marian calendar     april

April 1

Our Lady of Arabia, Al Ahmadi, Kuwait

As oil began to flow out of Kuwait in 1946, foreign workers poured in to Al Ahmadi, headquarters of the Kuwait Oil Company, a joint venture of British Petrolium and Gulf Oil. The Catholics among them, many from India, soon needed a church. In 1948, Discalced Carmelite Theophano Stella was appointed first resident priest and consecrated a Quonset hut, formerly a power station, to Our Lady of Arabia as a chapel for the oil workers. The following year, he commissioned from Italy a statue of her, modeled on one in the monastery on Mount Carmel in Israel. Pope Pius XII blessed the image on its way to Ahmadi, where it was ceremonially installed in 1950. In 1952, the Kuwait Oil Company agreed to build a new Catholic church there. Fr. Stella and a group from Kuwait went to Aylesford in Kent, seat of the original Carmelite foundation in England, and dug up a cornerstone from the ruins of a Dominican abbey where monks from Mt. Carmel first stayed on their arrival in 1242. The Pope blessed this too, on its way to Kuwait. In 1955, construction began, and Msgr. Stella was ordained the first Bishop of Kuwait. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1956, Bishop Stella blessed the new Church of Our Lady of Arabia in Al Ahmadi. In 1960 Cardinal Valerian Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, crowned the statue. It was badly damaged during the Iraqi invasion of 1990, but parishioners soon restored it. 

On Jan. 5, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed Our Lady of Arabia patroness of the Catholic Church in the Arabian Peninsula. Her feast day falls on the Saturday before the second Sunday in Ordinary Time, which occurs in mid-January. (Information and picture from "Welcome to 'Our Lady of Arabia' Parish, Ahmadi," Welcome to the Vicariate of Kuwait, kuwait/ahmadi.htm.)   

Also commemorated this date:

Beata Vergine della Suasia, Civitella di Romagna, Forlě-Cesena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Apparition, 1556.
King John II Casimir vows at Lwów Cathedral to drive out Swedish invaders, naming the Mother of God Queen of Poland, 1655
Sweet-Kissing Mother of God, Smolensk, Russia (March 19 old style)

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly