Pope declares first South African Catholic martyr

Pope-FrancisAfter yesterday’s Angelus prayer, Pope Francis declared South Africa’s Samuel Benedict Daswa – the Catholic Church’s first martyr in that country – as ‘blessed.’

Daswa, a primary school teacher, was stoned to death in 1990 in Tshitanini, a village in the province of Limpopo, for attributing a fire affecting some huts to lightning and not to the forces of evil, and for refusing to pay for the services of a native diviner (Sangoma) to end the storms.

Pope Francis said: “In his life, he always showed great coherence, bravely assuming Christian attitudes and refusing worldly and pagan habits. May his witness especially help families to spread Christ’s truth and charity. His witness joins that of many of our brothers and sisters, young and elderly, children, persecuted, cast out and killed for confessing Jesus Christ. We thank all these martyrs for their witness, Samuel Benedict Daswa and all of them, and ask them to intercede for us.”

He concluded by greeting teachers from Sardinia in precarious working conditions, and expressed hope that the problems of the world of work “be faced taking into full consideration the family and its needs.”

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