As it happens every year, the “National Day of Prayer for Peace” was celebrated on the first Saturday of October at the National Shrine of Subukia in Kenya. The Shrine is entrusted to the care of the Friars Minor Conventual of the Provincial Custody of St. Francis of Assisi. The Custody belongs to the Province of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in Poland (Gdańsk).

This prayer meeting was organized by the Catholic Episcopate of Kenya under the theme: “Do Not Be Afraid, Mary, for You Have Found Favor with God.” (Lk 1:30). The celebration began with Mass on Saturday evening followed by a Eucharistic procession and Eucharistic adoration that lasted throughout the night. It ended with the Mass of Indulgence on Sunday.
During this time, the friars and other priests, administered the Sacrament of Reconciliation to the numerous pilgrims.
Seventeen bishops participated along with the Apostolic Nuncio. Fifty thousand pilgrims came from all over Kenya.
At the end of the meeting, the throng of pilgrims was “blessed” by some rainfall which everyone considered as “grace from heaven”.
The Catholics of Kenya are very devoted to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and many people (individuals, families and groups) come to this National Shrine throughout the year for a number of different events. The community of friars in Kenya is dedicated not only to setting up these events, but also offering sacramental and logistical assistance.
The place was named “The Village of Mary” in 1984 by His Eminence, Maurice Cardinal OTUNGA. The name “Subukia” comes from the Masai word isupuku which means “higher ground”; in fact, the Shrine is located in the upper elevations of this area and so people say: ‘Mother is always gazing upon us’.
There is also a spring of ‘miraculous water,’ as many believe. The water flows out from the top of the ridge (where the Stations of the Cross are followed by climbing several steps). The spring never runs dry, even during the dry season.
The Shrine appeals to both Christians and non-Christians; everyone is attracted to this “holy place”, as announced at the entrance.
The Shrine was constructed in the shape of Mary’s crown and was built almost exclusively with donations from the Christians of the country. It measures 50 meters [164 feet] in diameter and can hold up to five thousand people.
Next to it there is a large friary accommodating a sizeable community of friars dedicated to pastoral service. Moreover, the confreres, with the help of the Custody of Assisi, have built a “spiritual center” with sixty rooms to be used for the various activities carried out in the Shrine and its surroundings. A small carpentry school for young people was also built. The parcel of land which the Episcopal Conference donated to the Order is very large, so the friars are studying many development plans for this place.

Friar Kazimierz SZULC, Provincial Custos