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Malawi: Saint Peter's Cathedral

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Saint Peter's Cathedral | Malawi | Africa

[Visited: November 2010]

The sun was shining low in the sky and the day was coming to an end when the contours of the St Peter's Cathedral appeared among the low buildings of Chipyela, the main town on Likoma Island. Suddenly, after walking past baobabs and mango trees (I got the impression that, as a tree on Likoma Island, you are either one or the other), small houses, and dirt streets, St Peter's Cathedral seemed almost out of place. A square building made of sturdy blocks of rock - it could have fitted in the rugged landscape and cold climate of Scotland, but it was basking in the late afternoon sun of Malawi under a perfectly blue sky. The cathedral was closed, and could therefore only be admired from the outside.

Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Sturdy St. Peter's Cathedral in the afternoon

The next morning, after an early rise, St Peter's Cathedral was the first goal of the day. Fortunately, the wooden doors, relatively small compared to the building, were open now. Inside: empty. Unfortunately, scaffolding was blocking a good view of the interior, so I decided to walk the aisle. The stained glass windows, that I had seen the day before from the outside, could now be really appreciated. It was still early in the morning; the sunlight was already bright enough to illuminate the fine coloured light falling through these narrow windows. There was a clear need of maintenance almost everywhere in this Anglican cathedral. In many windows, small parts were broken, tiles were missing in the wall and the floor. Hopefully, the workers that now came in, would take care of it.

Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Stained glass window in St. Peter's Cathedral

St Peter's Cathedral was constructed in the early 20th century and was consecrated in 1911. The materials used to build the cathedral were imported from various countries, both close and far away. After having sailed the Ilala, I could start to imagine now what this meant. All the marble, the windows, the bricks, the wooden pews, the clock... it had all travelled on boats to reach Likoma, it had all been loaded onto smaller boats that could reach the beach, and then transported to the site of the church. Despite the wear and tear that could be seen when looking a little closer, overall, the building still seemed very strong. Where the rest of Likoma is great to visit because of the landscape, of the atmosphere, and the views, St Peter's Cathedral is the star attraction of the island, a baffling feat of transportation and engineering in an unlikely spot.

Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): View of the interior of St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): View of the north transept of St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Narrow stained glass windows inside St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Stained glass window in St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Looking down on the nave of St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Sandstone choir of St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): St. Peter's Cathedral on the left hand side
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Memorial stone for the foundation of St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Angel depicted on a mural inside St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Decorations on the wall of St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): One of the many murals inside St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Detail of one of the many stained glass windows of St. Peter's Cathedral
Picture of Saint Peter's Cathedral (Malawi): Wooden cross with Jesus

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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