How Meru birth miracle is earning Cottolengo nun sainthood

Sister Maria Carola Cecchin who will be beatified in Meru on November 5

Sister Maria Carola Cecchin who will be beatified in Meru on November 5, 2022. 

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

A Catholic nun who served among the poor in Kenya over 100 years ago is set to be beatified in Meru, in an elaborate celebration on November 5, this year.

Pope Francis allowed the church to hold the fete for Sister Maria Carola Cecchin, of the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph Cottolengo, after a miracle attributed to her was verified.

It entails the amazing revival of a boy who had been born without a heartbeat inside a Land Rover which had been stuck in a muddy road in the middle of the night.

As the nurse and a nun watched desperately for 30 minutes, they observed the child was unresponsive and decided to concentrate on saving the mother who was also in critical condition.

During this process, Sr Catherine Kathomi continued praying to Sr Maria Carola, calling upon her intercession to save the child and the mother as the rain pounded heavily.

Shortly, Sr Kathoni said she saw the child make some movement and called the nurse and from there, the child was taken care of.

Today, Hilary Msafiri Kiama is a bubbly nine-year boy who goes about his life like any ordinary boy.

The boy’s mother, Ms Joyce Kanyamu, recounted how difficult the pregnancy was, forcing her to stay in the hospital ward for close to 10 days due to false labour.

The protestant family, which attends the local Gaciongo MCK church, recounts how excited they were when a delegation from Rome visited them as probe into the miracle escalated.

“They did not expect the child to grow normally or to be able to speak given his birth in the rain. I had become weak and asked the nurse to tell my family to take good care of the child...

“He had an issue with the head where some parts were not firm but it healed after a month. I named him Msafiri since he was born on the road. He was nicknamed Kiama (miracle) because everyone who hears his story says it is indeed a miracle,” she said.

The boy’s father, Jacob Muriungi, said the family has become more prosperous since the boy’s arrival.

When the Nation visited their Gaciongo village home, Hilary was driving home the family’s cows and goats after a day-long grazing session.

The Class Five pupil at Ucweni Primary School in Tharaka North said he would like to be a police officer and serve his community.

The events of the April 14, 2013 night along Marimanti-Matiri road were reported and the process of canonisation started where the faithful were asked to pray through the nun’s intercession.

For it to be proved as a miracle, a delegation of 13 people consisting of medics and other investigators travelled to Gaciongo village on a fact-finding mission.

They checked the boy, interviewed the sister and the nurse who attended to the mother and son and they declared that it was indeed a miracle.

The postulator, Sister Antonietta Bosetti, emphasized that “the immediate, complete and lasting, scientifically unexplainable return to life after 30 minutes of the newborn Msafiri Hilary Kiama considered a ‘still birth’, born without vital signs with absence of cardiac activity, muscle tone and cyanotic colour” was indeed a miracle.

After an elaborate process, on December 13, 2021, the church gave its verdict that the miracle attributed to Sr Maria Carola had been recognised.

Fondly described as ‘mother and sister of the poor’, Sr Carola was born in 1877 in Italy, arrived in Kenya in 1905 and left in 1925 where she died in the Red Sea aboard a steamship.

During her call of duty, Sr Carola worked in Limuru, Mugoiri, Wambogo, Nyeri, Tuthu, Icagaki, Igoji and lastly in Tigania parish in Meru.

According to Sr Beatrice Kinoti, in charge of the St Joseph Cottolengo sisters’ house, Gatunga, Sr Carola showed her ultimate selflessness by allowing her colleagues to travel ahead of her.

“She was sickly and had sacrificed the chance to travel until others left before her...During her life, she used to say ‘I desire a good death, mine is to avoid sin and desire a good death’. She did extraordinary things with an ordinary life, she was a woman of prayer, and she loved the Eucharist and would encourage her colleagues to pray trusting in the divine providence,” Sr Kinoti said.

Meru Bishop Salesius Mugambi has formed various commissions to co-ordinate for the day.

There will be a nine-day Novena which will culminate on the vigil of November 5 while John Cardinal Njue will preside at the mass whose venue has not yet been identified.