Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa – 16 June 1946 – 02 February 1990
Writing to the Church in Africa, Pope Benedict XVI called for more African saints: “I encourage the pastors of the local churches to recognise among servants of the Gospel in Africa those who could be canonised according to the norms of the Church, not only in order to increase the number of African saints, but also to obtain new intercessors in heaven to accompany the Church on her pilgrim journey and to plead before God for the African continent. I entrust to Our Lady of Africa and to the saints of this beloved continent the Church that dwells there” (AM No 114).
From the time of the early Church, Africa has been richly blessed with many great saints, including three of the Early Fathers of the Church, Saints Augustine, Cyril of Alexandria and Cyprian. There have also been great women saints from that period, among them, St Monica, the mother of St Augustine, as well as many brave martyrs, including Saints Perpetua and Felicity. In more recent times Africa has given the Church additional outstanding saints and martyrs, such St Josephine Bakhita, a slave girl from Sudan, and the Ugandan martyrs, St Charles Lwanga and his twenty-two companions.
Catholics look to the saints and martyrs as their special ancestors in the faith. They are in perfect communion with God and also remain members of our human family deeply concerned about our welfare. We can therefore approach them with great confidence to bring our needs and concerns to God.
The powerful example of their lives is a source of courage and inspiration to us in the daily living of our faith. We too as disciples of Christ should be happy to share our faith with others and never be afraid to stand up for it, even at the cost of sacrifice or death itself.
It is important for the Catholic Church in Africa to respond to the Pope’s appeal for more African saints. In the Diocese of Tzaneen, Benedict Daswa was recognised in his own life-time as an exemplary Catholic, a devoted husband and father, a conscientious teacher and principal, who was deeply involved inthe life of the Church and of the local community. He was a man of truth, integrity and great charity. Benedict was admired for his courage in bearing witness to the faith in face of certain cultural beliefs and practices which are opposed it. After his brutal death the Catholic community kept his memory alive by visiting his tomb and praying there. The people encouraged the local Church leadership to initiate an investigation into his life and death with a view to his possible canonisation as a saint and martyr.
The Official Canonical Diocesan Inquiry into the life and death of the Servant of God, Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa, was completed in early 2009. This was accepted by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome in November 2010, as having met all the legal and canonical requirements. This approval from Rome was very encouraging to the Tzaneen Diocese, as it opened the way for it to actively promote the Cause of Benedict Daswa as a possible martyr and saint, not only for South Africa, but for the Continent of Africa, and indeed for the whole world.
We encourage people to learn more about this holy and courageous man and to be inspired by his example in standing up for the faith. For Benedict, human life was sacred and should always be respected and protected. As an apostle of life, he is very relevant for promoting a true culture of life in today’s world. For this reason we urge people to pray for his beatification and for favours through his intercession with God.
This Novena devoted to Benedict Daswa is a powerful form of prayer which can be used individually or in groups. We are confident that if this Novena is prayed with faith in Christ and in his Holy Spirit that God will bless you with many favours through Benedict Daswa’s intercession. We encourage anyone who has received favours through his intercession to make it known to others and to us.
Our sincere gratitude to Father Herman Van Dijck MSC for his work in producing this Novena Prayer.
Bishop Joao Noe Rodrigues, Diocese of Tzaneen
Bishop Hugh Slattery msc, Bishop-Emeritus, Tzaneen