History of Algiers, Algeria

By | December 13, 2021

The occupation of Africa Minor by the Arabs between 650 and 710 represented (see Africa) the complete ruin of the Christian institutions in that important district; and, if here and there some bishoprics and some groupings of the faithful still survived, these were but miserable relics of a prosperity that had vanished forever. Christianity in North Africa and especially in Barbary was the religion professed almost exclusively by the many slaves, who, snatched from the Algerian or Tunisian corsairs from the villages distributed along the Mediterranean coasts, moaned in the holds of the Saracen galleys or cluttered the funduq and the markets of human flesh. In order to help the miseries of these people and prevent them from giving in to the weaknesses of human nature, they ended up denying the faith and embracing Islamism, the religious orders of the Trinitarians and Mercedaries arose; and later St. Vincent of Paul sent some of his own. It was precisely to one of the Lazarists that, in 1650, the Holy See conferred, with the office of apostolic vicar of Algiers, all the faculties necessary to help those Christians spiritually. This office was held by the sons of St. Vincent until the French Revolution. Then returned to them in 1823, it helped to prepare, for the immediate future, the constitution of the Catholic hierarchy in those countries. For Algeria history, please check areacodesexplorer.com.

This happened after France, occupied Algiers, had expressed the intention of wanting to maintain that dominion at all costs, that is to say in 1838. Even if the geographical conditions and historical memories connected with that country had not been sufficient to induce Pope Gregory XVI to act, the need to meet the spiritual needs of the many Europeans who settled in North Africa at that time would have been more than enough reason to induce him to promote the creation of the see of Algiers, with which more than reviving the ancient church of Icosium, on whose ruins the Arab city of al-Giazā’ir had risen, wanted to recall the memory of Caesarea, former capital and very important city of Mauretania.

At first the church of Algiers was considered as a suffragan of Aix in Provence, then, as the number of the faithful increased, it was elevated (25 July 1867) to the dignity of a metropolis and the two recently created dioceses of Oran were assigned to it as suffragan seats. and Constantine, a name which, since the time of Constantine assigned to Cirta, the ancient capital of Numidia, was thus preserved in the modern ecclesiastical nomenclature.

The three dioceses, however, established in an eminently Arab country, have until now served almost exclusively for European immigrants.

Thus Algiers, in whose district there is a population of 2,042,702 residents, has only 292,000 Catholics. Constantina, with a population of 1,457,489, has a Catholic population of 147,740. Oran, with a population of 1,306,725, has 365,183 Catholics.

In addition to these dioceses regularly established, Algeria has several missions among the Berber tribes of Kabylia, missions which for the moment are limited almost everywhere to building work, and work to prepare, through the practice of charity, the land for future missionaries. A regularly organized mission is instead that of Ghardaïa in the Sahara. It includes the southernmost areas of the departments of Algiers and Oran, and the northernmost territories of the Algerian Sahara. The population of the entire ecclesiastical district is 300,000; while that which is more or less established in the seven stations of the mission is reduced to only about 60,000, including 5,000 Catholics (see table at the head of this page).

History of Algiers, Algeria