Kenya declares national holiday for papal Mass

Pope Francis to highlight inter-religious dialogue and poverty.

The Kenyan government has declared a national holiday of prayer and reflection in honour of Pope Francis who will celebrate an open-air Mass at the University of Nairobi on 26 November.

The event, which is expected to attract 1.4 million people, is part of the 25-27 November visit of the pontiff who will stay at the apostolic nunciature in the Westlands district of the capital.

The Central Business District (CBD) in Nairobi will be in lockdown in the hours around the papal Mass, with no traffic permitted except the presidential and papal motorcades. Only emergency service vehicles will have access to the university.

The pontiff, who is expected to land in Nairobi on the evening of 25 November, has a busy schedule on 26 November. He begins the day with an inter-religious meeting before celebrating the public mass in the university's Graduation Square, where a special altar has been constructed.

A key aspect of the pontiff’s trip will be his 27 November visit to the city’s Kangemi slum, in the outskirts, to “highlight the plight of poverty” and view the work of Christian aid agencies, as well as meet with leaders from the other slums in Nairobi.

Kenya is the first country Pope Francis will visit during his African visit from 25-30 November. On 27 November he will travel to Uganda and then to the Central African Republic on 29 November. He is expected to deliver messages themed around sectarian violence, the environment and poverty.

This is the first trip to Africa for Pope Francis.