Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

(Prefecture Apostolic of Basutoland)

Basutoland, a mountainous district of South Africa, is bounded on the north and west by the Orange River Colony, on the easy by Natal, and on the south by Cape Colony. It has an area of 10,293 square miles. The white population is about 700 and natives number about 309,000. The chief town is Maseru. The county is administered by native chiefs under an acting British Resident Commissioner who meets the National Assembly or "Pitso" in council once a year. Whites require special permission to settle in the country. The climate is healthful, though cold in winter, while the summer is characterized by heavy rains. The country has no railway nor roads properly so called. Basutoland was annexed to Cape Colony in 1871, and became a British Crown Colony in 1884. The inhabitants, till about 1820, were Bushmen of a low type but they have been replaced by highly intelligent Kafirs. The principal articles of export are wheat, mealies, and wool, Kafir corn, mohair, and cattle.

Basutoland, first a part of the Vicariate Apostolic of Natal, and later of the Vicariate of Kimberley, was made an independent prefecture by the Holy See on 8 May, 1894. It comprises the whole of the territory known as Basutoland. The first prefect Apostolic of the new ecclesiastical territory was the Rev. Father Monginoux, O.M.I.; he was succeeded by the Rev. Father Baudry, O.M.I., and the latter by the Rev. Father Cenez, O.M.I. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate established themselves in the portion of South Africa about 1862. Roma, the first Catholic mission in Basutoland, was founded by the Right Rev. Dr. Allard, O.M.I., in 1862. The first church was built in the same year. The second mission situated about six miles from Roma was founded in 1867 and received the name of St. Michael. Since then, several new missions have been established in different parts of the territory. The prefecture possesses at present 19 churches, chapels, and stations, 5 convents, and 9 schools. The missionary work is carried on by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate assisted by the Sisters of the Holy Family. The total number of Oblate Fathers in Basutoland is at present 19; lay brothers, 6; European Sisters, 34; native Sisters, 12; total number of Catholics, about 8,900; catechumens, 700; children attending school, about 1,200.

Undoubtedly Christianity has progressed immensely during recent years in Basutoland, and it would have spread still more speedily had the resources been more abundant. Unfortunately, there, as elsewhere in South Africa, everything seems to be precarious. Agriculture is too often compromised by long droughts, and crops are sometimes destroyed by locusts, all of which bring on misery and famines. In addition to this the limited number of priests does not allow the evangelization of the country to be carried out on a very large scale. The population, however, is well settled, which greatly facilitates the work of the missionary, who can remain always in touch with his flock.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:7-16
7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they said to me, 'Let us go ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
1 It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 22nd, 2016 Image

St. Pope John Paul II
October 22: Karol J. Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his ... Read More