Catholic Bishop to be Buried After 15 Years

  • The late Bishop Silas Njiru
    The late Bishop Silas Njiru
  • It could take more than a decade to bury the first African Catholic Bishop of Meru Silas Njiru at St Joseph's Cathedral in Meru town.

    Bishop Njiru, who died on April 28 in Turin, Italy, was to be flown back to the country for an internment process in line with the Catholic traditions.

    The Italian authorities, however, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, ruled out the possibilities of bringing the body back home stating that the earliest possible time would be 2035.

    A catholic mass in progress
    A catholic mass in progress

    “We were very keen to bring the bishop to the seat of the diocese – the cathedral where he should rest alongside his predecessor, Bishop Lawrence Victor Bessone.

     “But the Italian Covid-19 protocols prohibit either the airlifting of the body or cremation until 15 years lapse,” Father David Kaberia, who is in charge of the Meru Cathedral parish, stated.

    Njiru's body is temporarily buried in Turin after Bishop Salesius Mugambi wrote a deed to the Consolata Missionaries Superior and the Holy See in Rome. This allowed for the body to be temporarily interred.

    “That was only because it was not possible to bring the remains immediately for internment in the seat of the diocese,” Kaberia noted.

    Bishop Njiru had been living in Turin at the Blessed Allamano house of the aged, run by Consolata missionaries, when he contracted the virus. 

    After three days at the Intensive Care Unit, he passed away at Rivoli hospital, aged 92. 

    The Catholic traditions allows for bishops to be buried in crypts below the churches they served. Currently, the Meru Cathedral has 12 crypts in honor of the past bishops who passed away.

    The practice dates back to the early persecution of Christians who were buried in caves when they died. It is believed that the first churches were built over these graves in order to pay homage to the martyrs.

    The late Archbishop Emeritus  Ndingi Mwana a' Nzeki, who died on March 30, was also buried in a holy crypt in an underground chamber at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi.

    A coffin
    A coffin