Created By: Loren Baumberger
The Notre Dame de Lourdes was built between 1953 and 1956. Despite being built fairly recently, the cathedral actually has a history dating back to the 1920s. During World War II in Casablanca, many of the French men living there went back to their home countries to participate in the war, while many of the women were left behind in the city. These women wanted a place to worship the Virgin Mary. Thus, a shrine to the Virgin Mary was built in a cave by the current day Notre Dame de Lourdes. After the cave began to be utilized for baptisms and marriages, the Notre Dame de Lourdes began construction to better accommodate these religious practices. Today, the church still conducts services and gives tours of the historic buliding. Of note are the beautiful stained glass windows, which cover about 800 square meters.
The Notre Dame de Lourdes shows the remnants of colonialism that continue to function in Casablanca. The Notre Dame de Lourdes was not built for locals, but instead for the French that were living in Casablanca at the time. Today, only about 20,000 Catholics remain in the entire country of Morocco. Despite the church's colonial past, the Notre Dame de Lourdes has become a center for multiculturalism as well. The first African priest in the church began to preach in the early 2000s. More Sub-Saharan students began to attend religious school there, and even the music has become more influenced by Sub-Saharan themes. Casablanca, then, was able to turn the Notre Dame de Lourdes into a multicultural center that reconciles with the church's colonial past. These Moroccan Christians were able to to make the Notre Dame de Lourdes their own, showing that despite the church being built for French people, Casablanca was able to make the church a multicultural Christian church with Moroccan and French influences.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Religious Identities in Casablanca