Regina Mundi Catholic Church is located in the township of Soweto in the suburb of Moroka. The church forms part of the rich history of Soweto and is the largest Catholic church in South Africa – able to seat 2 000 people, with standing room for 5 000. The church played a major role in the struggle for freedom and is one of the historic tourist attractions in South Africa.
Regina Mundi is Latin for “Queen of the World” and is in reference to the Virgin Mary. The official opening of the church, on the July 24 1962, was presided over by Johannes Baptista Montini, a cardinal of Milan.
During the apartheid era the Regina Mundi church opened its doors to anti-apartheid groups and provided shelter to anti-apartheid activists. Because of the refuge it offered Regina Mundi is often referred to as ‘the people’s church’ or ‘the people’s cathedral’.
During the 1976 student uprisings in Soweto many protesting students fled to Regina Mundi to escape the police bullets and teargas canisters. The police followed the students into the church, firing live ammunition and damaging the marble altar and crucifix. These bullet holes can still be seen today.
The church played another important role in the mid 1990s when Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu presided over the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings from 1995 to 1998 which were held in the Regina Mundi church. In 1997 President Nelson Mandela named 30 November as “Regina Mundi Day” in honour of the church and the important role it played in the freedom struggle.
Today the church continues to play a vital role in the community and welcomes visitors from across the world. A popular tourist attraction in Gauteng, the church has also hosted prominent international guests such as Michelle Obama and is often the venue for concerts and recitals. Numerous artworks have been donated to the church and are displayed inside the building while in the grounds is a lovely garden with memorial stones donated by Japanese Christians.
Sundays: 7am and 9am
Tuesday to Friday: 8am
First Friday of the month: 6pm