Beatification of Sister Irene Stefani Nyaatha in Nyeri county

Christians from the Catholic Church will grace Nyeri town for a beatification ceremony of Sister Irene ‘Nyaatha’ Stefani.  

The beatification ceremony of Sr.Irene Stefani Nyaatha which will be held on 23rd May 2015, is entering its final preparation phase, and is expected to be attended by thousands of Kenyans and people from all over the world.

Sister Nyaatha was posted to Gikondi Catholic Parish in Mukurweini, Nyeri in 1920 where she was tasked with serving the underprivileged and the sick. In her time here, Sister Irene Stefani would be nick named ‘Nyaatha’ – a local word which means mother of mercy. She also taught religious songs, prayers, catechism, and baptising the locals.

Sister Nyaatha will be beatified owing to the miracle attributed to her intercession. It is believed her intercession resulted in the multiplication of water in the baptismal font at a church in Nipepe,  Mozambique. It was during the confrontation between two liberations movements Frelimo and Renamo which had made catechists and local refugees to segregate in the church with no water when a priest asked the refugees to intercede to Sister Irene Stefani Nyaatha  to provide them with water and miraculously, a Baptism font overflowed with water.

The beatification will start with a night of vigil at Gikondi Catholic Parish on Friday, before the main beatification service at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology on Saturday by Pope Francis representative, Cardinal Angelo Amato. On Sunday, there will be a thanksgiving at Our Lady of Consolata Cathedral.

Sister Irene Nyaatha Stefani met her death in 1930 after contracting a plague from a patient she had gone to treat.  The plague locally known as ‘murimu wa brake’, and is normally caused by fleas in mice.

Sister Nyaatha in Nyeri

Sister Irene Nyaatha Stefani arrived in  Nyeri in December, 1914 for missionary work and to spread the Catholic faith. At this time, the First World War was also spreading in Africa and Sister Nyaatha mission in Nyeri was suddenly interrupted. She was moved to coastal towns of Voi and Mombasa in Kenya, and later to Kilwa then to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania until the war ended in 1919. While in these area, she attended to the injured and the sick, and by treating their sores and wounds; distributing medicine and feeding the weak. She then returned to Nyeri in 1920 till she met her death.

Sister Nyaatha was born in 1891 and named Aurelia Mercede Stefani in Anfo, Brecia, north of Italy . She joined the Consolata Missionary Sisters in 1911 where she took the name of “Irene”, before she was sent to Africa work as a nurse by Blessed Joseph Allomano.

Reasons for Sister Nyaatha Beatification ceremony

Beatification comes from a Latin words beatus and facere, meaning to make blessed. It is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church to a dead faithful entrance to Heaven and his/her capacity to intercede on behalf of living faithfuls who pray in his or her name. Since 1983, for a person to be beatified, there has to be a believe that a miracle was performed through to his/her intercession.

The Nanyuki British Army Training Units (Batuk), have volunteered to offer Sister Nyaatha a military send-off for role she played in serving soldiers fighting in the first world war.  The five-soldier squad are expected to conduct military drills. Afterwards, they will then remove a casket with Sister Irene Stefani’s remains, place it on a hearse and march to a thanksgiving giving ceremony.

The beatification of Sister Irene Stefani Nyaatha will be the first beatification ceremony to be held n African soil and is expected benefit the Nyeri county economically.