Pope Francis on May 27, 2028, asked for continued prayers for peace in Africa, noting the proclaiming blessed of Leonella Sgorbati, Consolata Missionary Sister, on May 26, 2018, at Piacenza, Italy.
Sister Sgorbati was “killed out of hatred of the faith in Mogadishu (Somalia), in 2006,” the Holy Father said. “Her life — spent for the Gospel and at the service of the poor –, as well as her martyrdom, represent a pledge of hope for Africa and for the whole world. Let us pray together for Africa, that there may be peace there.”
Sister Sgorbati was murdered on September 17, 2006. Her last words, as she lay dying of gunshot wounds, were: “I forgive, I forgive.” Pope Benedict XVI said at the time that he hoped that the death would be “a seed of hope” for a better future.
Leonella Sgorbati was born in Gazzola, Piacenza, Italy, on Dec. 9, 1940. She joined the Consolata Missionary Sisters in San Fre, Cuneo, in May 1963 and took her perpetual vows in November 1972.
After nursing school in England (1966-1968), she was appointed to Kenya, where she arrived in September 1970. From then until 1983 she served alternately at Consolata Hospital Mathari, Nyeri, and Nazareth Hospital in Kiambu on the northern outskirts of Nairobi.
In mid-1983, Sister Leonella started her advanced studies in nursing and in 1985 became the principal tutor at the school of nursing attached to Nkubu Hospital, Meru.
In November 1993 she was elected regional superior of the Consolata Missionary Sisters in Kenya, a duty she performed for six years.
After a sabbatical, in 2001 she spent several months in Mogadishu, looking at the possibility of setting up a nursing school in the hospital run by the SOS Village organization.
Hermann Gnemer School of Registered Community Nursing opened in 2002, with Sister Leonella in charge. The first 34 nurses graduated from the school this year, awarded certificates and diplomas by the World Health Organization because Somalia has had no government since 1991.
Sister Leonella was keen to train tutors for the nursing school. She returned to Kenya with three of her newly graduated nurses, to register them for further training at a medical training college.
She faced difficulties in obtaining her own re-entry visa to Mogadishu, due to the new rules of the Islamic courts that now control the city and its environs. She managed to return to Mogadishu on Sept. 13.