Biblical Magi, kneeling as he offers a gift to Jesus.

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