Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will consecrate a church dedicated to Mary Queen of Arabia in Bahrain on December 10.
The Catholic community of the Emirate of Bahrain has been preparing to celebrate the solemn opening of the largest Catholic Church in the Arabian peninsula, said a report on Vatican News.
The Cathedral of Mary Queen of Arabia is scheduled to be inaugurated on December 9, a day before the consecration, by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The cathedral, which can seat 2,300 people, is located in Awali, a small town in the center of Bahrain.
The construction of the church dates back to February 2013 when King Hamad donated a 9,000 square-meter piece of land to the local Catholic community.
The new church is the second cathedral built in the apostolic vicariate, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait and, formally, Saudi Arabia, after the Holy Family in the Desert Cathedral in Madinat al-Kuwait.
The cathedral compound will not only be a reference place of worship for the Catholic community in the region, but also its episcopal curia, said the Vatican News report.
It will host a reception house and a formation center to support local Christians. One of its main features is a polychrome statue of Our Lady of Arabia.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is one of a few Muslim countries in the Arabian peninsula that have a local Christian population since 1930.
Christians presently make up 10 percent of its population, including about 80,000 Catholics, mainly migrant workers from Asia, for the most part from India and the Philippines.
Although Islam is the official religion of the country and Islamic Law is applied, Christian and other religious groups enjoy freedom of worship, as opposed to neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom of Bahrain also has diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
King Hamad has endorsed the historic “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” which was signed in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, on February 4, 2019.