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Preparations to host Pope almost complete

By Lonah Kibet | November 3rd 2015
Workers were busy Monday constructing the papal altar at the University of Nairobi, where the Pope will hold a mass. [Photo: Edward Kiplimo/Standard]

Preparations to host Pope Francis are progressing well, with construction of the altar where he will preside over a public mass expected to be completed by next week on Tuesday.

Acting Lands Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i assured that altar constructions currently being carried out at University of Nairobi, St. Mary’s Msongari and Kangemi will be completed by next week.

“We are on track to host the Pope and nothing will be spared in the preparation process,” said Matiang’i.

The CS added that there has been great support by the Catholic Church and well-wishers, who have already made donations and pledges.

“This is a joint effort between the Catholic Church and the Government. So, the burden is not only on the exchequer,” he noted Monday during a site visit to places the Pope is expected to make addresses.

Workers were busy Monday, constructing the papal altar at the University of Nairobi where the Pope will hold a mass.

The Pope is expected in the country on November 25 for a three-day visit, after which he will tour Uganda and the Central African Republic.

The Pontiff will hold meetings with religious leaders including Christians, Muslims, Hindus and traditionalists, the youth as well as with President Uhuru Kenyatta, on various topics.

He will hold bilateral talks with the President on the arrival date before addressing the nation and later have an Inter-Religious Meeting and celebrate Holy Mass at the UoN.

Over one million Catholic faithful are expected to attend the mass that will be presided over by the Pope.

He will address the youth on November 27 at Kasarani Stadium before visiting Kangemi.

He will also visit the United Nations Environment Programme headquarters in Gigiri to discuss challenges and strategies of environmental stability.

Historic altar

The three altars will hold monumental value even after the Pope leaves; as a reminder of his visit.

Last week, the 100-year-old altar used during the beatification of Blessed Sister Irene ‘Nyaatha’ Stefani was identified as the ideal platform for Pope Francis to celebrate mass during his visit.

A team led by the coordinator of the papal visit, Fr Stephen Okello, inspected the altar at Mathari Pastoral Centre.

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

It was later taken to Mathari Mission Complex where it is stored. The altar’s base has various engravings on its four sides, among them the Holy Eucharist, a bird feeding its hatchlings, a dove, a fish and a lamb. It also has the Latin inscriptions ‘Redemisti Nos Domine Senguine Tuo’, which means, “You saved us Lord by your blood."

Last month, the Pope made historic visits to Cuba and the US and met with leaders of the two countries.

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