Posted in MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 15 August – Blessed Isidore Bakanja (c 1887-1909) Martyr

Saint of the Day – 15 August – Blessed Isidore Bakanja (c 1887-1909) Martyr, Layman, Evangelist, Marian devotee especially of the Holy Rosary and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Born in c 1887 at northeast Republic of the Congo and died on 15 August 1909 in Busira, équateur, Democratic Republic of Congo.bl isidore bakanja

Isidore Bakanja was born around 1887 in Bokendela in Belgian Congo and was evangelised by Belgian Trappist missionaries, receiving the Sacrament of Baptism at 18. He was a mild and honest young man who faithfully adhered to everything the missionaries taught him.   He carried a Rosary with him wherever he went and always wore “Mary’s Habit” (the Brown Scapular) underneath his clothing.

He was zealous in his faith and shared it with whomever would listen.   While he was not an official catechist, this did not stop his desire to spread the Gospel to all of creation.

He eventually left his village and moved to a larger city where there were more Catholics.   Bakanja sought work from a Belgian company and quickly discovered that they hated Catholicism as much as they despised the native African people.   He asked permission to go home and was immediately refused.

One of the agents especially did not like that Bakanja always tried to preach to his fellow workers.   He said, “You’ll have the whole village praying and no one will want to work.” The agent demanded that Bakanja throw away his scapular and when he refused to do so, the agent had him flogged.

The agent flogged him not once but twice and during the second flogging used a whip with nails at the end of it.   Bakanja received over 100 blows and it left him nearly dead. However, since an inspector was due to arrive the agent sent Bakanja away.   He was barely able to walk and hid himself by the side of the road until he saw the inspector.bl isidore martyrofthescapular

Horrified, the inspector later wrote about what he saw that day, “I saw a man come from the forest with his back torn apart by deep, festering, malodorous wounds, covered with filth, assaulted by flies.”   The inspector prevented the agent from killing Bakanja but it was too late.

He survived for another six months but in total agony, praying each day and offering his suffering to God.   Bakanja told the missionaries who came to give him the Last Rites that he already forgave his attacker, promising prayers for his soul, “Certainly I shall pray for him.   When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him very much.”

He died on 15 August 1909 with a rosary in his hand and wearing the Brown Scapular.

St Pope John Paul II Beatified him on 24 April 1994 and during his Beatification homily, he said:

“In an Africa that is sorely tried by ethnic strife, your shining example is an encouragement to harmony and reconciliation among the children of the same heavenly Father.   You showed brotherly love to all, without distinction of race or social class, you earned the esteem and respect of your companions, many of whom were not Christians. Thus you show us the necessary way of dialogue among men.”

Blessed Isidore, Martyr of the Holy Rosary and the Brown Scapular, Pray for Africa, pray for us all!bl isidore bakanja icon lg.JPG

Author:

Passionate Catholic. Being Catholic is a way of life - a love affair both with God and Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, our most Blessed and Beloved Virgin Mother Mary and the Church. "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco With the Saints, we "serve the Lord with one consent and serve the Lord with one pure language, not indeed to draw them forth from their secure dwelling-places, not superstitiously to honour them, or wilfully to rely on the, ... but silently to contemplate them for edification, thereby encouraging our faith, enlivening our patience..." Blessed John Henry Newman Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. "For the saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This is a papal fidelity site. Loyal and Obedient to the Current Pope and to the Magisterium United With Him.

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