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King Mutara III Rudahigwa dedicated Rwanda to Jesus Christ

King Mutara III Rudahigwa dedicated Rwanda to Jesus Christ

After visiting Icyuzi cya Nyamagana, I headed to Christ the King Catholic parish. On my way to the church, built in 1935, I saw a myriad of schools. Mater Dei, Marie Reine, Igihozo St. Peter, St. Louis de Montfort, St. Joseph, Christ Roi — the list goes on and on.

Upon arrival, I saw the statue of Christ the King. This is where King Mutara III Rudahigwa said his humble prayer dedicating Rwanda to Christ the King in 1946.

The history of Christianity in Rwanda dates back to 1900 when a delegation of missionaries visited Rudahigwa’s predecessor, King Yuhi V Musinga. Led by Monsignor Jean-Joseph Hirth, the visitors successfully secured land in present-day Gisagara district. It is on this piece of land where the first Catholic diocese in Rwanda was constructed.

Despite his welcoming gesture, King Musinga didn’t embrace Christianity. After refusing to be baptized, he reportedly cursed his own children who became Christians. He was perceived as anti-Christian by the Belgian colonialists and the church.

In 1931, King Mutara was deposed by the Belgians. His successor (Rudahigwa) became the first Rwandan king to convert into Christianity. He was baptized Charles Léon Pierre in 1943. His conversion spearheaded a wave of baptisms and wide-spread Catholicism in the protectorate.

As I left the area, I looked at the gate of St. Louis de Montfort. Totus tuus is the moto of the school named after a French saint. I had to consult Google to find out what that Latin phrase means.

The author is an adventurer on a tour of all 30 districts and 416 sectors of Rwanda. Follow his awe-inspiring journey on Twitter @GeoExposure.

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