Kenyans flock to beatification of Italian nun Irene Stefani

Kenyans flock to beatification of Italian nun Irene Stefani

Catholic pilgrims are flocking to the central Kenyan town of Nyeri for the beatification of an Italian-born nun.
Sister Irene Stefani went to Kenya in 1915 and worked as a nurse at British military hospitals during WW1.
She then settled near Nyeri where she was known as “Nyaatha”, meaning “mother of mercy” in Kikuyu.
Tens of thousands of people are expected in Nyeri for three days of beatification ceremonies which take the nun a step closer to becoming a saint.
The BBC’s Anne Soy in Nyeri says there has been great activity in the town with roads painted and street lights fixed ahead of the influx of visitors.

The ceremonies begin with a Mass and vigil on Friday afternoon, our reporter says.
Pope Francis will not be attending Saturday’s beatification Mass, when the nun, who died in 1930 at the age of 39, will be declared “blessed”.
According to the Irene Stefani website, the Archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, will read out a letter from the Pope and Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, will preside over the beatification Mass – to be attended by many dignitaries including President Uhuru Kenyatta.
On Sunday, Sister Stefani’s remains, which were exhumed in 1995, will be taken from the Mathari Memorial Chapel to a new tomb at Nyeri Cathedral.

British military officers will oversee the burial as a mark of respect for her work treating soldiers in Kenya and Tanzania during World War One, our reporter says.
For a person to be beatified there must be verification that a miracle has occurred as a result of them praying to the candidate after they have died.
In 1989 almost 300 people who were taking refuge in a church during Mozambique’s civil war prayed to the nun and much-needed water was said to have appeared in the font at Nipepe church.
“It was enough for all of them to drink, to refresh themselves and even to bath a baby girl who was born in that occasion,” the Irene Stefani website says.
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