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Italian nun moves towards sainthood in first Kenyan ceremony

Saturday, May 23, 2015 - 01:08

Thousands of Kenyans attend the beatification ceremony of Italian nun Irene Stefani, who helped the injured during World War One in east Africa. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: An Italian nun, who tended the sick and wounded in World War One in east Africa, was beatified in Kenya on Saturday, taking the final step before sainthood at the first ceremony of its kind in the African nation. To declare Sister Irene Stefani "Blessed", the Roman Catholic church said a miracle had been attributed to her in Mozambique's civil war, when about 270 people held captive in a church in 1989 in the heat of summer invoked her name and enough water multiplied in a font for them all. A separate miracle will be needed for her to become a saint. The Church teaches that God performs miracles but that saints who are believed to be with God in heaven intercede on behalf of people who pray to them. Reading a letter of beatification in Latin from Pope Francis at a ceremony near the Kenyan town of Nyeri, Tanzanian Cardinal Polycarp Pengo declared that the sister "from now on will be called Blessed". An English translation was read afterwards. Stefani, born in Brescia, Italy and named Aurelia Jacoba Mercede before taking vows with the Consolata Missionary Sisters in 1914, helped carriers who supported troops during fighting in World War One as conflict spread to British and German colonies. The carriers often fell sick from disease or exhaustion, according to her biography read at the ceremony. She served in both Kenya and Tanzania, later settling in Kenya where she later died aged 39 after contracting plague from someone she tended. Africans around her declared: "Love has killed her." Under Pope Benedict XVI, who retired in 2005, rules were changed so beatification rites were held where the subject lived with a cardinal presiding rather than at the Vatican.

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Italian nun moves towards sainthood in first Kenyan ceremony

Saturday, May 23, 2015 - 01:08