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Prefecture Apostolic of Mayotte, Nossi-Bé, and Comoro
PREFECTURE APOSTOLIC OF MAYOTTE, NOSSI-BE, AND COMORO (MAYOTTÆ, NOSSIBEÆ, ET COMORÆ).
Mayotte is the farthest south and most important of the group of Comoro Islands: Mayotte (Maote), Anjuan (Inzuani), Mohilla (Moheli), and Great Comoro (Komoro, i.e. where there is fire, or Angazidya). These islands, with Nossi-Bé (large island) and Santa Maria (Nossi Burai, Nossi Ibrahim), form the archipelago known as "the Satellites of Madagascar". The Comoro Islands, with their craggy evergreen shores, look like the cones of submerged groves separated from the mainland by deep abysses. The summits are not all of the same altitude; the highest point of Mayotte is not over 1800 feet, where the highest peak of Anjuan is about 5000 feet, while the central cone of Great Comoro, whose volcanic activity is not yet exhausted, rises to over 7000 feet. Two monsoons, consequently two seasons, alternately affect the climate of the archipelago, which is sometimes visited by cyclones. The soil of these islands is very fertile, and produces in abundance vanilla, cloves, sugar-cane, coffee, etc. The total population is about 80,000, mostly African negroes, often erroneously called Makoas (a Mozambique tribe). There are also some Sakalavas from Madagascar, mostly former slaves freed when the islands were occupied by the French. This Comoro Archipelago was for many centuries an Arabian colony and was once very prosperous. As they navigated along the African coast, the merchants of Idumea and Yemen created a special and interesting type, the Comorinos. Commingled with these Arabian half-breeds, once the sole owners of the country, there are now Banians from Cutch and Hindus from Bombay, who carry on almost the entire commerce. There are also a few European or creole planters and officials from Reunion or Mauritius. In 1843 the French Government, called in by the sultan, took possession of Mayotte, which became, with Nossi-Bé, a post of surveillance over Madagascar. All these islands now form a French colony. In 1844, Mayotte, Nossi-Bé, and the Comoros were made an Apostolic prefecture and confided to the Fathers of the Holy Ghost. In 1898, when the same missionaries were given the ecclesiastical administration of Northern Madagascar, these smaller islands and Santa Maria were attached to the Apostolic Vicariate at Diego Suarez. Santa Maria and Nossi-Bé have resident missionaries; the other islands are regularly visited.
The population of these islands is largely Mohammedan and therefore strongly anti-Christian; for this reason little religious progress is made. In all of the islands there are hardly three or four thousand Catholics. There are no Protestants.
Missiones Catholicæ (Rome, 1907).
ALEXANDRE LE ROY