Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Friday, 18 November 2022
Kenya: Miracle that set Italian-born Catholic missionary nun on path to sainthood

Silas Isenjia/ :

The beatification of Venerable Servant of God Maria Carola Cecchin, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo (Cottolengo Sisters), was the climax of years of investigation into the miracle of bringing a stillborn child back to life.


Joyce Muriungi had gone to labor on the morning of 14 April 2013, and after hours of labor, she gave birth while on her way to St. Orsola Mission Hospital, Matiri assisted by Sr. Catherine Gathoni, a Cottolengo Nun, and a nurse. The baby, however, did not have a heartbeat.


It was at this point of desperation that Sr. Gathoni started praying through the intercession of Sr. Maria Carola, and the baby, Hilary Kiama Msafiri, came to life.


In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of the beatification of the Italian-born Nun who served in Kenya as a missionary for two decades from 1905, Sr. Gathoni narrated events of the night of the birth of baby Msafiri.


“The mother had visited our facility on 12th April with a forced labor but since she was not progressing, we sent her back home for rest on 13th April. But she came back on the same day at around 7:00pm. and said that the pain was getting worse. We tried what we could but there was no progress, so at around 1:00am we decided to take her to St. Orsola Matiri because the roads leading to other hospitals were in bad condition.” Sr. Gathoni said during the November 5 interview.


An hour into the drive to St. Orsola hospital, Sr. Gathoni recalls the mother of Msafiri informing her and the nurse who were accompanying her that the child was coming.


“The driver stopped the vehicle and we helped her to deliver, but the child was lifeless. The nurse tried to resuscitate the baby but she told me that it was a stillbirth. She gave me the child and I just put him aside without covering him as it was still raining,” the Kenyan-born Nun narrated, adding that she instructed the nurse to focus on Mrs. Muriungi who was bleeding heavily.


At this point of desperation, Sr. Gathoni recalls invoking divine intervention for the stillborn baby to come to life.


“I took a short breath and that is when I said, Maria Carola, do a miracle. I just then sat there looking at the child when all of a sudden, I noticed a movement on the child’s chest and then he opened his hands. That is when I shouted to the nurse and said, ‘he is alive!’” she recalled the events of April 2013.


Sr. Carola was born on 3 April 1877 in Cittadella (Padua, Italy) and died on 13 November 1925 aboard a ship on the Red Sea as she traveled from Kenya back to her native country for treatment.


She was declared venerable on 23 November 2020 by Pope Francis and beatified during the November 5 celebration that was presided over by the Papal delegate to the event, Antoine Cardinal Kambanda.


In an interview with interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of the beatification ceremony, Mrs. Muriungi recalled the events of April 2013, saying that although she was too weak to witness events after her son's birth, she remembers holding her lifeless child before she passed out.


She said, “When we were on our way, the child was born, but he did not cry.”


“I was having complications and so the doctor attended to me and I was given the child as we headed back to the hospital. When I returned to the hospital, I could not figure out what was going on because my health situation was getting worse,” she said.


In a separate interview with ACI Africa, Joseph Muriungi who had taken his wife to hospital while in labor pain said he concentrated on his wife since he was told that the unborn child had no signs of life.