Thousands of Legio Maria faithfuls have started arriving at the church’s headquarters and Shrine at Got Kwer in Migori for the annual pilgrimage.
The worshipers, who are dressed in multi-coloured robes and have wooden crosses and swords, arrived on foot, motorcycles, bicycles and vehicles at the shrine where their ‘Messiah’ Melkio was buried in 1991.
Many of the faithfuls arrived at the shrine in the outskirts of Migori town between Thursday and yesterday in readiness for the pilgrimage characterised by a procession during which worshipers attack ‘demos’ with their wooden swords.
Beefed up security
Yesterday, the police beefed up security around Got Kwer amid fears that the two factions claiming leadership of the church could clash.
Amid chants of “Ave Ave Maria”, the faithful trooped to Got kwer hills and Amoyo Jerusalem shrines in Suna West and Nyatike sub-counties even as others expressed concern the leadership row could spoil the pilgrimage.
Early this week, a group of worshipers were injured, two vehicles had their windscreens smashed when unknown people attacked the Got Kwer headquarters.
Speaking to the Sunday Standard on phone, “Pope” Raphael Adika allayed fears of tension, saying the pilgrimage programe was going on smoothly.
He said the faithful started arriving on Thursday for the prayers to be followed with long processions from Amoyo Jerusalem to Got Kwer on September 11 and 12.
“The coming event will be peaceful. We have no problems, save for a few disgruntled elements. The High Court has resolved the leadership row,” Adika said.
The church has not known peace ever since the death of Ondetto, as various leaders have come to proclaim his position.
The current row pits Adika and Romanus Ongombe, and each claim to be the church’s leader (Pope).
On May 20, Ongombe and Adika held a meeting at St Michael Kwayo Mapera Legio Maria Church in Suna East Sub-county, where they reconciled.
On August 8, Justice Antony Mrima reinstated Adika as the leader of the Legio Maria of East Africa Church Mission.
Access worship centres
“By consent, the matter herein marked as settled and Raphael Adika remains the only pope of the Legio Maria as per the church constitution as Romanus Ongombe resumes his role as cardinal of the church,” read part of the ruling.
Justice Mrima further ruled that all church members were at liberty to access every worship centre of the church without hindrance from either faction. Some church leaders are however still not satisfied with the court ruling.
Joseph Odhiambo, chairman of Legion Maria Migori said the two leaders have decided to come together.
“We have had differences in our church for over 10 years now, and this is the first time the factions are going to join each other during this worship period,” Said Warambo.
Migori Police Commander Joseph Nthenge said they will ensure there is calm during the pilgrimage.
“They must ensure they maintain peace, they must follow what they signed in court,” Nthenge said.
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