Anti-Witchcraft Catholic May Become Saint

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

South Africa: Anti-Witchcraft Catholic May Become Saint

  Pretoria — A Catholic who was killed 19 years ago

for rejecting his people's belief in witchcraft could become

South Africa's first saint.

The Diocese of Tzaneen has completed the first phase

of the cause for beatification and canonization of

the Servant of God Benedict Daswa.

The phase took five years to complete.

The final documents addressed to Archbishop Angelo Amato SDB,

Prefect of the Congregation for Causes of Saints, were signed

on July 2 by Bishop Hugh Slattery MSC, Bishop of Tzaneen,

Sr Sally Duigan OLSH, Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

and Chancellor of the Diocese, Fr Andre Bohas MSC,

Postulator of the Cause and Fr Eddie O'Neill SDB, the Promoter of Justice.

The documents consist of over 850 pages of testimonies

of reliable witnesses to the life and death of the Servant of God.

The original copy, which was sealed first, remains

in the archives of the Diocese of Tzaneen.

The transcript copy and public copy were then sealed and are

to be taken to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome,

through the the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop James Green.

The Transcript and Public Copies will remain sealed until

the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approves

a Roman Postulator to proceed with the next phase

of the process.

Information about the Servant of God and

the Cause may now be made known to the public.

It is thought that Benedict Daswa led a holy life

and became a genuine martyr for the faith.

The next stage will be to prepare prayer cards and a novena

to enable people to pray for favours through

the intercession of the Servant of God.

A short biography and DVD will be produced to make Benedict Daswa

more widely known here in South Africa and

in other African countries,

as a role model for all and a great witness to the faith.

According to a biographical note published by

the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference,

Benedict grew up in a traditionalist family who belonged to

the small Lemba tribe who live mainly among the Venda people

in the Limpopo Province.

He became a Catholic while training to become a primary school teacher.

Benedict soon realized that witchcraft was against his Catholic faith.

From then on in his private life and also in public

he took a strong stand against witchcraft because

he said it led to the killing of innocent people

accused of witchcraft activities.

He also rejected the use of muti or medicines for protection

against evil or for success in sport or other activities.

It was this stand against witchcraft which eventually

led to his death.

A few days after refusing to give money for the purpose

of smelling out witches,

he was stoned and bludgeoned to death

on February 2, 1990.

He was just four months short of his 44th birthday.

             J-L K.
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