Later that year, the Holy See reorganized the Vicariate of Kuwait, giving it the new name of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, and including the territories of Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
Ballin’s episcopal see moved from Kuwait to Bahrain, which has a significant Christian presence, estimated to be around 15% of the population.
There are an estimated 80,000 Catholics in Bahrain, many of whom are migrants from Asia, particularly the Philippines and India.
At the consecration, there will be one notable figure missing: Bishop Ballin, who died on April 12, 2020, at the age of 75, before he could see his dream of a cathedral dedicated to Our Lady of Arabia realized in Bahrain.
In a 2014 interview with CNA, the Italian bishop asked that supporters “pray for us and our spiritual life and that the Virgin Mary would send benefactors” to fund the cathedral’s construction.
The Bahrain cathedral’s website includes a prayer to Our Lady of Arabia in the run-up to the consecration:
O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Arabia and our Patroness! To you, we offer up our prayers for the needs of the Church here and throughout the world.
Help us to remain one with your Son Jesus and united amongst ourselves, so that we may be true witnesses for Christ in our daily lives and that the Lord’s blessings of peace and harmony be within our families and communities always.
Trusting in your maternal intercession, we beseech you to hear our humble prayers and grant us the graces we seek… so that we may give glory to God forever. Amen.
Our Lady of Arabia, pray for us!
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