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16/9/2015 - South Africa - Beatification of Tsimangadzo Benedict Daswa

(ANS – Cape Town) – On Sunday 13 September 2015, His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato SDB, representing the Holy Father, presided over the Beatification Ceremony of Tsimangadzo Benedict Daswa, in the Diocese of Tzaneen, in the presence of more than 30,000 Faithful.

Benedict was described in the Apostolic Letter as "a layman and family man, martyr, zealous catechist and all-round educator, who gave public witness to the Gospel, even to the shedding of his blood". He was born on 16 June 1946, in the village of Mbahe in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. He was baptized in 1963 and confirmed in July of that same year. In 1978 he married Eveline Monyai and together they had eight children. He was a highly appreciated educator of youth and an exemplary father and husband. He gave great witness to his faith in his village and parish community through his different commitments as catechist, liturgical animator, promotor of works of charity and builder of justice and peace.

Benedict took a principled and public stance against the widespread practice of witchcraft, muti and ritual murder and refused publicly to co-operate with the local sangoma (witchdoctor) claiming that his Catholic Faith did not permit him to take part in witchcraft. Upset by his attitude - some local men and youth decided to get rid of him. He was stoned and bludgeoned to death in the village of Mbahe, not far from his home. While his executioners were killing him, Benedict was on his knees praying and he prayed until the last minute of his life on the 2nd February 1990.

The Diocesan investigation and process was begun by the then Bishop Hugh Slattery MSC. Salesian canon lawyer - Edmund O'Neill S.D.B from Cape Town was appointed as the Promotor of Justice in 2005. The official canonical diocesan inquiry was completed in 2009. This was accepted by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome in November 2010 and Benedict was termed a "Servant of God". Pope Francis approved the promulgation of the Decree of martyrdom which was issued on 26 January 2015. Fr O'Neill was privileged to oversee the Exhumation of the remains on the 24 August, when the casket was discovered to be completely intact, and the transfer that same day to a vault in the church of Our Lady of the Assumption from which Blessed Benedict had been buried twenty five years previously.

The ceremony was attended by the Vice President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, who was born in the same Province, and many other officials and representatives of Church and State. The fact that a son of South Africa is now esteemed because of his virtue and his martyrdom will help bring together the men and women of this country with so many ethnic groups, so many different religions and so many different Christian confessions.

Published 16/09/2015

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