The Embassy of Nigeria to the Holy See has been a constant port of call for many of our citizens visiting Rome.
The list is almost that of who is who in Nigeria. I shall not bother you with official delegations from the Presidency of which there has been three within the past year; for the Consistory of our John Cardinal Onaiyekan (November 2012), the inauguration of Pope Francis (March 2013) and the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Chief Sonny Iwedike Odogwu and the subsequent 70th birthday celebrations of his dear wife Chief (Mrs.) Theresa Odogwu.
Other private visits by:
° H.E. Prof. (Mrs.) Viola Onwuliri
° Supervisory Minister for Foreign Affairs
° Archbishop Nicholas Okoh Chairman NCPC and Primate Anglican Communion
° John Kennedy Opara, Executive Director NCPC
° His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, Emeritus Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments
° Bishop Kukah of Sokoto Diocese
° Archbishop A. Obinna of Owerri Archdiocese
° Emmanuel Kure, Pastor of the Throne Room Ministry
° John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja
° Mrs. Onyeabo-
° Sr. Veronica Openibo of the Congregation of the Holy Child Jesus
° Amb. Sonny and Justice (Mrs.) Okobi
° Hon. Sokonte Davis, Member of the Federal Legislative House Nigeria
° Engr. Chukwuma Nwandugo, Commissioner of Works, Ebonyi State
° Dr. Thomas Asuquo John (former Managing Director NCPC)
° Prince Bisi Olatilo, Chairman BOS Communication, Lagos
° Bishop Emmnauel Chukwuma, Bishop of Enugu – Anglican Communion
° Sr. Irene Anyalebechi and Sr. Monica Adigwe, Immaculate Heart Sisters and many others.
° Several private pilgrimage groups from Nigeria have also called at our Embassy, which is a very short distance from St. Peter ‘s Basilica (at Borgo Santo Spirito, 16).
The embassy has also received many visitors from several Embassies accredited to the Holy See over the 14 months of its presence in the Holy See.
The 53rd edition of Nigeria’s National Day (Independence Anniversary) was held at Hotel Roma Cavalieri on 5th October, being a weekend. It was attended by prominent personalities and notable citizens of our Country.
Among them were:
Many citizens from all walks of life including the world of business and medical profession, living in Rome and the environs were also in attendance. There was a heavy presence of Ambassadors accredited to the Holy See including the African Group of Ambassadors (from Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Benin Republic, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast), Ambassadors of the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany and many other countries in Europe were in full attendance.
The Holy See was represented by the Chief of Protocol, Msgr. José Avelino Bettencourt, as well as other members of the Curia.
The Ambassador and Wife, Prof. (Mrs.) Theodora Okeke received all the guests as is the tradition, and the Ambassador delivered an Independence message.
The distinguished guests many of which included priests and nuns from Nigeria as well as Venerable Boardman of the Anglican Commmunion and Nigerian pastors working with him were also present.
They were entertained by a live band and various cultural groups from Nigeria.
The Chancery of the Nigeria’s Mission to the Holy See, was formally opened 10th September 2013, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru (MFR).
The then Honorable Minister was accompanied by Ambassador Eric Tonye Aworabhi, Ambassador of Nigeria to Italy and several under-
Commenting on the new Embassy, the Minister registered his satisfaction that much had been achieved within a short period of 1 year.
He assured the Embassy of the constant support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the steady interests of Mr. President, H.E. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR) in further widening the excellent relations between Nigeria and the Holy See.
The Ambassador of Nigeria to the Holy See Dr. Francis C. Okeke informed the visiting Minister of the Embassy’s work and interests in assisting the NCPC (Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission) in ensuring a hitch free pilgrimage to Rome and all of Italy.
The busy representative functions of the Ambassador as well as the constant interests on the welfare of Nigerian citizens in the Vatican including students at the various Catholic and other Christian Institutions were discussed.
The opening ceremony was attended by a large number of Nigerian priests, nuns and other Religious from various Christian denominations as well as Nigerians from all works of life living in Rome at a small reception held in the Embassy on 11th December 2013.
Important dates to remember:
1) Nigeria’s National Day (1st October)
2) Inauguration of Pope Francis (19th March 2013)
3) Blessed Iwene Tansi day (20th January)
4) Nigeria’s Centenary Anniversary Celebrations 1914-
5) Presentation of Letters of Credence from Mr. President Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR) by Ambassador Dr. Francis C. Okeke to the Holy Father Pope Bendict XVI on 5th November 2012 thereby formally beginning Nigeria’s Resident Mission to the Holy See.
6) Formal opening of Nigeria’s Mission to the Holy See by Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru MFR (10th September 2013)