Prior to 1922, the territory formed part of the Natal Vicariate and from 1922 to 1930part of the Mariannhill Vicariate under Bishop Adalberto Fleischer. On 31 May 1930 it was made a Prefecture and in April 1937 a Vicariate. The ecclesiastical territory of the Diocese of Mthatha comprises the following civil districts: Mthatha, Libode, Ngqeleni, Port St John’s, Mqanduli, Elliotdale, Cala, Engcobo, Tsolo, Qumbu, Mount Fletcher, part of Matatiele with the Kenegha river as boundary (all in Transkei); Elliot and Maclear (Cape).
Diocese of Umthatha – Coat of Arms
The Aloe – It is a common plant in the Eastern Cape and here it represents the people of Mthatha diocese and the drive for the indigenisation of the Church.The Ant – Like an ant colony, whose members work ceaselessly according to their different roles, but also as a unified entity, the Catholics of Mthatha are invited to work for the Church, the country and the world in cooperation with other Christian denominations, other religions and people of good will.The Heart – It represents humanness, care support, acceptance and compassion towards each other in the context of various forms of alienation as well as the material, spiritual and ethical poverty that characterise our world today.
The Bishop being African, the heart also represents the African value of Ubuntu.The Holy Spirit – As we work and care, we are inspired, motivated and empowered by the Holy Spirit who gives different gifts to all the faithful of Mthatha for the edification of the Church. The Spirit inspires unity among believers of Mthatha and common purpose of fidelity to God and service to the Church and the world.
This unity, however, is not a type of unity that stifles, but a dynamic one that allows diversity. This diversity manifests in the variety of gifts and charisms that are given to the faithful of Mthatha, which as St. Paul tells us, serve to build the one Church of God. (cf. 1 Cor.12).The Motto “To care and to work” – It captures the symbol of the heart and the ant. It seeks to emphasise the need for a balance between compassionate pastoral care and the need for everyone to work for God’s kingdom in cooperation and communion with each other. The quality of the care and love we have for each other determines the quality of the work we do in service for each other, for the Church and for the world.