The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (French: Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix) is a Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The basilica was constructed between 1985 and 1989 with different cost estimates given by various groups. Some stated that it cost US$175 million, US$300 million, US$400 million, even ranging as high as US$600 million. The design of the dome and encircled plaza are clearly inspired by those of the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican City, although it is not an outright replica. The cornerstone was laid on 10 August 1985, and it was consecrated on 10 September 1990 by Pope John Paul II who had just formally accepted the Basilica as a gift from Félix Houphouët-Boigny on behalf of the Vatican Church.
The basilica is not a cathedral. The nearby Cathedral of Saint Augustine is the principal place of worship and seat of the bishop of the Diocese of Yamoussoukro.
Guinness World Records lists it as the largest “church” in the world, having surpassed the previous record holder, St. Peter’s Basilica, upon completion. It has an area of 30,000 square metres (322,917 sq ft) and is 158 m (518 ft) high. However, it also includes a rectory and a villa (counted in the overall area), which are not strictly part of the church. It can accommodate 18,000 worshippers, compared to 60,000 for St. Peter’s. Less than a third of Côte d’Ivoire’s population are Christian, and most services conducted at the basilica are attended by only a few hundred people.
The Basilica is administered by Polish Pallottines at a cost of US$1.5 million annually.