Commissioned by the First President of the Ivory coast Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace located in the countries administrative capital of Yamoussoukro is the world’s largest church, and close copy of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The cornerstone was first in in 1985, and just four years later in 1989 it was completed. It’s final cost was to the tune of $175 million to $600 million (exact figures vary). The basilica stands 518 feet high at over 320,000 square feet. It can accommodate 18,000 Faithful, compared to 60,000 for Saint Peter’s.
Lebanese architect Pierre Fakhoury designed the basilica to be a close of Saint Peter’s Basilica – save for one thing: its shorter. While the dome is over twice the diameter of Saint Peter’s (300 feet versus 136 feet), its base is lower. Why? Pope Saint John Paul II said he wouldn’t consecrate the church if it wasn’t. The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace is only the world’s largest because of Fakhoury’s addition of a cross on the top of it’s dome tall enough to eke it past Saint Peter’s total height.
John Paul II also had another requirement: he would only consecrate the basilica if a hospital was built nearby. On the 10th of September in 1990, the Polish pope did so after formally accepting the basilica from Félix Houphouët-Boigny on behalf of the Church.
The hospitals construction was put on standby because of Côte d’Ivoire’s at the time politico-military crisis. However, it was finally completed in 2014 and opened in January 2015.
Today, ordinary services at the basilica are only attended by usually a few hundred people (Only 17% of the country is Catholic). Polish Pallottines maintain the basilica at a cost of $1.5 million annually.