Photographer's Note

A huge cathedral stands on the slopes of a mountain on a remote island in the middle of Lake Malawi, only accessible from the larger towns twice a week, by the huge decrepit tub the M.V.Ilala that sails up and down the lake on a weekly basis. The cathedral is dedicated to St Peter, whose statue faces the lake, holding the keys in his hands while a big lock lies closed at his feet.

The island is called Likoma, which means beautiful, from "Silikoma" or "Sweet Land", but the site where the Cathedral is built is known as Chipyela, a name which bears no relation to beauty. The word means "place of burning", and it was here that the first missionaries witnessed witches being burnt at the stake.

The first European to have reached Likoma Island is believed to be Elton, who landed there in 1877. Like many other European explorers of his time, he spelt it wrongly - Dikoma. Elton had sailed there to meet Dr David Livingstone, but he had missed him, for Livingstone had landed on Chizumulu, the only other island worthy of the name on Lake Malawi, which lies nine miles west of Likoma Island.

The foundation stone of St Peter's Cathedral was laid by the Bishop Trower on January 27, 1903, it was dedicated by the same bishop on September 29, 1905. The bishop had expected the work of building the cathedral to have finished by September 1905. But the difficulty in transporting the material from the mainland to the island, coupled with delays in obtaining other material from overseas such as the coloured glasses for the windows delayed the work. But the Bishop had to dedicate the unfinished Cathedral, for at this time the Lady Chapel, the Chapter house and other outer buildings had not been built yet. Mills wrote in 1910:

"Now, in 1910, this great work is nearing completionů The Cathedral will not be consecrated till it is finished."

The Cathedral was finished the following year, and was consecrated by Bishop Thomas Crowther Fisher on November 14, 1911.

This is the biggest, most beautiful cathedral and the oldest in Central Africa.

atus, vhemmati has marked this note useful

Photo Information
Viewed: 6901
Points: 2
  • None
Additional Photos by James Crompton (BigCrompy) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 59 W: 35 N: 54] (270)
View More Pictures