Pope Francis gives Bahrain’s King Hamad a medal that reflects ancient links

Famous 400-year-old tree and region’s biggest cathedral captured in the work

The commemorative medal featuring the 'tree of life' and Our Lady of Arabia. Photo: Holy See Press Office
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Pope Francis gave a unique medal to Bahrain's King Hamad that records the ancient connections and deep bond between the people of the country and the Catholic Church.

Designed by an Italian artist, the work has an image of the Bahrain's “tree of life”, a majestic acacia that has survived in the desert for 400 years with little water.

The roots of the tree frame an archaeological site in Bahrain that was the capital of Dilmun, a kingdom that flourished thousands of years ago.

At the centre of the coin is the statue of Our Lady of Arabia that was recently erected in a cathedral of the same name in Awali, near Bahrain’s capital Manama.

The cathedral was built on land donated by King Hamad.

Sacred Heart Church features on the right of the cathedral. It was the first Catholic church to be built in the region, in the late 1930s.

A Latin inscription commemorates the visit with the date of the Pope’s visit to Bahrain.

Pope Francis mentioned the popular tree as an “outstanding emblem of vitality” in his first speech in Bahrain on Thursday.

“The tree itself is a majestic acacia that has survived for centuries in a desert area with very little rainfall,” he said.

“It seems impossible that a tree of this age has been able to live and flourish in these conditions. According to many people, the secret is to be found in its roots, which extend for dozens of metres beneath the ground, drawing from subterranean deposits of water.”

The Pope then referred to Bahrain and its rich history of drawing people to the country because of the abundance of fresh water springs that gave it the reputation of being a paradise.

“The ancient kingdom of Dilmun was thus called ‘the land of the living,’” the Pope said.

He said the deep roots that spread over more than 4,500 years enriched the country and helped to make it a place that would attract people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Updated: November 04, 2022, 7:53 AM