Thieves in police uniform raid Nyaatha’s artefacts room

Sister Irene Stefani

Appointed fathers open the box in which the relics of Sister Irene Stefani had been kept since 1995 at Mathari Chapel in Nyeri on May 21, 2015. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Incident happened on Monday night at the Saint ArchAngel Michael Parish in Chaka town.
  • The first-degree relic is normally displayed at the altar on Sundays to allow the congregation to present their petitions.

Barely a month into the procession of the relics of Blessed Sister Irene Nyaatha across the Nyeri Archdiocese on her journey to sainthood, an attempted theft has been reported in one of the church premises where the remains are stored.

The incident, currently under police investigation, occurred on Monday night at the Saint ArchAngel Michael Parish in Chaka town where they have been kept for the last month.

The relics, along with items associated with the nun, were moved to the church on October 31 after her annual memorial mass which was officiated by Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria.

The sacred artefacts are scheduled to be moved monthly to various deaneries within Naromoru and Nanyuki towns with the purpose being, to gather miracles and intercessory prayers attributed to the nun's intervention until she is officially declared a saint by the Pope.

According to Charles Mwenda, a watchman assigned to guard the premises, two thieves, dressed in police uniform and armed with guns, broke into the premises after midnight around 2am.

Dressed in police uniform

They approached him under the guise of chasing a thief who had jumped over the church's fence.

At the time, Mwenda was on patrol and had just left the priest’s residence within the church compound.

"They asked me to follow them, only to turn against me near the church’s building where they ordered me to lie down before tying my hands and legs with a rope," he explained.

Sister Nyaatha

The box bearing the relics of Blessed Irene Stafani 'Nyaatha' is placed on a table in readiness for the thanksgiving mass.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

After some time, three more individuals dressed in police uniform joined them, demanding to know the location of the church’s offices.

Police investigations indicate that the initial point of entry was the secretary’s office situated at the rear of the church. 

The intruders searched the office cabinet for documents before proceeding to a computer room and a sacristy where the nun’s materials are stored.

First-degree relic

In this room, the church administrators keep souvenirs sold to the faithful, including cups, rosaries, scarves, badges, and prayer materials bearing the nun’s image.

Father Peter Githinji, the postulator in charge of causes of saints, beatification, and canonisation at the Archdiocese, revealed that fortunately, the relics are usually stored in a different location.

“We realised that they could have been searching for the relics because we found all materials related to the nun in the room disarranged, as if they were looking for something specific,” he said.

The first-degree relic, a bone of the late nun mounted on a gold-coated casting, is normally displayed at the altar on Sundays to allow the congregation to present their petitions.

This has been the practice for the past month, according to Fr Githinji.

Police sources report that forensic investigations are ongoing to identify and remove the fingerprints left on the materials.