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Pope Francis to use Sister Nyaatha altar

KENYA
By Job Weru | October 26th 2015
The altar that will be used for mass during Pope Francis visit to Kenya. (Photo: Mose Sammy/Standard)

Pope Francis will conduct a mass on an altar that was used during Blessed Sister Irene Nyaatha Stefani’s beatification.

A team comprising the co-ordinator of Papal visit, the Rev Stephen Okello, and Director of Communication at Catholic Bishops, David Omuoyo and Nyeri Archdiocese Coordinator of Liturgy Father Elias Mutahi inspected the altar ahead of its transportation to Nairobi.

The altar was consecrated for use during the beatification of Blessed Sister Nyaatha at the Dedan Kimathi grounds on May 23, this year, by Papal Delegate and Dar-es-Salaam’s Polycarp Cardinal Pengo and Kenya’s head of Catholic Church John Cardinal Njue.

The altar was then taken to Mathari Mission Complex where it is stored. Father Okello said that the altar will be used by Pope Francis during a church mass, which he will conduct at the University of Nairobi grounds in Nairobi.

“The altar is historic since it was constructed more than 100 years ago by the Consolata Missionaries soon after their arrival to Kenya. It is also notable that the same altar was used during the beatification of Blessed Sister Nyaatha,” said Fr Okello.

He noted that the inspection tour was part of the ongoing preparations ahead of the papal visit, where about one million Christians, mostly Catholics, are expected to attend.

The altar will be transported to Nairobi where some few touch-ups will be done to ensure it is in form. The altar is chocolate in colour and is made of hard wood.

The altar’s base has various engravings on its four sides, among them the Holy Eucharist, a bird feeding its hatchlings, a dove and a fish and a lamb.

It also has Latin inscriptions ‘Redemisti Nos Domine Senguine Tuo’, which means, “You saved us Lord by your blood’.

The Postulator of the Cause of Beatification of Blessed Sister Nyaatha, Father Peter Githinji, said the altar will be taken to Nairobi after the first Feast of Blessed Sister Nyaatha, which will be celebrated on Saturday at Mathari Complex grounds.

All-night vigil

“We will have an all-night vigil at Our Lady of Consolata Catholic Cathedral in Nyeri Town and in the morning there will be a youth’s procession to Mathari Grounds where the main feast will be celebrated. We will use the same altar for the event, and we feel blessed that even the organisers of the papal visit have accepted the Pope to use the same altar during his visit,” said Father Githinji.

He added that the altar will be returned to Nyeri after the papal visit.

And Father Okello and Omuoyo noted that preparations for the Papal visit are in top gear, noting that a podium where he will conduct mass at the University of Nairobi grounds is 60 per cent complete.

“We are expecting at least three buses of faithful from every parish, meaning we will have about one million people. We have set the main ground at the university for faithful from upcountry while the overflow will follow the service through live streaming at Central park and Uhuru parks,” said Okello.

He noted that Pope Francis will visit all other venues ahead of the mass.

Omuoyo said more than 500 journalists will be accredited to cover the event at UoN grounds.

“We have already received applications from media houses from all over the world and we note that more than 30 world television stations will be streaming the service live on TVs. The Pope will also be accompanied by about 70 to 80 Vatican accredited journalists who will travel with him,” said Omuoyo.

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