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Thousands brave morning drizzle to escort Sister Irene Stefani's remains


NYERI: Even the annoying drizzle extended from a night of rain could not prevent pilgrims from all directions of Nyeri County and beyond from participating in a procession that would escort the remains of Sister Irene Stefani from Mathari Consolata Mission, where she was entombed in 1995, to her new home at Our Lady of Consolata Cathedral.

At around 7.30a.m. yesterday, a miniature casket containing the remains was taken out of Mathari Cathedral and put onto a waiting pick-up truck that had missionary representatives, police officers and lawyers.

As the pick-up truck left the church compound, a blowing wind was on a constant battle with the flame from a sole candle on the car’s hood. The sisters frantically tried to protect the flame from going off.

Eventually, although the flame went off, embers of faith within pilgrims had been ignited a day earlier during the official beatification ceremony of Sister Nyaatha.

Neither rain nor cold nor constant wind could dampen their spirits and derail them from their mission.

Families did not want to be left behind on such a historic day. One man carried his daughter piggyback, with one son clutched on the left leg and another on the right. His wife followed meekly behind.

Pilgrims hummed to familiar tunes of worship songs. Others clapped. Many ululated. And more just looked around amazed at the numbers that turned up for the procession.

“I knew people would come out for this. But I didn’t expect so many,” Frederick Muihia, 65, said. He kept vigil on Saturday night at Mathari awaiting the morning procession.

In the cacophony of the march, old friends meet and hurriedly embrace, exchange pleasantries hold hands and proceed. The destination for all in the march is clear. Those who take shortcuts are frowned upon.

“Why are they diverting? Are they tired? Tell me, what if Nyaatha got tired of walking to the sick and those in need? Would we be here today,” Sister Francisca Mogure, 53, fumes. She has come from Murang’a.

 Cold Nyeri

In the cold Nyeri weather, streams of sweat escape from her fitting headscarf. She removes her heavy navy blue sweater. The cold does not bother her. Neither does the drizzle nor the distance. Another song breaks out at the front of the procession. She joins in.

Eventually Sister Nyaatha’s remains enter Nyeri Town from the South East. The greyness has abandoned the skies. The drizzle has long been forgotten. The cold...well what cold?

The cycle begins again. The songs start again, albeit at higher decibels. Ululations. Jigs with more vigour. Smiles. Laughter. Silent prayers. Loud prayers. The marchers then look for space to sit and quietly follow a mass at St Mary’s Boys High School. This is a brief stop. After mass, she is taken to Our Lady of Consolata Cathedral.

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