Ivorian Christians celebrate Christmas in giant basilica

imageWorld32 minutes ago (Dec 25, 2020 02:11AM ET)

5/5

(C) Reuters. Worshippers attend the celebration of Christmas at the Basilica Notre Dame in Yamoussoukro

2/5

By Loucoumane Coulibaly

YAMOUSSOUKRO (Reuters) – Thousands of people gathered for Christmas mass at the giant Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro late on Thursday to mark the end of a year marred by COVID-19 and a disputed election that opened deep wounds in the West African nation.

The chapel, whose towering dome is modelled after St Peter’s basilica in the Vatican, sits on the edge of Ivory Coast’s administrative capital, surrounded by flat savannah.

After nightfall on Thursday, worshippers descended on the church, observing anti-virus measures, including social distancing and hand washing before attending midnight mass.

“My message during these Christmas festivities is to remind our dear compatriots once again that we have one religion, one ethnicity, which is peace, which is a platform for the progress of this nation,” said Franck Allatin, rector of the Basilica.

The economy of Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, has been hit hard by the coronavirus as world demand for chocolate falls and trade slows.

President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term in an October election sparked deadly violence along ethnic lines that brought back memories of a 2010-11 civil war in which 3,000 people died.

During the war, the basilica became a point of refuge for those seeking respite from conflict inside its looming stained glass windows.

“I tell myself that 2021 will be a year of hope and a year of peace,” said Marius Kouassi, a teacher from Yamoussoukro who came to celebrate Christmas with his wife.

“That is why we are here.”

Ivorian Christians celebrate Christmas in giant basilica

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.