The first holy mass took place on Odunlami Street, Lagos Island on March 9, 1862.
Catholics in Lagos on Saturday celebrated the 150 years anniversary of the first holy mass in Nigeria. The event, which took place at St. Leo Catholic Church, Ikeja, was attended by hundreds of Catholics. The Society of African Missions conferred honorary membership on Cardinal Okogie, the Emeritus Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese, at the occasion. In an address, Adewale Martins, the Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese, said the first mass marked the beginning of the establishment of Catholic faith in the country.
“This celebration is most topical, now that we are in the year of faith. We are faced with the challenges of a secular, humanistic and materialistic culture that seeks to put the message of Christ in the backstage. Let the courage and sacrifice of those who allowed the Spirit to permeate them so that we can enjoy the graces of God today to be our hope and strength. We should not forget the truth of the gospel we received as we, together, seek the growth of the Church and rebuild the nation for a new generation,” he said.
He thanked the missionaries who introduced the Catholic faith to Nigerians. “They made a lot of sacrifice for leaving every comfort in order to identify with our culture and languages to allow the seed of the work to take root,” he said.
Mr. Okogie, who was represented by John Aniagwu, noted that God used the missionaries to evangelise Nigeria, adding that without them there would not have been Catholic churches in the country. “In the process, early missionaries like Bishop de Marion Bresillac and his counterparts in Sierra Leone, paid with their lives as they contacted a disease within months of their arrival,” he said.
The first holy mass took place on Odunlami Street, Lagos Island on March 9, 1862 and was subsequently observed in Badagry on October 2, 1863. Holy mass was also observed in Epe, Lagos State on April 17, 1864; and in Abeokuta on May 18, 1864.