Catholic Shrine Knows No Faith

Subukia holy place welcomes even Muslims through an uphill journey of faith.

A white cross seen from the main road serves as campus that leads to the Subukia shrine in Nakuru. Tucked underneath the hilly landscape, this Catholic shrine in the village of Mary Mother of God knows no religion.

Buses are packed at the entrance of the shrine and hundreds of people walk around the 200-acre piece of land. The pilgrims seem like they know what to do but there is a catechist seated near the entrance offering guidance to those who are unfamiliar with the shrine protocol.

Simon Kariuki, a catechist tells BDLife that this journey of faith takes the pilgrims through a chance to communicate with God, the Son and Holy Spirit.

Kariuki does not flinch even for a second when I tell him I’m Muslim and he continues to take me through the history and symbol of this Holy Land.

Pilgrims fetch “holy water” at the Subukia Shrine. The shrine, located in Nakuru County, has become famous and attracts people of faith and others from all over Kenya and beyond. It was named the Village of Mary Mother of God in 1984 by the late Michael Cardinal Maurice Otunga. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION

“At the foot of the cross, there is a piece of rock from the Grotto at Lourdes in France, a stone from River Jordan in Israel and another from the Marian Shrine at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina. All these show diversity and willingness to accept everyone,” he says.

There is, however, an intriguing aspect here, many of the pilgrims carry water in five-liter bottles while descending down a meandering path.

“Water does not travel uphill yet this can be found at the top of the hill. Water is a symbol of unity because it has no colour or smell, this one cures social, spiritual, psychological and physical suffering,” he says.

The path that leads to the spring is steep and Kariuki tells us it might take 20 minutes to get to the footpath leading to the spring. It is steep and one has to take 12 steps.

Each of the 12 steps has a cross and they symbolise the suffering of Jesus before crucifixion. Kariuki says that this climb is supposed to let the pilgrim understand the suffering of Christ.

Throughout the 12 steps, Catholics with rosaries in hand stop at every cross and say a prayer before proceeding to the next.

At the top there is an old chapel with wooden benches where a clear warning reads that this is not a picnic site. Across from it there is a large statue of Mary holding baby Jesus. It is here that water streams to a pond and is then connected to a tap.

At the bottom of what seems like the longest hill, we notice the construction of the big church has come to a halt and the men are packing up.

“They are almost done with this church which will be the second largest in Africa. It can hold about 5,000 people,” says Kariuki.

The shrine is only a few kilometres from Nyahururu town and after the long walk we head to Panari resort which is just 20 kilometres away. Panari offers massages at its spa, which is just perfect after a long day of walking.

For adventure lovers, Thomson’s Fall is right next. The waterfall is magnificent.

Source: Business Daily

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