Tens of thousands of Catholic pilgrims have attended the beatification, in the Kenyan town of Nyeri, of Italian-born Sr. Irene Stefani, Consolata Missionary Sister.
Sister Stefani went to Kenya in 1915 and worked as a nurse at British military hospitals during WW1. She died in 1930 at the age of 39.
She then settled near Nyeri where she was known as “Nyaatha”, meaning “mother of mercy” in the Kikuyu language.
Nyeri has held three days of beatification ceremonies, taking Sr. Irene a step closer to becoming a saint.
Tanzanian Cardinal Polycarp Pengo on Saturday, May 23 read a letter of beatification in Latin from Pope Francis, declaring that Sr. Irene “from now on will be called Blessed”.
For a person to be beatified, there must be verification that a miracle has occurred as a result of people praying to the beatification candidate after they have died.
In 1989 almost 300 people who were taking refuge in a church during Mozambique’s civil war prayed through Sr. Irene’s intercession and much-needed water was said to have appeared in the baptismal font at Nipepe Church.
“It was enough for all of them to drink, to refresh themselves and even to bath a baby girl who was born in that occasion.”