'Mother of Mercy' beatification in Kenya draws tens of thousands

'Mother of Mercy' beatification in Kenya draws tens of thousands

Sister Irene Stefani, Nyeri, Kenya. Courtesy of Kenya Yote.
Sister Irene Stefani, Nyeri, Kenya. Courtesy of Kenya Yote.

.- Massive crowds attended Saturday's beatification of early twentieth-century Italian missionary, Sister Irene Stefani, who was known as “mother of mercy” to the Kenyan people she cared for.

Pope Francis remembered the new blessed during his Regina Caeli address on Sunday in Rome, recalling how the member of the Consolata Missionaries had served the Kenyan people “with joy, mercy, and tender compassion.”

Speaking also about Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was also beatified Saturday in San Salvador, the Pope said: “The heroic example of these Blesseds sustain in each one of us the lively desire to give witness to the Gospel with courage and self-sacrifice.”

Sr. Irene Stefani (1891-1930) was beatified May 23 at the Dedan Kimathi University in Nyeri, Kenya in a ceremony attended by as many as 100,000 people, according to the country’s Daily Nation newspaper.

It was the first time a beatification has been held in Kenya. The process is the final step in the cause for sainthood before a person can be canonized. One of the requirements is the presence of at least one miracle officially attributed to the person the person.

The Daily Nation reports that the miracle attributed to Sr. Stefani occurred in 1989 during Mozambique's civil war. According to the report, 270 people had become trapped in the parish church of Nipepe amid the conflict. After praying for her intercession, the contents of a small Holy Water font was miraculously increased, providing enough drinking water for four days until help could arrive.

Born 1891, Sr. Stefani joined the Consolata Missionaries in 1911. She arrived in Kenya January 1915, where she served as a nurse. From the people she cared for, she received the nickname “Nyaatha” – which translates as “mother of mercy.” She died at the age of 39 after contracting a disease from one of her patients.

Tags: Beatifications, Pope Francis, Kenya