The Church and the Catholic Mission

The Church and the Catholic Mission

Caconda, town and mission, Huíla, Angola

Religious Architecture

About five kilometres from the original town the Catholic Mission of Caconda exemplifies the idea of a mission as an influential and almost self-sufficient centre, sometimes eclipsing the central administration in terms of facilities and services provided. When, in 1889, the missionaries of the Holy Spirit arrived at Caconda led by father Lecomte, they settled near the fortress in the southern section of the town. A year later, the mission was set apart from the town. In the new location (from 1890) fields, vegetable gardens and orchard were irrigated and buildings were erected: a house for the missionaries, two boarding schools (male and female), workshops, a printing press, etc. The route for of the railway led the missionaries on the plateau to change their seat to the Huambo Mission, moving part of the staff and the press. The old mission of Caconda decayed, also affected by the aftermath of the First World War and by the famine that devastated south Angola in 1915 and 1916. But it was boosted again from the late 1920s, with mills, various workshops and a ceramics business. The major symbol of recovery was the construction of the new church, inaugurated in 1932, considered the most imposing and beautiful in Angola at the time. With a central nave measuring 60 metres in length, several chapels and a tower (along the medieval, neo-Romanesque model, using solid brick), the work was designed and supervised by Rev. Crisóstomo, and was made entirely by local labour using local materials, from granite to carved wood, bricks and tiles. Electrical power supplied by a hydraulic turbine completed the new face of the mission. The church survived the war relatively untouched. It has recently benefitted from works to the main buildings. Most of the annexe and the women’s section are in an advanced state of decay.

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