In the mid-1880s a huge Cathedral was built in the Bushmanland desert oasis of Pella by French Missionaries who at first had absolutely no idea what they were doing. They did, however, have a copy of Encyclopedie des Arts et Metiers which contained details of how to construct such a Building and, within two incredible years, they finished it. More than 200 cartloads of sand, 400 wagon loads of stones, 200 000 bricks, 350 bags of slaked lime and hundreds of wagonloads of willow wood went into the construction of this amazing place of worship. Today, the elegant, sandy-toned Cathedral still stands as a tribute to the men of the order of St Francis de la Sales who, incidentally, is the patron saint of writers.
In the late 1990s, the authors met Sister Therese-Henriette, a true veteran of hot places. In her 50-odd years as a Catholic Nun, she had served in Upington, Nodonsees, Onseepkans, Pofadder, Matjieskloof, Port Nolloth, Vergenoeg and Pella. “There’s a lot of love in our lives here in Pella,” said Sister Therese-Henriette. “We also go out and have fun from time to time.”
Before Pella was Pella, Pella was Cammas Fonteyn. In 1814 the feared Nama raider; Jager Afrikaner, who attacked the Warmbad Mission in Great Namaqualand. The Mission Survivors fled South to Cammas Fonteyn, where the resident London Missionary Society minister renamed it Pella, after the ancient Palestine refuge for Christians crossing the Jordan River in flight.
(prior to 1910)
In 1806 the first stationof the London Missionary Society (L.M.S.) north of the Orange River wasestablished at Warmbad in South-West Africa, 72 km north-west of Pella.A quarrel between the Hottentot chief Jager Afrikaner and the convertsresulted in the mission being sacked. The inhabitants fled across theOrange River, and a new station was built at Pella, named after an oldtown east of the River Jordan to which the Christians withdrew in 70A.D. when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. When Pella was relinquishedby the L.M.S. the station was taken over by the Rhenish Mission, whoin turn abandoned it in 1869, and in 1874 it was taken over by the RomanCatholics, who obtained their 'ticket of occupation' on 9 June 1881.The farm on which the mission is situated is 48 73 5 ha in extent. Thesurrounding country is barren and hot, and the rainfall is only 50 mm.Water is found in shallow wells, and dates of fine quality are grownon a small scale. The population is about 1600, including 15 White families.