SUNBIZ

Let’s Go Local: Black Christ On Ra, A Must See For The Bucketlist

It can be seen as a church known locally as the Church of the Black Christ due to the depiction of a Fijian-looking Christ figure in the mural by French artist Jean Charlot above the altar.
23 May 2021 11:41
Let’s Go Local: Black Christ On Ra, A Must See For The Bucketlist
Church of St. Francis Xavier in Naserelagi Village in Ra . Photo: Suncoast Fiji

Although Viti Levu has been put on strict travel restrictions that should not stop you from planning ahead.

The place known by many as the province of the endless summer is a good excuse to get away. This especially for those who have been stuck in lockdown in the central division. Only two and a half hours drive from Suva and Nadi and so much can be done in the Suncoast.

Many are not aware of Charlot’s Black Christ Mural in Ra. 

It can be seen as a church known locally as the Church of the Black Christ due to the depiction of a Fijian-looking Christ figure in the mural by French artist Jean Charlot above the altar. 

Its official name is the Church of St Francis Xavier.

When you picture beautiful frescoes in historic cathedrals your mind probably wanders to a European city, and not Fiji. 

How to get there

Well the Church is located in Naiserelagi Village in Ra , along the King’s Road.

There is a sign for St. Francis Xavier’s Catholic Mission. 

Following the sign towards an uphill five-minute drive that leads directly to the Church that is home to the beautiful artwork.

About the church

The cathedral itself was built in the same manner as the Catholic church on Taveuni- a stairway entrance leading to high vaulted ceilings with stained glass windows and ibe (woven mats) covering the floors.

Jean Charlot’s three frescoes

The Black Christ and Worshippers mural is the center piece, measuring 10 feet by 30 feet; and to either side there are 10 by 12 panels; one of St. Joseph’s Workshop and the other of The Annunciation.

Charlot’s Black Christ Mural in Church of St. Francis Xavier in Naserelagi Village in Ra . Photo: Suncoast Fiji

Charlot’s Black Christ Mural in Church of St. Francis Xavier in Naserelagi Village in Ra . Photo: Suncoast Fiji

These pieces were painted in 1962.

The central image of the mural is the figure of a black Christ on the cross, wearing masi (tapa) cloth around his waist. 

You will be inspired by the multicultural aspects and empowering nature of the centerpiece; looking closely you will notice the Fijian, and Fijian-Indian cultural traditions seamlessly integrated into the mural.

Traditional offerings are being made on either side of the Christ figure. 

Feedback: susana.tuilau@fijisun.com.fj



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