The first evangelization
Mozambique was first explored in 1498 by the Portuguese, who built the chapel of "Nossa Senhora de Baluarte" in 1522. Archaeological excavations have uncovered many vestiges of the first missions.
In this first period, the Virgin Mary had an important place: A medal of Mary was offered to the newly baptized; Our Lady was lovingly called "Mae Maria" (Mother Mary), and her feasts were preceded by novenas, triduum, or vigils.
In the 17th century, for various reasons, the mission struggled. When Portugal suppressed religious orders in 1834, the churches of Mozambique, all of which were served by Dominicans or Jesuits, were closed. The situation continued until the 19th century.
The second evangelization, with Our Lady of Fatima
When the missionaries returned, they enthusiastically spread the message of Our Lady of Fatima. Praying the Rosary became popular. Between 1948 and 1968, Marian devotion grew significantly. The Legion of Mary and two diocesan congregations dedicated to the Immaculate were established.
In 1948 a great procession in honor of Our Lady of Fatima took place throughout the country. This event proved the love of Muslims for Mary – probably mixed with their love for Fatima, the favorite daughter of their prophet. So many fraternal and prayerful encounter happened that year that we are dedicating it a special article.
The turning point of 1975
Mozambique gained its independence on April 25, 1975.
After that year, pastoral efforts turned to liturgical and biblical inculturation, and Mary was given less attention. The Rosary fell into disuse.
A civil war erupted in 1976, and lasted until 1992, killing nearly a million people.
Pope Saint John Paul II entrusted the country to the intercession of Mary, on September 18, 1888, in Maputo, the capital.
On October 4, 1992, a peace agreement was signed under the aegis of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome, with the support of the United Nations.
The two main sites of Marian pilgrimage are:
- The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, in Namaacha (Maputo region, at the southern tip of the country), since 1945.
- The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Mecanhelas, in the diocese of Vila Cabral.
Many churches dedicated to Mary
- Notre Dame Cathedral in Maputo.
- The Church of Our Lady of Remedies, in Chocas
Attilio GALLI, Madre della Chiesa dei Cinque Continenti, Ed Segno, Udine, 1997, p. 717-724
Read more on: www.vatican.va