CANAA || By Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 19 November 2015

The altar to be used for the open air Papal mass next Thursday, November 26 has been moved to Nairobi from the Central Kenyan town of Nyeri, where it was having been used during the beatification of Blessed Irene Stefani. The hand-crated altar, which dates back to almost one hundred years, was chosen by Church leaders in Kenya for its rich history and for its religious symbolism.

The symbol of hands raising the Eucharistic body and blood of Jesus atop a tabernacle are engraved at the front of the altar to symbolize the self-giving sacrifice of Jesus who offered his body and blood for the salvation of humanity.

The rear of the altar is engraved with a dove facing downwards, pouring water from a bowl, the symbol of the coming down of the Holy Spirit at baptism, which admits one to the Christian family. Beneath the dove is etched a basket of bread on top of a fish, symbols of the spiritual nourishment that originates from divine life. Another symbol carved on the altar is a pelican and its young one sitting on the globe, with the pelican appearing to help its young to feed on its own flesh, reminiscent of Jesus giving his life for the salvation of humankind.