Pope Francis has declared 1 February as the feast day of Blessed Benedict Daswa beatified 13 September 2015 in South Africa.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints presided over the beatification ceremony of Tshimangadzo Samuel Bendict Daswa in Tshitanini, Thohoyandou, Limpopo, South Africa.
Cardinal Amato read out the decree from Pope Francis describing Daswa as a layman, a family man and an educator who gave heroic witness of the Gospel.
“We grant that the venerable servant of God, Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa, a layman and family man,… a zealous Catechist, all-round educator who gave heroic witness to the gospel, even to the shedding of blood, from now on be called ‘Blessed’ read the decree from Pope Francis. The crowd applauded and blew traditional horns.
A significant announcement at the ceremony was the Church’s declaration of 1 February as the feast day of Blessed Benedict Daswa. The announcement was made at Daswa’s beatification ceremony.
The local Ordinary, Bishop of Tzaneen, Joao Rodrigues also addressed the faithful. He said that Daswa’s death “makes him a hero for all Christians in Africa and elsewhere who are struggling to break free from the enslavement of the world of witchcraft…By his courage and his fidelity to the Catholic faith, Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa is a model for all the people in Africa,” Bishop Rodrigues said.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma described the beatification of Benedict Daswa as a significant moment for South Africa and the continent as a whole. President Zuma spoke through his spokesperson, Bongani Majola.
The Government of South Africa was represented at the ceremony by Vice President, Cyril Ramaphosa who told the pilgrims in Thohoyandou that this was an occasion in which all South Africans shared with deep faith and affection.
“This is the first time in the history of the Catholic Church of Southern Africa that a South African man is being recognised as a Blessed martyr of Christ,” He added, “This is, therefore, a special honour for the Church in this region. But it is also an extraordinary honour for the Daswa Family, who tragically lost a 43-year-old son and father on the 2 February 1990,” The South African Vice President said.
The beatification Mass was punctuated with a traditional flavor by attire and song.
Apart from the 30 000 people who gathered at Thohoyandou, millions of other Catholics in Africa were expected to have followed the beatification ceremony of Benedict Daswa via digital satellite television, DSTV on the SABC’s news channel 404 that is widely followed on the continent.
Daswa, born on 16 June 1946, was married with eight children. He was killed by a group of men who attacked him not far from his home because of his anti-witchcraft stance. He was praying on his knees when his executioners killed him. His fame as a martyr soon spread throughout the province and each year, on the anniversary of his death, a growing number of people would make a pilgrimage to his grave which is currently located in a small cemetery near his home.
Source: Vatican Radio