The president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference has sent a message to the faithful regarding the upcoming beatification of Benedict Daswa, a layman, husband and father who was martyred.
Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town says the new blessed will be “a role model and powerful intercessor for all the Catholics of our region and in particular for young men, husbands and fathers.”
He will be beatified near Thohoyandou in the Province of Limpopo on Sept. 13, by the prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Cardinal Angelo Amato.
Benedict Daswa was born in 1946 and killed Feb. 2, 1990.
Here is the text of Archbishop Brislin’s message:
To the People of God of Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
God has blessed the Church in Southern Africa in a very special way by the gift of Benedict Daswa as the first Martyr for the faith. On 13 September 2015, he will be officially declared Blessed Benedict Daswa by Cardinal Angelo Amato SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican. Cardinal Amato will be representing Pope Francis.
Benedict Daswa was a committed lay Catholic and the loving husband and father of a large family; a dedicated teacher and volunteer catechist, an active and charitable member of the community. He took seriously the call to holiness which we all have received in Baptism. He will be a role model and powerful intercessor for all the Catholics of our region and in particular for young men, husbands and fathers.
Benedict’s great moral courage and his passion for the truth led him to openly and very publicly oppose the belief and practice of witchcraft. This courageous witness to the faith led to his martyrdom. Aware of the fear caused by the practices of identifying witches, the harm this does to the fabric of social relations and the inevitable killing of innocent people, he was prepared to oppose this practice which still persists today, out of love for Christ and at the cost of his own life. For Benedict the life of every human being was sacred and precious and had to be protected and respected. In this he was a true apostle of life.
The beatification of this son of Africa means that Benedict will be officially recognised as a Saint for this part of the world, but not yet for the Church universal. From now on the first of February will be celebrated as his feastday.
We wish to express our gratitude to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for officially recognising Benedict as a martyr and for sending Cardinal Amato to lead the ceremony of beatification in his name.
We also express our appreciation and gratitude to the Diocese of Tzaneen and the many people who have worked in promoting the Cause of Benedict Daswa and in preparing for his beatification.
The beatification will take place during Holy Mass at Tshitanini near Thohoyandou in the Province of Limpopo, the home and place of martyrdom of Benedict. The little church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven, at Nweli, near to the site of beatification, will serve as the temporary resting place of the mortal remains of this martyr.
We invite as many as possible of the faithful to be present at the beatification ceremony. It is our wish that those who cannot come to the ceremony be united in spirit and prayer with those present at Tshitanini. During the coming weeks we encourage all the faithful to be united with the Diocese of Tzaneen in prayerful preparation for the beatification.
We encourage all the faithful to imitate Benedict Daswa by living their Catholic faith with courageous and humble commitment. Pray to him and make novenas to him, asking for special graces and favours and even miracles. Display his picture in your parish churches and homes, in your Catholic schools and other church buildings. Go as pilgrims to visit the shrine of Benedict Daswa as it develops in the coming years and also visit his tomb at the nearby church at Nweli. We also appeal to your generosity in giving financial support to the Diocese of Tzaneen to help with the development of the shrine which will cost a considerable amount of money.
Benedict can only become a Saint for the whole Church if he is canonised. For this to take place, a sign from God, a miracle in answer to Benedict’s prayers, must take place. Any claims to such a miracle would need to be thoroughly investigated by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which up to now has made a thorough study of the testimonies given by people who knew Benedict well. It is important that we pray to this martyr for the faith with confidence, using the official prayer to obtain favours as a witness for his canonisation. Any answers to prayers should be reported to the Promoter of the Cause for Canonisation of Benedict Daswa in the Diocese of Tzaneen.
We ask God to bless the peoples of Southern Africa on the occasion of the beatification of Benedict Daswa and we invoke the prayers and patronage of our Mother, Mary, Queen Assumed into heaven.
Archbishop of Cape Town
President of SACBC