The grisly murders of missionary priests and a local priest, a lay volunteer and 40 seminarians in Burundi are the focus of a recently opened investigation into their sainthood cause. Source: CNS.
Catholic bishops in this central African nation welcomed the step petitioned to the Vatican by the Xaverian Missionaries, founded in 1898 by St. Guido Conforti as the Pious Society of St Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions.
“The Church that is in Burundi through us bishops wants to celebrate a group of people who, in the name of Jesus, offered their lives to show that our fraternity in Christ is more important than belonging to an ethnic group,” the bishops said in a statement. “It is a great testimony, a message that we believe is truly necessary for all Christians.”
The step, which was approved by the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, is the first involving the church in Burundi, according to the Fides News Agency of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
The killings occurred at different times and localities in the country. Those who died include two Italian Xaverian Missionary priests, Fr Ottorino Maule, 53, and Fr Aldo Marchiol, 65; lay volunteer Catina Gubert, 74; local priest Fr Michael Kayoya, 38; and the seminarians.
The Italian missionaries and Ms Gubert were killed on September 30, 1995, at Buyengero parish.
An account of their deaths revealed that women religious who lived near the parish heard shots from the mission area but dismissed them because gunshots occurred regularly in the area.
“On Sunday morning, since they had not seen the fathers for Mass, they decided to go to the mission, where they found the three bodies in the living room. It was a real execution: The missionaries had been killed with a blow to the head. Only Catina had been killed with a blow to the chest. Nothing in the house had been touched or stolen,” the account said.
Fr Kayoya was executed in Gitega on May 17, 1972, with 50 others imprisoned by the government during a dispute between majority Tutsi and minority Hutu people.
The killing of the 40 seminarians occurred on April 30, 1997, when rebels attacked the minor seminary of Buta in the Diocese of Bururi.