Mai Mahiu church among world’s smallest : People who say Our Lady of the Pines is the smallest church in the world haven’t seen the Mai Mahiu Catholic Church. Its 15 feet by 8 feet, which is much smaller than Our Lady of the Pines, which is 24 feet by 12 feet. It’s often called the “Travellers Chapel.” But Mai Mahiu is without a doubt the smallest church in Kenya and all of Africa.

Mai Mahiu, which is sometimes called “Msikiti,” which is Swahili for “mosque,” can only hold twelve people for mass. Truck drivers from Mombasa who are going to central African countries that can’t be reached by land can’t avoid stopping here.

More than 500,000 Italian troops, sailors, and airmen were captured by British and Imperial forces during the Second World War. After being taken prisoner of war by the British, these Italians built the Mai Mahiu Catholic Church in 1942.

The story of how the church was built is interesting in and of itself. The Italians and the British could not pray together because the British were Anglican and the Italians were Catholic. The prisoners of war built their own place to pray. You won’t believe it, but they got this fit while working on the Mai Mahiu road. Each soldier worked on the church during their breaks from the road! Sadly, many of them died of malaria and attacks by wild animals, just like their friends who helped build the Italian War Memorial Church in Nyeri. Some died from snake bites from deadly snakes that are still living in the area.

The Mai Mahiu church, which is shaped like a pentagon, is full of Latin writing and images. Most of them are on top of the stained glass windows and front doors. Some of them reflect the happy mood of the time. “Come to me, my people” is what Venite Ad Memone says. The phrase “Haec Est Victoria Quae Vincit Mundum Fides Mustra” means “This is the victory that our faith has won the world.” It’s Benedicite Coeli Domino “Blessed be the sky and blessed again” is what “Benedicite” means. Some, like Universa Germinatia in Terra Domino, which means “everything will grow in the sky and on the ground,” are still a secret.

The church at Mai Mahiu is very interesting because it has more than just writings and symbols. A nativity scene mural from 71 years ago sits behind the altar and faces the audience. It shows the Christ child with his parents, Mary and Joseph, and angels all around them. There is no clear reason why most people still think this could have been the work of Navitatis NDJC even though the painting has the name Pittore R. written on it.

It looks like Navitatis, if he was a person, didn’t paint much before or after the painting at the Mai Mahiu Catholic Church. The written date, 25.02.1943, also seems to raise more questions than it answers. On that date, did the unknown artist begin or finish the mural? It could be the day the church was dedicated, or it could mean something else.

As you go deeper inside, you start to see more images. The Holy Trinity is shown by the three stairs at the front door: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The roof has two crosses and a compass, which means the church will be there as long as the world turns.

Mai Mahiu church among world’s smallest
Mai Mahiu church among world’s smallest

There is a second set of stairs outside the church grounds that lead to the graves of the men who died. A mausoleum for the Italian soldiers who died that is shaped like a cross that is fixed in place is especially interesting. It was given by Mrs. Nyagitha Miller, who was married to the late Chief Justice Miller. A new pillar was built at the door to the church with money from Mrs. Miller. People who want to pray alone will be able to use the pole.

The Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is more than just a place with a lot of history. It also has a lot of myths and mysteries that every tourist should explore on a Kenya safari. One riddle is a clock that keeps ticking even when no one is around. Another story that hasn’t been proven but is interesting is that the British drowned prisoners of war at sea, killing them. One of the most common myths is that the Italians hid a huge amount of money in the church’s concrete columns, along with rings, jewels, and wills. The claim has made everyone look for its “hidden treasure.”

The Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is now run by the Italian Embassy, the Kenyan government, and people who want to help. They spend money and time to protect this holy natural feature. From 6 AM to 5 PM, the church is free for everyone to visit. It’s interesting that only Hindus and Christians can worship there, but Muslims can only come.

Even though it’s small, the Mai Mahiu Church shows how far the soul is able to go in the face of hardship. Its small size brings to life the big idea that freedom and peace can help us get through the hardest times when we are with God.

It’s no surprise that it’s a popular place for weddings and picture shoots. There were original Italian bibles here, but thieves took them, so you will have to bring your own. The thieves also took the gate, an old clock, and some windows that were very old.

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