Holy Arousa Cathedral; Its Origin

As a general rule, man fears what he doesn’t understand and mystify same. But an honest, open  yielding to your inquisitive God given nature, will expose to you that, that which you fear, was given to you, to serve you and assist your journey here in mortality until you join your ancestors in immortality.

Against the above, I took a journey to investigate the “dreaded” Holy Arousa Cathedral; the church, where Oba of Benin, is the Bishop/GO. Beyond my spiritual rejuvenation, this is the history, philosophy and doctrines of Holy Arousa Cathedral.

Below, is excerpt from an address presented by The Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Ulu Akpolokpolo, Eradiauwa, CFR, Oba of Benin, on the Occasion of the Installation of Ohen-Osa Nohuanren, The High Priest of Holy Aruosa, On Sunday, 27th November, 1994.  

In the reign of Oba Esigie, Portuguese traders had extended their influence to this part of West Àfrica and into hinterland of the king of Benin. Oba Esigie, whose primary objective was the advancement of commerce for the benefit of his people, welcomed them with warm hospitality.

Che with Igbinoghodua Edebiri the Ohen-Osa of Holy Arousa.

From this first visit, close friendship evolved between Oba Esigie of Benin Empire and king Dom Manuel of Portugal. Visits and gifts were exchanged between the two Monarchs culminating in Oba Esigie sending an Ambassador to the Court of the King of Portugal, and later personally visiting Portugal at the king’s invitation.
In the course of the activities of the Portuguese 
traders, they notice that the local people, from the manner they worshipped God, would be receptive to evangelism or teachings of Jesus Christ, and they decided to introduce the process of evangelization in order to take the people off their kind of worship that was regard as idolatry.

As a result of their reports back home, the king of Portugal decided that a Christian missionary group would accompany the trading mission on their next visit to Benin Kingdom.

And so they came; they were satisfied with the information given them regarding the hospitality of the king and people of Benin and also their mode of worshipping God.

The next stage in the development was that on a subsequent visit of the trading company, the Christian missionary that accompanied them had the specific duty to establish the Church, the Roman Catholic Church.
When the Christian missionary 
arrived, Oba Esigie directed that they be shown round the City to select any location of their choice.

The missionaries were led to a spot in Ogbelaka (area where the High Court now stands). For reasons that were apparently never disclosed, the missionary did not find that location suitable; it was good but not suitable, whatever they meant by that.
As they proceeded in their search, they stopped at a location in Idunmwun- 
erie, at the junction of present Aruosa Street with Igbesanmwan Street. Again they found the place good but not suitable.

They then proceeded from there until they finally got to the present site where we are now. They found this location good and suitable; they erected the Church here and introduced Christian form of worshin, and that was the first Church on the land or country that is present-day Nigeria.

We have not been able to discover the reason (or reasons) that disqualified the first two locations or what the missionaries meant by good but not suitable.
Our conjecture  is 
that they must have found the first two locations were not on any major road unlike this Akpakpava Road where the building now stands which had been one of the seven major highways that led into the Ancient City.
And the Church of God (Aruosa) has 
been here ever since. But our people did not write off the other two locations; since they believed that the visitors from overseas brought the message of God, the Supreme Being, our people decided to build a house of worship or altar of God at Ogbelaka and Idunmwun-erie where they still are to this day.

With the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, many Benin people got converted to Christianity including, it is believed, Oba Esigie himself.
Thus, the 
Christian Church became one of the many different shrines (or altars) where Benin people worshipped, and it continued in this altar here for quite some time until it became moribund. The practice died away after the Portuguese traders had been displaced by the Dutch.
This was a rather unfortunate development both for the 
Portuguese and the local people.
After the Christian work had ceased, our people and, 
in particular the Oba himself, did not let their work die there.
As far as our people were 
concerned, the Europeans were worshipping God just as we Benin people were doing, and still do, praying to Father in Heaven. However, there was the innovation, to the Benin people, in that the altar of God could be housed”.
Until then the altar of God 
was never in any building probably because of the belief that no building could contain the altar of the Almighty God! So, our people continued to use this altar before which we are all gathered.
Since there was no more Pastor, the Oba then appointed an 
Ohen (a High Priest) for the altar and since our people did not know the intricacies of the Christian procedure, we decided to be worshipping God in the way we had always done.
It is known that adherents of all known Religions in the world worship God 
Almighty, the Almighty Creator, the Great Architect of the Universe. The only difference is the intermediary through whom they reach Him; while Christians pass through Jesus the Christ, the Muslims and adherents of traditional religion, like the Benin people, pray direct to God or Allah.
So in the case of the Benin people, after the 
disappearance of the Christian practice, our people continued to use this altar to pray to and worship the Supreme Being (God) and making the sacrificial offerings when necessary.

The land mark and turning point in the development occurred in the reign of Oba Akenzua II who decided that the worship in Aruosa should be modernized to enable all those who believe in direct supplication to God to participate.
The only Entity that 
is worshipped in Aruosa is the Supreme Being known to some people as God or Allah and to us Edo people as Osanobuwa, the Creator of all things.
We also believed that 
one can pray to the Almighty God in any language and He will answer.

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