October 10, 2014
St Daniel Comboni (1831 – 1881)
Daniel Comboni: the son of poor gardeners who became the first Catholic Bishop of Central Africa, and one of the greatest missionaries in the Church's history.
It is a fact. When God decides to take a hand and select a generous and open-hearted individual, things happen: great, new things.
Daniel Comboni was born at Limone sul Garda (Brescia - Italy) on 15th, March 1831, into a family of cultivators employed by one of the rich local proprietors. Luigi and Domenica, the parents, were very attached to Daniel: he was the fourth of eight children, but the only survivor: all the others died young, six of them in their infancy. Due to poverty Daniel attended school in Verona, in the Institute founded by Father Nicola Mazza. During the years spent in Verona, Daniel discovered his calling to the priesthood; after the completion of his studies of Philosophy and Theology, he was entranced by the mission of Central Africa, drawn by the descriptions of the missionaries who returned from there to the Mazza Institute. Comboni was ordained in 1854, and three years later left for Africa, along with five other missionaries of the Mazza Institute and with the blessing of his mother Domenica, who told him: “Go, Daniel, and may the Lord bless you”.
After a journey of four months Comboni reached Khartoum, capital of the Sudan. He helped suppress the slave trade in the region. He worked on several dialects. He spoke six European languages, Arabic, and several central African dialects.
From the mission he wrote to his parents: “We will have to labour hard, to sweat, to die: but the thought that one sweats and dies for love of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the most abandoned souls in the world, is far too sweet for us to desist from this great enterprise”.