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Kenya’s Declaration of 2015 Papal Mass Site as National Monument Honor to Church: Bishops

Dias Used during the November 26 Papal Mass in Kenya/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Kenya government’s declaration of the site where Pope Francis presided over public Holy Mass during his 2015 visit to the country as a national monument has been welcomed by the Catholic Bishops in the East African nation, terming it an honor to the Church and the Holy Father. 

In the Kenya Gazette notice Number 40114 of April 30, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Sports, Heritage and Culture, Amina Mohamed, declared the “building known University of Nairobi Papal Dias and the surrounding compound” a national monument.

Considered to be “of historical interest”, the Kenyan CS stated in the notice, would be protected. 

Speaking to ACI Africa Monday, May 3, the General Secretary of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Fr. Ferdinand Lugonzo, said that the gazettement of the 2015 Papal Dias “shows the honor that the government has given to the Holy Father.”

“It means that that it remains in the memories of the present and future generations of this country that Pope Francis visited the country and we want to relive those memories by protecting the Holy place where he celebrated (Holy) Mass for the nation,” Fr. Lugonzo said. 

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The members of KCCB have welcomed the gazettement of the building located at the University of Nairobi (UoN) as a national monument, he further said.

The gazettement “also strengthens the appreciation that the government of Kenya has towards the Catholic Church,” the Kenyan Priest said in reference to the Papal Dias used during the 26 November 2015 Papal public Holy Mass that was designed and constructed by Tectura International. 

In the May 2 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Lugonzo further said, “With such structures being gazetted as national monuments, then it is another way to show the high regard for the Catholic Church and the work it does.” 

The member of the Clergy of Kenya’s Kakamega Diocese added, “There are not many of those monuments and so it is a great honor for the Catholic Church in Kenya.”

“Now that this milestone has been achieved,” the General Secretary of KCCB said, “Our hope is that its protection also ensures that spiritual value.”

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“There is every reason for very deliberate efforts to protect it as a spiritual monument with the value that it has,” he said, adding that there is need for “concerted efforts” from the Kenyan government, the Church and the leadership of the UoN to care for the site. 

He continued, “It is very important to give the place some attention so that it is not gazetted as a national monument and then left without very clear strategies of how to conserve it and preserve it.”

In the April 30 Kenya Gazette notice, the CS for Sports, Heritage and Culture called on those with any objections to the declaration to lodge complaints with her office “within sixty (60) days from the publication of this notice.”