Sister Maria Carola Cecchin beatified in Meru

Blessed Maria Carola Cecchin beatified

Religious leaders walk past a portrait of Blessed Maria Carola Cecchin after she was beatified on November 5, 2022, at Kinoru Stadium, Meru County. 

Photo credit: Charles Wanyoro | Nation Media Group

A Catholic nun who served among the underprivileged in Kenya close to 100 years ago was yesterday beatified in a colourful ceremony at Kinoru Stadium, Meru County.

Pope Francis declared Sister Maria Carola Cecchin Blessed, through an Apostolic Letter read by the Archbishop of Kigali, Rwanda, Antoine Cardinal Kambanda, who presided the mass on behalf of the pontiff.

Cardinal Kambanda together with the Superior General of the Sisters of St Joseph Cottolengo, Mother Elda Pezzuto then unveiled the image of the Blessed Maria Carola, as the faithful stood and broke into song.

Sr Catherine Kathoni who was among those who encountered a miracle attributed to Blessed Carola, presented a rosary that she used for prayer before she died in 1925.

The rosary was the only relic associated with Blessed Carola that was placed at the altar for veneration before the mass started.

Various speakers paid warm tributes to the nun, with Meru Bishop Salesius Mugambi hailing her as “as one of the heroines of faith.”

“Her mission zeal, love and enthusiasm coupled with charity and love for the poor particularly in her last years here in Tigania parish continue to inspire Christians to imitate and follow in her faith,” said Bishop Mugambi.

Mother Pezzuto said Blessed Carola loved peace and encouraged dialogue to resolve disputes and had earned a nickname “Mwari mwega” (good lady) among the Meru people.

“She had lived her last five years in harsh conditions but she generously continued to serve the people… She remains a model of missionary life for she was respectful of the culture of the people of Kenya and was able to spread the gospel in this country,” she said.

Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) general secretary, Martin Kivuva, said holding the event in Meru was a major boost to the church in Kenya as it would propel faith.

“For we who have witnessed what has taken place here must be very blessed because not many of us will ever have a chance many times to witness making of saints, especially such a case of a solemn beatification of a member who lived in an area you know,” he said.

Senate Deputy Speaker Kathuri Murungi, Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki, Meru Deputy Governor Mutuma M’Ethingia called for unity among leaders to honour the canonization of Blessed Carola.

“We have learnt a lot from the beatification that it's not the length of life but the quality… How many lives you touch, how you use the position of influence you have to touch lives,” said Mr Muthomi.

Present were MPs Rahim Dawood (North Imenti), Dr John Mutunga (Tigania West), Mpuru Aburi (Tigania East), Elizabeth Kailemia (Meru) and Susan Ngugi, former Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and former deputy governor Titus Ntuchiu.

Also present were Nairobi Archbishop emeritus John Cardinal Njue, Italian ambassador to Kenya, Apostolic nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan Hurbertus Van Megen and dozens of bishops and other religious leaders.

During the event, former DCI George Kinoti was recognized as one of the people who had made huge donations to the Cottolengo Tuuru mission that caters for disabled children.

"He requests that you continue praying for him and his family through Blessed Sr Maria Carola," said Fr Charles Mwongera.

Sr Carola who served in Limuru, Mugoiri, Wambugo, Nyeri, Tuthu, Icagaki, Igoji and Tigania, is the second person to be beatified in Kenya after Blessed Irene Stefani Nyaatha was canonized in Nyeri, in May 2015.

Her beatification was authorized by Pope Francis 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, they observed the child who was unresponsive and decided to concentrate on saving the mother who was also in critical condition.

During this process, Sr Catherine Kathoni continued praying to Sr Maria Carola calling upon her intervention 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.

Hilary Msafiri Kiama is today a bubbly nine-year boy who goes about his life like any ordinary boy and aspires to be a policeman.