NYARUGURU – Plans are underway to build a 10,000-seater basilica at Rwanda’s pilgrimage site of Kibeho in Nyaruguru district.
Mr Francois Habitegeko, the Mayor of Nyaruguru, is quoted by Rwanda’s New Times website as saying that that they expect the new basilica to be complete by November 2021, when the holy site marks its 40 anniversary.
Habitegeko said that engineers have already presented the design to the Catholic Church and the district authorities. The construction works for the facility are estimated to cost up to $70 million.
“They presented the design and implementation plan to us. There is also a foundation called “Our Lady of Kibeho basilica” that is in charge of raising the resources to finance the project,” the Mayor is quoted as saying on Sunday, January 12.
The basilica will have a VIP section to cater for the high-profile visitors. As part of the project, the basilica will have large gardens with a capacity to accommodate up to 100,000 pilgrims.
The target is to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at the new basilica.
“Once completed, it will attract more pilgrims and tourists presenting a big opportunity for businesses and the hospitality sector in the district,” the Mayor said. Kibeho receives between 500,000 and 600,000 pilgrims every year.
The Mayor pointed out that with the continued increase in pilgrims, more accommodation facilities need to be constructed.
“There are not enough good hotels which prevents tourists from staying for long,” Habitegeko said.
But that is set to change.
Kibeho of Nyaruguru in Southern Province is an important place for Catholics as it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to some teenagers in the remote area in 1981.
Three female teenagers witnessed apparitions in the following years and Mary left a message of repentance and encouraged Rwandans to love each other.