After the construction that lasted 35 years, Nairobi was bequeathed the All Saints’ Cathedral, a magnificent building rich in symbolism that seeks to mirror the spiritual journey of an Anglican.
Located at the intersection of Kenyatta Avenue and Processional Way, the building has been a crucial element in the history of the country over the 102 years it has been in existence.
The building was conceptualised in 1914 at a meeting chaired by Governor Henry Conway, and addressed by the Archbishop of Cape Town. The agenda was to address the desire of Chaplain Reverend W. M. Falloon.
The chaplain had suggested the building of a Whites-only church to replace St Stephen’s Church, which was not big enough to accommodate large numbers. A committee was formed to oversee fund-raising for the church.
Temple Lushington Moore, a Grand Master among the Freemasons, designed the cathedral. His Gothic predilection, characteristic of the over 40 churches he designed, is evident in the Cathedral’s build. It was also the Freemasons who built the cathedral.
Canon Sammy Wainaina, the cathedral’s provost, says that the Freemasons were a group of skilled masons who could practise their craft anywhere in the world, and are not devil worshippers many Kenyans believe they are.
The buildings’ foundation stone was laid in 1917 by the governor and a prayer document buried under it. Just like other cathedrals, it has an East-West orientation so that congregates can face the rising sun to symbolise the Risen Christ.
The building’s cross-like shape symbolises the cross on which Christ was crucified and creates room for movement of congregates. Construction, which took place in four stages from 1917 to 1952, was done using grey stone from Lang’ata quarries and Government House, what we know as State House.
The building was completed in 1952 and consecrated on March 21, the same year, by Bishop Crabbe.
It was not until 1963 after independence that Africans were allowed to use the facility for worship. Seven years later in 1970, bishop Festo Habakkuk Olang’ became the first African Archbishop.
An organ was installed in 1934 and refurbished in 2014 at a cost of Sh2.9 million. It also has two Royal Bibles donated by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Its walls are decorated with stained-glass windows with the outstanding one being the circular Rose Window, which traces its origin to the 13th century works of Comacini an Italian designer.
The cathedral’s compound is dotted with indigenous trees and cypress whose seeds came from Jerusalem and others from the Garden of Gethsemane and the Garden of the Tomb.
Apart from its Sunday services, the Cathedral hosts occasions such as weddings and funerals during the week. By engaging its congregation in its operations, the cathedral has been able to attract worshippers across different backgrounds.
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