His Royal Majesty Oba Ewuare II, CFR, King of Benin, has given an explanation for the 13th-century mass celebrations held in Oba palace.
According to Oba Ewuare II, the mass “was intended to bring liberation to Benin Kingdom the way Christ saved humanity” when he first made contact with Europeans during the reign of Oba Esigie.
In a talk titled “For a Synodal Church, Communion, Participation, Mission,” Oba Ewuare shared this information at the 3rd National Pastoral Congress of the Catholic Church in Benin City, Edo State.
Oba explained that “the Catholic church uses a different format to operate,” and that he and his ancestors had tried to convert to Christianity but were unsuccessful, all while discussing the development of the Benin Royal Court and her relationship with the early Catholic Missionaries under the once-great Benin empire, now a part of the Sovereign authority of Nigeria.
The king explained that after the death of Oba Esigie, some early Roman Missionaries pushed for Christianity to become the state religion in the Kingdom,’ converting the then-Benin Crown Prince Uhogua, the first Benin Prince to be exposed to Western Education.
However, Oba Ewuare II stated that some Benin palace Chiefs, also known as ‘the Nobles,’ Oliha among the Uzama N’ihinron, disagreed with the Missionaries’ efforts to impose a new religion on Benin because they feared it would marginalize followers of religions from Africa’s Traditional Religious Communities (ATR).
According to Oba Ewuare II, the historical affinity and origin of the ‘Holy Aruosa shrine,’ located on Akpakpava street in Benin City, now known as the ‘Holy Aruosa Cathedral,’ otherwise called ‘Holy Aruosa Church,’ may account for the arguments that were put forth by some adherents of the various faiths and literary scholars that former Catholic Pontiff, Pope John Paul (II) ought to have visited Benin
According to Oba Ewuare II, Ohen-Olokun N’ Ughoton (also known as ‘Olokun Priest’) at Ughoton in Benin was dispatched to Lisbon, Portugal, as Benin Kingdom Ambassador by Afonso De Viero, and a Portuguese ambassador and a Roman Catholic priest were dispatched in exchange to teach Oba Esigie how to write and speak the Portuguese language.
To further strengthen the diplomatic ties between Portugal and the Benin Kingdom, Oba Ewuare II, recalled that in 1981, his father, Oba Erediauwa of blessed memory, mandated five Benin Chiefs, including Chief Ojo Eguavoen, the then Osuma of Benin, and Mr. Daniel Ineh to accompany him and the then Nigerian Ambassador to the United States of America, and presented a Bronze gift of Oba Esigie sitting down and writing in Portuguese Language in
Cardinal John Onaiyekan, a church prelate, agreed with the Oba of Benin that Roman Catholic Missionaries came to Benin centuries ago, before the Protestant Reformation began, and prayed for the monarchy to remain peaceful.
In Nigeria, he is the head of the Catholic bishops’ organization (CBCN)
The Most Reverend Lucious Iwejuru Ugorji, Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Imo State, sent a letter of thanks to the Oba of Benin for his insightful lecture.
Most Reverend Augustine Obiora Akubeze, the Catholic Bishop of Benin Metropolitan Sea, urged religious leaders of various faiths to live virtuously and avoid the temptation to dominate conversation earlier in his address.