The burial of Catholic Archbishop Emeritus Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki has been scheduled for Tuesday April 7th, in line with long standing Catholic traditions.
Archbishop Ndingi died on Tuesday after battling sickness related to old age for quite some time, with Kenyans paying tribute to the long serving cleric for his selfless dedication to his spiritual vocation as well as promoting education.
Nyeri Archbishop Anthony Muheria said Nzeki will be buried inside the Holy Family Minor Basilica, in a room next to the tomb of Mombasa Archbishop Emeritus John Njenga.
Archbishop Muheria said the remains will be in a coffin and will be interred in a tomb, similar to a cabin with two opening doors.
Over the years, there has been a close relationship between remains of saints and martyrs with the physical cathedral structure.
In 787, the Second Council of Nicaea, a conference of Catholic bishops, decreed that all new churches would be built with relics of saints placed inside altars.
Inscriptions of the late Archbishop’s personal details, including his date of ordination and the date of his death, will be written on an adjacent slab.
The world over, many Catholic Cathedrals have crypts holding remains of their bishops and cardinals.
Archbishop Muheria, who was given the task of identifying the actual place inside the Basilica where Nzeki will be buried, was also the one who pointed out the spot where Bishop Korir’s remains were interred at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Eldoret.
Muheria said the funeral will be a private one to conform to the government’s directive on social distancing, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The funeral will be attended by some bishops, priests and close family members only,” said Archbishop Muheria.
The Catholic Church has laid out an elaborate burial ceremony to include some of the most solemn Catholic rituals.
Normally, Catholic Bishops are buried in the cathedrals in dioceses where they last served.
Only Archbishop of Nairobi Maurice Cardinal Otunga was buried in accordance with his wishes at Saint Austin’s cemetery in Nairobi in August 2015.
Catholic prelates buried inside churches include Tiberius Mugendi of Kisii Diocese (1993) and Bishop Longinus Atundo of Bungoma (1996), Nyeri Diocese Bishop Gatimu Ngandu (1987) and his successor Nicodemus Kirima (2007).
The custom of placing relics of saints in new altars of churches is still considered desirable, though not compulsory.
In 2017, a decision to bury the late Eldoret Diocese Bishop Cornelius Korir inside the church cathedral, was arrived at through a conference of Catholic bishops.