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The Catholic Church in Kenya


The Catholic Church made its debut in Kenya in 1498, when the Portuguese Catholic explorer Vasco da Gama erected a Cross on the sea shore of Malindi. This was followed by a visit by St. Francis Xavier on his way to Goa (India) in 1542 and by the establishment of the Portuguese in Mombasa with the building of Fort Jesus. There was a community of 600 Kenyan Catholics in Mombasa in 1599. In 1631, 300 persons, half of them Portuguese, half Africans, were killed for their faith in Christ. In 1721 the Portuguese dominion of Mombasa came to an end and with it the first Christian community in Kenya.

In the middle of the XIX century Protestant Missionaries (Church Missionary Society, African Inland Church, Presbyterians and Methodists) resumed the evangelization of Kenya. The Holy Ghost Fathers were the first catholic missionaries to enter Kenya, in 1860, and to start the evangelization of the Coast. At the end of the century they started to expand inland, helped by the arrival of new missionary Institutes: the Consolata (1902) and Mill Hill Fathers (1903).

The Catholic Church in Kenya, with a fellowship of 9,010,684 faithful, is divided into 4 Ecclesiastical Provinces (Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nyeri) with 26 Archdioceses and Dioceses. The highest representative and leader of the Catholic Church is His Eminence John Cardinal Njue, the Archbishop of Nairobi.