Saturday, 28 January 2017


The hunger for knowledge led me to visit the Cathedral of St. Peter at Ake, Abeokuta, in Ogun State. The first church in Ake, the first church in Egbaland, the first church in Western Nigeria, the first church in Nigeria. The foundation of the church was laid by Reverend Andrew Desalu Wihelm around 1846, and completed during the time of Henry Townsend. The first Mass was celebrated in the church on June 29, 1880, by the Fathers of the Society of the Mission. The church was built in 1898. It was rallying ground for most of the European missionaries to what became known as Nigeria.
The history of the church cannot be written without linking it to Sir, Andrew Desalu Wilhelm, a freed slave of Egba origin, a catechist and an evangelist of note. Who in 1842 had accompanied John MacCormack and Henry Townsend to Abeokuta en route to Badagry.

Dr Raphael James standing in front of the 1st church in Nigeria

They were received then by Chief Sodeke of Egbaland and Wilhelm was the interpreter to Townsend during their tour. Townsend returned to England for ordination and Wilhelm was left behind, serving as a catechist until 1846, when Townsend returned to Abeokuta with an impressive group of pioneers like Rev. (later Bishop) and Mrs. Crowther, Rev. Golmer, Mr. Marsh (a catechist), and others. Wilhelm preached the Gospel along the dusty streets of Abeokuta for 4 years before the return of Townseed. During this period, Wilhelm became the rallying point for all returnee slaves in Abeokuta. He lived with them in their quarter 'Wasimi' ("come and rest") at Ake. It was during this period that he erected a shed for Christian worship at Ake, laying the foundation of what later became the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Ake. Wilhelm died on February 4, 1866.

Inside the church

The church is the seat of the Bishop of the Diocese of Abeokuta (Dioecesis Abeokutanus) which was created in 1997 by the bull Cum ad aeternam of the Pope John Paul II. He was elevated to cathedral status in 1997.

1 comment:

  1. Keep up the good work sire. Thanks for keeping history alive.