Founded by the London Missionary Society in 1814. A sanctuary for Khoisan driven out of Namibia, the village was named after the one that gave refuge to Christians in Macedonia in biblical times. Abandoned in 1872 because of drought, the Roman Catholic Church reopened the mission in 1878.
The Old Cathedral, surrounded by date palms, has a curiously Arabian atmosphere. Using an encyclopaedia as their building manual, it took two missionaries seven years to complete.
Set on a sandy plain backed by high, sun-baked hills denuded of vegetation but vividly coloured by minerals in the soil, a spring reaches the surface, giving life to the figs, grapes and pomegranates grown at Pella. Around this source of life is a walled garden. Pella’s dates are sold in wooden boxes to mail-order customers all over South Africa.