Taveuni was buzzing last week as the Church of the Holy Cross is hosted the 150th anniversary celebration of Catholicism in Fiji. People from all over Fiji came to celebrate and worship together, sharing in prayer, music, dance and food.
The beautiful church sat as a backdrop to the festivities and the Crucifix that is usually inside is on display outside of the church. The Crucifix was given to Ratu Goleanavanua, Tui Cakau and Patamount Chief of Cakaudrove, Bua, Macuata and the Yatu Lau by the Rev. Laurent Favre (Father Lorosio) in 1862.
The Crucifix inspired the Tui Cakau to defeat the Tongans under Ma’afu led by his warrior Wainiqolo. The people of Cakaudrove converted to Catholocism, crediting the Crucifix and the faith that it represented to have led to their victory.
Following the victory, Ratu Golea gave the crucifix to Tui Tunuloa for safekeeping.
In 1892, the Church of the Holy Cross was built, The beautiful structure is 60 metres high and overlooks a campus and the Pacific Ocean. On September 14, 2005, after 143 years, the Tui Tunuloa, Ratu Igenasio Loaloa returned the Crucifx to the Tui Cakau, Rat Naiqama Lalabalavu, in Wairiki.
The Tui Cakau then traditionally handed it over to His Grace Archbishop Petero Mataca D.D. for safekeeping. His Grace ordered that it be kept in the Church of the Holy Cross, Wairiki for veneration by the people of Cakaudrove.
We joined the celebration on Wednesday, which was a day especially for the children. There was music, dancing and trivia. We went back on Saturday, which was the biggest day, beginning with a church service led by the Archbishop and continuing with dances throughout the day.