Saint Daniel Comboni
At a time when Africa was the place of great expeditions and explorations, Saint Daniel Comboni developed a love for Africa and the Africans that would last all his life. In 1857 from Verona, where he had trained for the priesthood, he went as a young missionary to Sudan. He returned to Europe several times for health reasons, on vocation recruitment and for fund raising. He was entrusted with a vast mission that included the whole of Central Africa and in 1877 was named the first Bishop of Khartoum where he died just four years later.
St. Daniel Comboni soon realized that to ensure continuity to his mission to the vast African continent, he needed to form a group of priests, lay brothers and sisters. He started in 1867 in Verona by putting together a group of men – missionary priests and lay brothers – and in 1872 he founded the Comboni Missionary Sisters.
St. Daniel Comboni looked at Africa with faith and respect and saw potential where others saw only extreme and crippling poverty. He also designed a Plan where he saw Africans as architects of their own destiny. The kernel of the Plan was to ‘Save Africa through Africans’. The most profound aspect of Comboni’s prophetic vision was in his understanding of martyrdom: he yearned to be so fully united with his Lord that he would willingly sacrifice his life for the Lord and for Africa; like the grain of wheat that would die and produce a harvest for the whole of Central Africa.