S AFRICA: Pope declares February 1 Feast day of Blessed Benedict Daswa

JOHANNESBURG SEPTEMBER 15, 2015 (CISA) – Pope Francis has declared February 1 as the feast day of Blessed Benedict Daswa who was beatified on September 13 in South Africa.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints presided over the beatification ceremony that took place in Tshitanini, Thohoyandou, Limpopo, South Africa and read out the decree from the Pope.

In the decree Pope Francis described Blessed Daswa as an educator who gave heroic witness of the Gospel.

“We grant that the venerable servant of God, Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa, a layman and family man… a zealous Catechist, all-round educator who gave heroic witness to the gospel, even to the shedding of blood, from now on be called Blessed,” read the decree from the Holy Father.

Benedict Daswa was born on 16 June 1946 and was married with eight children. The South African school principal was killed 25 years ago by his fellow villagers for refusing to take part in a witchcraft-related ritual.

He was praying on his knees when his executioners killed him. Each year, on the anniversary of his death, people make a pilgrimage to his grave which is currently located in a small cemetery near his home.

Following his beatification, Blessed Benedict Daswa has joined a number of Africans, and people who worked in the continent on the path to sainthood.

The beatification comes four months after the Church beatified an Italian nun, Sister Irene Stefani who live and worked in Gikondi Nyeri and who cared for the sick and wounded during World War I.

Josephine Bakhita, a former slave from Sudan’s Darfur region, became her country’s first native saint in 2000.

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