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Vicariate apostolic; lies between 23° 3' and 27° 30' S. lat., and 25° and 32° E. long. The total population is approximately estimated at 960,000, consisting of about 320,000 whites and 640,000 natives. The agricultural and pastoral resources of this portion of south Africa are great, the vast rolling plains being capable of raising almost unlimited quantities of cereals. Stock-raising can also be pursued to great advantage. The discovery of gold in the Transvaal has brought about a large influx of British immigrants, who have developed the mineral resources of the country. Since the time of the "Great Trek" (1835-38) of the emigrant Dutch farmers from Cape Colony, several wars have been waged between the Boers, natives, and British. But streams of Boer immigrants succeeded in repelling the natives, and in gradually securing their own independence. In 1850 the British were engaged in a lengthy and costly war with the Kafirs, during which the Boers took advantage of the situation to demand the recognition of their independence; this was granted to them by the Sand River Convention, 17 Jan., 1852, and Great Britain gave up the Orange River Sovereignty in 1834, which they had proclaimed in 1848 after the battle of Boomplaats. In 1876 the Boers were defeated by the Kafirs, and Great Britain, afraid of a general rising of the natives throughout south Africa, deemed it expedient to annex the country, which was done, 12 April, 1877. A new war, however, broke out between British and Boers, in which the former were defeated, 27 Feb., 1881, and the Boers recovered their independence, which they enjoyed until the outbreak of the war in Oct., 1899, which resulted in their defeat and the final annexation of the country to the British Empire.

The Transvaal formed a portion of the Vicariate of Natal until 1886. From time to time the few Catholics residing in this part of South Africa were visited by a priest from Natal, till 1877, when the first mission was founded in Pretoria by the Right Rev., Dr. Jolivet, O. Mi. I. The first church in the Transvaal was not, however, completed until the first Sunday of October, 1887, when it was dedicated by Bishop Jolivet. At that time the number of Catholics at Pretoria was about 100. In the other localities of the Transvaal the Catholic population was insignificant. Johannesburg, which has at the present day a population of about 130,000, including about 80,000 Europeans and 50,000 natives and Asiatics, was then hardly in existence. The Catholic population is about 9500, Europeans, natives, and Syrians included.

The Transvaal was detached from Natal in 1886 by Leo XIII. It remained an independent prefecture Apostolic till 29 Jan., 1902. The first prefect Apostolic was the Very Rev. Father Moniginoux, O. M. I., who was succeeded by Very Rev. Father Schock, O. M. I., who died on his way to the chapter of his order held in Paris in 1898. Until Jan., 1902, father Jean de Laey, O. M. I., acted as prefect Apostolic. Then the Right Rev. Dr. Matthew Gaughran, O. M. I., was elected Vicar Apostolic of Kimberley, and administrator of the Transvaal prefecture. On 20 Nov., 1904, the prefecture Apostolic of the Transvaal became a vicariate, and the Right Rev. Dr. William Miller, O. M. I., was consecrated Bishop of Eumenia, and Vicar Apostolic of the Transvaal. He resides at Johannesburg. (See KAFIRS.)

On 13 Jan., 1911, the northern portion of the Vicariate of the Transvaal, including the two districts of Zoutpansberg and Waterberg, lying between 24° and 23° S. lat., and between 28° and 32° E. long. was erected into a prefecture Apostolic, under the title of Prefecture Apostolic of the Northern Transvaal, and entrusted to the care of the Benedictines, with the Very Rev. Father Lanslots, O. S. B., as prefect Apostolic. The missionaries number at the present 6 fathers and 3 lay brothers, all of whom are natives of Belgium. Through the erection of the new prefecture Apostolic, the boundaries of the Vicariate of the Transvaal have been altered. They are at present delimited by 25° and 32° E. long., and 27° S. lat. (north of the Orange River Colony) and 28° S. lat. (west of the same Colony).

There are at present (1911) in the Vicariate of the Transvaal: 27 priests (13 of whom are Oblates, 12 secular, 2 military chaplains); and 1 Oblate lay brother and 20 Marist Brothers, who conduct a very prosperous school at Johannesburg; also other schools, a sanatorium, a refuge, a hospital, and a home for children and aged, are under the management of various religious congregations, viz., the Sisters of the Holy Family; Sisters of Nazareth House; Dominican Sisters; Sisters of the Good Shepherd; Sisters of Mercy; Ursuline Sisters; and Sisters of Loreto; making a total number of 147 Sisters for the whole vicariate.


Missiones catholicae (Rome, 1907), 444-45; The Catholic directory of British South Africa (Cape Town, 1910).

About this page

APA citation. Langouet, A. (1912). Transvaal. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Langouet, Armand. "Transvaal." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Thomas M. Barrett. Dedicated to the Christian Community of the Transvaal.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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