Rwanda: Former Prison to be Converted into a Cathedral

February 13, 2020

After several years of speculation on the future of the former prison in Kigali, Rwanda, the project to build a large cathedral has ultimately been chosen. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

“1930.” In Kigali, this is what they used to call the old Nyarugenge prison, now a huge property located in the business district of the capital of Rwanda. The Catholic Church is forming a plan to install the heart of the archdiocese there, Saint Michael’s Cathedral having become too small to accommodate the faithful and diocesan services.

Fred Mugisha heads the Kigali Urban Planning Center. As he confirmed to The New Times on January 29, 2020, the Catholic Church has received the green light from the administration to start the project of a new “state-of-the-art cathedral.”

An optimism shared by the new Archbishop of Kigali, Msgr. Antoine Kambanda, who has led the diocese for a year: “the project for a new cathedral is progressing well,” declared the prelate during the Christmas midnight mass on December 25, 2019.

The prelate can count on the weighty support of the President of the Rwandan Republic, Paul Kagame: “We will build a new and large cathedral and, when the time comes, we will build it, if possible, in a new location. It will all depend on the wishes of the Catholic Church,” said the head of state last year.

The first Catholic Mass on Rwandan soil was celebrated on January 20, 1900 by Msgr. Jean Joseph Hirth, Apostolic Vicar of Victoria-Nyanza. According to the latest statistics from 2015 provided by the Episcopal Conference, Rwanda has 10.5 million inhabitants, of which 4.8 million are baptized, being 45.8% of the total population.