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The Largest Churches in the World
Posted In: Religion Articles  5/17/12
By: Yona Williams

One of the most popular places to worship is the church and around the world, there are plenty of structures that have been erected over the years. With some dating back thousands of years, others have a claim to fame of being the largest or the tallest. In this article, you will learn about two churches that are quite large and tall.

Largest Church – Our Lady of Peace Basilica

When it comes to the largest church in the world, pay a visit to Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire (the Ivory Coast), which is home to Our Lady of Peace Basilica. Found in the West African bush, the church measures 30,000 square m tall. The percentage of Christians in the Ivory Coast is between 20 and 30%. The remainder of the population belonged to indigenous animist religions and Islam. The basilica was established by the former president of the Ivory Coast (Felix Houphouët-Boigny), who was a Catholic and desired to erect the building as a monument to himself. In 1983, he selected his birthplace of Yamoussoukro as the new capital of his country.

The president had a plan for the city with a vision to make the structure the "greatest church in the world." He commissioned a stained glass window of his image to go beside a gallery of stained glass of Jesus and the apostles. Between 1985 and 1989, they worked on the basilica. It cost $300 million dollars to complete with the intention to model it after the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome, which was the largest church in the world at the time. On August 10, 1985, they laid down the first cornerstone and it was then consecrated on September 10, 1990 by Pope John Paul II. Taking after the model in Rome, the basilica is not a cathedral. It is also not the main place of worship for the city – the nearby Cathedral of Saint Augustine is where you'll find the seat of the bishop of the Diocese of Yamoussoukro.

Across the globe, the basilica earned a reputation. It attracted a lot of controversial attention. The building was built with expensive Italian marble in the middle of an African city plagued with poverty. Only a few homes in the area had running water or adequate sanitation. The cost to build the basilica actually doubled the national debt of the Ivory Coast. Although the building was looked down upon by others because of the sad state of the city, the Catholics of the country were quite proud of their monument.

Highlights of the basilica include marble that has been imported from Italy, as well as contemporary stained glass from France that decorates 7,000 square meters of the building.

Other large churches found around the world include:

•    By area, St. Peter's Basilica located in Vatican City, is one of the largest churches at 20,139 with an interior measurement of 15,160. The Roman Catholic church was completed during the 1600s.

•    In Seville, Spain, the Seville Cathedral measures 11,520 m² in area. It was completed in 1520 and is a Roman Catholic church.

•    In Milan, Italy, the Milan Cathedral measures 10,186 m² in area. Completed in 1965, the Roman Catholic church was first constructed in 1386.


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