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7 significant moments in the history of the Anglican Diocese of Seychelles 

Victoria, Seychelles | June 1, 2023, Thursday @ 09:01 in Entertainment » SEYCHELLES BUZZ | By: Sharon Ernesta | Views: 9464
7 significant moments in the history of the Anglican Diocese of Seychelles 

(Patrick Joubert / Seychelles News Agency) 

Photo license  

The Anglican Diocese of Seychelles celebrates its golden jubilee this year. The diocese was set up on March 25 in 1973 and its first bishop was Reverend Canon George Cardell Briggs, consecrated at St. James Cathedral in Mauritius. 

This year the community's celebration is two-fold as it is also during the month of March

SNA brings you seven interesting facts and events of the diocese since its establishment.

 

Construction of St. Paul's church  

An Anglican church was built in May 1859 in the capital city of Victoria by Bishop Vincent William Ryan, the first Bishop of Mauritius. It acts as both a cathedral of the diocese and an Anglican parish church. It was demolished and rebuilt and on April 15, 2004, Archbishop French Chang Him inaugurated and re-consecrated the new cathedral that still stands today.

(Seychelles National Archives) Photo License:  All Rights Reserved

 

The Anglican church of St. Paul elevated to a cathedral

The Anglican Diocese of Victoria was established on April 3, 1973.  In April 1961, the church was given the status of a cathedral by Bishop Alan Francis Rogers in Mauritius, who also ordained the first Anglican Priest of Seychelles, Father French Chang-Him in 1963.

This year 2023, marks 163 years since its consecration. 

(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

 

St. Paul's Church safe haven during the 1862 landslide

One of the worst natural disasters in the history of the island nation is the landslide that occurred in the capital city of Victoria. After days of heavy rainfall, in October 1862 a great avalanche devastated the town and many inhabitants sought refuge in the church. Sacks of rice that were able to be salvaged from the debris were stored in the bell tower. The church became a significant sanctuary for the homeless families whose homes were destroyed in the disaster.

A nearby Catholic convent was completely destroyed and 11 orphan girls and two nuns perished.  Six bodies - a mother and her three children, a father and his daughter, who were swept away in the churchyard during the disaster -- were buried in the grounds of the cathedral.

(Seychelles National Archives) Photo License:  All Rights Reserved 

 

Baptism of an exiled African king

On May 29, 1904, King Prempeh of Ashanti, who was exiled to Seychelles, was baptised in this church after he expressed his desire to belong to the same faith as King George V of the United Kingdom.

King Prempeh was exiled to Seychelles in the year 1900 by the British together with his family, several of his chiefs, and members of his entourage. The island nation at the time had a population of only 19,000.

After 24 years, the King was finally allowed to go back to Ghana and died in his native land in 1931.

(richardis.univ-paris1.f/Wikipedia) Photo License: CC0

 

 Anglican Church formally establishes a parish on Praslin

The construction of the St. Mark church in 1852, symbolised the arrival of the Anglican Church on Praslin. Located at the centre of the streets of Baie Ste Anne, one of the two districts on Praslin, the church was originally made with wood and covered with leaves from the coco de mer tree.

St. Mark's church was originally built at the inspiration of Phillippe Annette, a renowned catechist and evangelist known as the apostle of Praslin. Dedicated to the first disciple of Jesus, Mark, the church was consecrated by the first bishop of the archipelago James Chapman who was then based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The church was renovated in 1906 and built with brightly red corrugated iron sheets.

(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

 

Four bishops at the head of the diocese

During the first 50 years of the Anglican diocese, four bishops led the congregation. George Briggs was the first bishop of the newly created diocese. French Chang Him, the first Seychellois Anglican priest and Archbishop was the second until he retired in 2005. He passed away on May 26, 2023.

Bishop Santosh Marray from Guyana was the third, until 2008.

Mauritian-born, but now a Seychellois citizen, James Wong, currently heads the diocese. He was elected the new Anglican Archbishop of the Indian Ocean Province in 2017, the second of the Seychelles Diocese to assume the position, after Archbishop French Chang Him.

(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

 

Book - Launching Out Into the Deep: The Anglican Church in the History of the Seychelles to 2000 AD' 

Launched in 2005, the book written by Donald Taylor, a Mauritian theologian who previously worked in the Seychelles diocese, chronicles the history of the Anglican church in Seychelles. The 877-page book charts the Church's involvement in Seychelles from the first settlers to the year 2000.

The book covers events such as slavery, the Protestant Experiment, the creation of the Diocese of Mauritius, witchcraft and herbalism, the relations between the Roman Catholic and Anglican Church, the formation of the Seychelles Diocese, the coup d'état, the one-party state, the new constitution, and multi-party politics.

(Sharon Ernesta) Photo License: CC-BY
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