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Vicariate Apostolic of Galla

Embraces the territory of the Galla or Oromo tribes in Abyssinia

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Galla, Vicariate Apostolic of, embraces the territory of the Galla or Oromo tribes in Abyssinia. In its widest extent the vicariate lies between 34° and 44° long. E. of Greenwich, and 4° and 10° N. lat. The Oromo or Galla, doubtless slightly European in descent, came originally from the region of Hcalal, lying between the junction of the two Niles and the River Baro. Eventually, about the fifteenth century, they began to invade Abyssinia, where they soon became so powerful that they shared the power with the Negus of Ethiopia. The Galla are divided into two principal branches, the Borana or Western Galla, and the Barentouma or Eastern Galla, both of them sub-divided into numerous tribes. There exist among the Galla other important tribes, also genuine negro tribes and tribes of Mussulman origin. The vicariate dates from May 4, 1846. The Capuchin, Right Rev. Guglielmo Massaia, was the first vicar Apostolic. He was born at Piova, province of Asti, Piedmont, June 9, 1809, and had been a member of the aforesaid order twenty-one years when he was consecrated Bishop of Cassia, May 24, 1846, and sent to the Galla tribes. It was then very difficult to gain access into the interior of Africa; only after five years of incessantly renewed attempts and at the cost of great hardships and many perils was he able to reach the region of Galla Assandabo, November 20, 1852. Having evangelized the districts of Goudrou, Lagamara, Limmou, Nonna, and Guera, this valiant apostle entered, October 4, 1859, the Kingdom of Kaffa, where conversions were abundant. With apostolic foresight he provided the converted tribes with priests, so that when persecution obliged him to flee, Christianity did not disappear.

In 1868 he was at Choa, where he labored with success until 1879, and enjoyed the confidence of King Menelik, who made him his confidential counsellor and paid him great respect. In the interval the missions of Kaffa and Guera were administered by his coadjutor Bishop Felicissimo Coccino, who died February 26, 1878. In 1879 Negus John of Abyssinia compelled his vassal Menelik to order Bishop Massaia to return to Europe. The venerable prelate, who had already been banished seven times, and was now more broken by labor and sufferings than by age, handed over the government of the vicariate to his coadjutor Bishop Taurin Cahagne, since February 14, 1875, titular Bishop of Adramittium. Bishop Massaia was created cardinal by Leo XIII, November 10, 1884; he died August 6, 1889. He left valuable memoirs (see below), the publication of which was rewarded by the Italian government with the nomination to a high civil order, not accepted, however, by the venerable missionary. The mission of Harar was founded by Bishop Taurin, who from 1880 to 1899 sustained a glorious combat in this hotbed of Islam and opened the way to the present quite prosperous mission. He has written a catechism and valuable works of Christian instruction in the Galla language. His name is held in veneration throughout these regions. The vicariate now includes the three great districts of Choa, Kaffa and Harar. There are 15 principal stations and an equal number of secondary ones. The Christians number more than 18,000. The mission possesses a seminary for priests and a preparatory seminary. It maintains 3 principal and 12 secondary schools, 3 dispensaries, 1 leper-hospital, 1 printing house, and important agricultural works. The vicar Apostolic has under his jurisdiction 125 European Capuchin missionaries from the province of Toulouse, France. There are also 8 native priests, 10 catechists, 35 seminarists, 17 Franciscan Sisters (Calais), and 12 Freres Gabrielistes (Bl. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort).


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