Llandaff Oratory in Okhahlamba Rural, KwaZulu-Natal
This little church, one of the smallest in the world and the only privately owned Roman Catholic Church, is dedicated to the memory of a brave man by his loving father.
The story of the church is that Llandaff Mathews, lost his life aged 28, in an endeavour to save the lives of other miners at Burnside Colliery near Natal, on the 19th March 1925. His body was never recovered after another rock fall.
His father, Maynard Mathew, a retired magistrate, lived at the “Lodge” where the garage now stands. He was an eccentric old man who was a Roman Catholic and wanted to place a plaque in memory of his son in the Ladysmith Roman Catholic Church. When this was denied him, he was very aggrieved and determined that he would place a plague in a church. Mr Mathew built his unique memorial with this sole purpose.
The Church, which seats just eight (the number of lives that Llandaff, so we are told, saved before the final fall), is a fully consecrated Catholic Church, with all the vestments of its big brother, the one wing of the Cardiff Cathedral in Wales. Mr Mathew became a priest and was received into the order of St Dominic on May the 7th 1926. On his death the property was sold to a Mr George Tierny, a Roman Catholic, who later sold it to Mr CN Osborne, a Protestant. Mr Osborne decided to retain it as a Roman Catholic Church.
In 1960 Mr Charles Osborne West bought it and had it declared a National Monument. In 1974, as a wedding present, he gave it to his wife the present owner Mrs Mims West-Thomas who still resides in the village.
The church has a regular service once a month and is very popular for couples that want a small wedding with a difference. It is also a place of comfort for weary motorists who wish to pause for a moment of quiet solitude in this lovely Church.
You are in a very “special Church” dedicated to a brave man and loving father, who later became a priest and gave his life to the service of the Lord. So when you read this, remember both of them in your thoughts and prayers and all those who have preserved this wonderful church.
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