The Archdiocese of Cotonou (Latin: Archidioecesis Cotonuensis) stands as an essential spiritual and administrative center for Roman Catholics in Benin. It serves as the Metropolitan See for the Ecclesiastical province of Cotonou, contributing significantly to the Church’s history, leadership, and social impact in the region.
Apostolic Prefecture of Dahomey
The ecclesiastical jurisdiction that would eventually become the Archdiocese of Cotonou has its roots in the Apostolic Prefecture of Dahomey, established on June 26, 1883. This initial foundation was carved out from the Apostolic Vicariate of Benin Coast in Nigeria.
Apostolic Vicariate of Dahomey
On May 25, 1901, the Prefecture was promoted to the Apostolic Vicariate of Dahomey, marking a significant escalation in its ecclesiastical status and responsibilities.
Apostolic Vicariate of Ouidah
Further evolution took place on May 13, 1948, when the Vicariate was renamed the Apostolic Vicariate of Ouidah, a reflection of the shifting cultural and spiritual landscape.
Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cotonou
Finally, on September 14, 1955, the jurisdiction was promoted to its current status as the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cotonou, cementing its role as a leading center for the Catholic Church in Benin.
The seat of the archbishop is located at Cathédrale Notre Dame in Cotonou. Additionally, there is a Minor Basilica at the Basilique de l’Immaculée Conception in Cotonou, another significant spiritual center.
Leadership: Bishops and Archbishops
The Archdiocese has been led by a series of distinguished Metropolitan Archbishops, each contributing uniquely to its development:
- Archbishop Antoine Ganye: Since August 21, 2010; formerly Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dassa-Zoume, Benin.
- Archbishop Marcel Honorat Léon Agboton: March 5, 2005 – August 21, 2010.
- Archbishop Nestor Assogba: October 29, 1999 – March 5, 2005.
- Archbishop Isidore de Souza: December 27, 1990 – March 13, 1999.
- Archbishop Christophe Adimou: June 28, 1971 – December 27, 1990.
- Archbishop Bernardin Gantin: January 5, 1960 – June 28, 1971; later appointed Official of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and future Cardinal.
- Isidore de Souza: 1981-1990
- Bernardin Gantin: 1956-1960; later appointed Archbishop and future Cardinal.
Other Notable Priests
Several other priests from this diocese have also been appointed as bishops:
- Lucien Monsi-Agboka: Appointed Bishop of Abomey in 1963.
- Martin Adjou Moumouni: Appointed Bishop of N’Dali in 1999.
- Eugène Cyrille Houndékon: Appointed Bishop of Abomey in 2007.
The Archdiocese of Cotonou oversees several Suffragan Dioceses:
- Porto Novo
The Archdiocese of Cotonou thus stands as a significant institution in both the spiritual and temporal life of Benin. Through its history, leadership, and affiliated churches and dioceses, it continues to be a beacon of faith and community in the region.