Algeria was a Christian and Marian Country as early as the second century.
Numidia was an ancient Berber Kingdom that lasted from 202 B.C. until 46 B.C. in modern day Algeria (North Africa). The country of Algeria was colonized long before the Christian era by the Phoenicians, who settled and set up their commerce along its coasts, while the Berbers stayed in the interior.
From the second century B.C., the ancient Numidian Kingdom fell under the domination of the Roman Empire. This colonization lasted nine centuries, until the invasion of North Africa by the Arabs in the seventh century. The Arabs began to spread Islam at the same time. The Arab-Islamic conquest was even more severe given the fact that the country of Algeria had seen its first evangelizers as early as the 2nd century A.D. The region was deeply romanized and already had a flourishing Christian community.
The conversion of Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome, in the third century, increased the influence of the Church in North Africa, in these lands that had been Latinized for centuries and where civilization was advanced.
On the eastern coast of Algeria today, Carthage had a special attraction, as the city of Saint Augustine who was a Christian Berber like most of his countrymen at the time. Augustine became bishop of Hippo, but is especially famous because of his numerous theological writings, including City of God and his Confessions. Saint Augustine is one of the most universally well-known Fathers and Doctors of the Church.
Our Lady of Africa, pray for us and for the Muslims
At the time of the Muslim invasion, the Church of North Africa (in today’s Algeria) was one of the biggest communities of the Latin Church in the world and the Algerian soil was covered with basilicas and other Christian shrines.
The Arab invasion and the spread of Islam, from the seventh century, were done by force. Within a few centuries, the Church of Africa was decimated and only managed to keep a few pockets of resistance, mainly in Berber communities. It was not until the conquest of Algeria by France, in 1830, that the Church was able to re-implant in this region of North Africa.
Algeria is an ancient Christian country and also an ancient country of Christian martyrdom. It is devoted to Our Lady of Africa (also known as Our Lady of the Atlas), and though it is very Islamized today and rocked by bloody attacks, it has never ceased to respect the Virgin Mary. The Muslims themselves recognize Mary as the Holy Mother of Jesus and they honor her in their own way.
This prayer can be found over the main altar of the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa in the hills of Algiers:
"Our Lady of Africa pray for us and for the Muslims.”
Never have these words been erased by either time or by the events that have shaken the country. They still are written, in the nave of Our Lady of Africa, over the altar of the Basilica of Algiers in Algerian Algeria and Muslims and Christians come to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary and offer her flowers ...