Pope spurns five star luxury for modest Vatican embassy in Westlands
A day before the Pope landed in Kenya, no visible security could be observed patrolling the carefully manicured grounds where the Apostolic Nunciature, the official residence of the Pope’s representative to Kenya, stands.
A spot check on Tuesday revealed that only regular security guards manned the entrance to the residence of the Vatican ambassador in Westlands, Nairobi, and no rigorous security checks were performed on the vehicles entering the compound.
Yet, it is in this same house that Pope Francis will reside in the three days he will spend in Kenya.
The relaxed air and general tranquility at the residence was a far cry from the tight security that marked US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country in July.
No uniformed personnel lined the lane leading to the residence, and the compound itself was devoid of any heavy military-grade vehicles.
But parked right in front of the modest mansion that houses the Vatican ambassador was the Popemobile — a modest white Isuzu D-Max truck with a raised covered back — the vehicle in which Pope Francis will ride during his stay in Kenya.
It was parked right by the door of the house, alone and unassuming, as modest as the Pope who will be riding in it. It was perhaps the most telling clue of the high status of the visitor who will be in residence.
A more subtle change was intimated by a nun stationed at the residence, who told Nation that security at the embassy has been taken over by the Swiss Guard, a unit of highly trained soldiers responsible for the safety of the Pope.
The Swiss Guard was formed in 1929, and is in charge of security at the Apostolic Palace, the Pope’s official residence at the Vatican, Rome.
Although it is supposed to function as the Vatican’s official military, it has never been involved in any military action.
The nun, who requested not to be named, said all preparations for the arrival of the pope have been completed and that everybody was excited to receive the Holy Father.