- Northern Cape
Pella is the perfect picture of an oasis. In a sandy plain backed by high, sun-baked hills, denuded of vegetation but vividly coloured by the minerals in the soil, a spring of water reaches the surface. Around this source of life there is a walled garden and a grove of date palms. Figs, grapes, pomegranates and vegetables flourish. The dates have a special flavour and are sold in wooden boxes to mail-order customers all over South Africa.
Next to the garden is the church which was hand-built by the first two Catholic missionaries, Father Simon who became first Bishop of Namaqualand and Father Wolf. Beautifully decorated inside, the church is a cool haven in a climate that often seems to be a blast from the infernal regions.
The area around the mission is rich in gem stones and the rocks are vividly coloured - malachite green from the presence of copper, red oxide from iron, silver from micaschists and white and rose from quartz.
What scanty vegetation manages to exist in the area is singularly aromatic and the warm air, especially at night, is perfumed with subtle odours.
In 1814 the London Missionary Society established a station for Christian Hottentots who had been driven south of the Orange River by disturbances in their home at Warmbad. The station was named Pella, after the biblical town which was a refuge for Christians in Macedonia.
In 1872 the London Missionary Society was forced to abandon Pella when drought conditions became too harsh. The Roman Catholic Church took over the station in 1878 and developed this atmospheric little oasis.
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