In his Angelus address, Pope Francis remembered the beatification of South Africa’s first blessed martyr, Samuel Benedict Daswa.
The beatification Mass took place in Blessed Daswa’s hometown of Limpopo and was presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the causes of Saints.
After a severe lightning storm on January 25th, 1990 which caused a number of thatched huts in his village to catch fire, the local council agreed to consult a traditional healer to identify the witch who was responsible for the burnings. A monetary contribution was agreed on to pay the person.
Daswa argued strongly against blaming witches for causing lightning strikes, arguing that it was natural phenomenon. When the decision was upheld, Benedict refused to pay the contribution, saying that his Catholic faith prevented him from taking part in anything connected with witchcraft.
On February 2nd, 1990, Daswa was ambushed by a mob, then stoned and beaten to death. According to witnesses, his final words were “God, into your hands receive my spirit.”
Recalling his life and martyrdom, Pope Francis said that Blessed Daswa showed consistency in courageously “taking on Christian attitudes and refusing worldly and pagan customs.” He also remembered all those who, like the South African martyr, are persecuted for the faith.”
“May his witness especially help families to spread the truth and charity of Christ, and may his witness, united with the witness of so many of our brothers and sisters – youth, elderly, boys and girls, children – all persecuted, kicked out, and killed for announcing Jesus Christ,” he said.
Concluding his remarks, Pope Francis called on the faithful to thank Samuel Benedict Daswa and all the Church’s martyrs and asked “that they intercede for us.”