First African to be made saint – report

2015-02-08 14:05
File: News24

File: News24

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Johannesburg - Benedict Daswa, a Limpopo school principal who was stoned, beaten and burnt to death for his Catholic beliefs, is set to become the first South African saint, the Sunday Times reported.

Bishop Hugh Slattery, who headed the campaign for the beatification of Daswa, told the newspaper that the principal had taken a stand against witchcraft even though there were attempts on his life.

On 22 January this year, Pope Francis authorised the proclamation of beatification.

Slattery said there was a "distinct possibility" that the Pope might attend the ceremony.

"We hear that he's probably coming to Africa at the end of the year."

Daswa's story was contained in a report of almost 1 000 pages submitted to the Vatican.

Heavy rains and lightning

Born in Mbahe Village in 1946 as a member of the Lemba tribe - who consider themselves descendants of the Jews - Daswa converted to Catholism at the age of 17.

He was principal of Nweli Primary School, when, in November 1989, the area was hit by heavy rains and lightning strikes, some of which resulted in the destruction of huts.

Some community members believed witchcraft was involved and by January the following year, villagers began collecting money to have the witch behind the storms identified by a traditional healer.

However, Daswa refused to contribute and tried to convince the community the inclement weather was a natural phenomenon.

On 2 February 1990, Daswa was ambushed and killed by a mob which stoned him, smashed a knobkerrie over his head and poured boiling water over him.

He was 43.

This week, an invitation to attend the ceremony, will be handed over by the Archbishop of Durban, Cardinal Wilfred Napier when he visits the Vatican.

"We said it would be super if he could be here," Napier told the newspaper.

- The original version of this Sapa article incorrectly stated that Daswa would be Africa's first saint. He would be South Africa's first saint. News24 apologises for the error

Read more on:    roman catholic church  |  pope francis  |  polokwane  |  religion

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