Daniel Comboni, born in Limone, Italy, in 1831, knew at an early age that he would be a priest and missionary. His love was Africa, and in 1854, when God called him there, Daniel answered with all his heart and soul.
Serious setbacks should have worn him down, but they only deepened his determination. “The thought that one sweats and dies for the 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,” he wrote.
St. Daniel devised a Plan not just to bring the Gospel to people who never heard it but also to prepare Africans to evangelize their own people – a revolutionary idea for his time. His motto, Save Africa with Africa, captures the essence of the trust he had in the African peoples.
Named the first Bishop of Central Africa in 1877, St. Daniel continued his faithful ministry until, at the age of 50, worn out and plagued by fever, he died, but not before founding the Comboni Missionaries and Missionary Sisters who today carry out their founder’s charism across Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. St. Daniel Comboni was canonized in 2003 and remains an inspiration to all who have a heart for mission.
1831 – Daniel Comboni is born March 15 at Limone on Lake Garda in Italy
1849 – Consecrates his life to Africa
1854 – Ordained a priest by Blessed John N. Tschiderer, Bishop of Trento on December 31
1857 – Makes his first trip to Africa but returns to Italy because of extreme challenges from climate and disease
1864 – Launches a project designed to “Save Africa through Africa,” with full confidence that Africans will become the leading agents of their own evangelization
1867 – Founds the Comboni Missionary Institute
1870 – Approaches the First Vatican Council to petition the Bishops that every local Church be involved in the conversion of Africa
1872 – Founds the Comboni Missionary Sisters
1877 – Is consecrated bishop and named the first Vicar Apostolic of Central Africa
1881 – Dies in Khartoum (Sudan, Africa) in the late hours of October 10, worn out from sickness and never-ending ministry
1995 – Is recognized for the miraculous cure of an Afro-Brazilian girl, Maria José de Oliveira Paixão that came about through his intercession
1996 – Beatified by John Paul II in St. Peter’s on March 17
2003 – Is recognized for the cure of a Muslim mother from Sudan, Lubna Abdel Aziz, a miracle worked through his intercession
2003 – Is canonized by John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica on October 5
The Missionary must be prepared for everything: for joy and sadness, for life and death, for embrace and abandonment, and I am ready for it all.