Despite being Catholic, the small church plays host to people of diffrent denominations for prayers and weddings, writes JAMES WANZALA
On Mai Mahiu — Naivasha Road, lies a little jewel; it could be the smallest church in Kenya — and possibly Africa. Italian Prisoners Of War (POW) built the Catholic Church, situated on the slopes of the Rift Valley, in 1942 under the strict supervision of British colonialists.
The pentagon-like shaped church interior has four small wooden pews, an altar with a pulpit and measures approximately 15feet x 8 feet. Just like its bigger counterparts, the church has three normal doors for access.
The inside walls are covered with Latin words scrawled on the upper end of the walls and reads, Venite Ad Memone (Come to me my people), Haec Est Victoria Quae Vincit Mundum Fides Mustra (This is the victory that has won the world by our faith), Benedicite Coeli Domino Benedicite (Blessed be the sky and blessed again) and finally Universa Germinatia In Terra Domino, which translates to, everything will germinate in the sky and also on the earth.
The picture behind the altar is of baby Jesus and his parents Mary and Joseph surrounded by the angels drawn in early 1943 by Navitatis NDJC. The drawing symbolises the victory achieved by the religion across the world. This is just part of many other Latin words and symbols that decorate inside and around the church.
According to Ann Nyakio, a caretaker, the three stairs at the church entrance symbolises The Holy Trinity; The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit and it also has two crosses on the roof which has a compass and it symbolises that, the church will stay as long as the world will turn around it.
“The main reason for the construction of the church was that the Italians were Catholics and the British were Anglicans so the former needed their own place of worship. The British allocated them a small piece of land where they started building the church in groups during breaks from road construction,” says Nyakio.
She further narrates how many Italians succumbed to diseases and attacks from wild animals, which included poisonous snakes that allegedly live in the area to date.
There are graves outside the church where the deceased were laid to rest and a mausoleum has also been erected in form of a cemented cross courtesy of Christine Nyagitha, a well wisher in honour of the fallen Italians.
Nyagitha also financed the construction of a new pillar at the church’s entrance gate last year, which is expected to house anyone wishing to conduct private prayers.