Global Unity in Christ and the Martyrs of Burundi

In the light of the many narratives of division throughout the world, including Africa, the Bishops of Burundi, Africa, where the Xaverian Missionaries have worked for a number of decades, are working to celebrate the lives of recent martyrs of the country. Through this they wish to show that unity in Christ is more important than ethnic divisions in the country, which is at the heart of violence in many places in Africa.

The Bishops of Burundi greeted the opening of the diocesan phase of the Canonization Process, celebrated on June 21 in the Cathedral of Bururi, concerning two Italian Xaverian missionaries and one volunteer, killed in Buyngero in 1995, a Burundian priest killed in Gitega in 1972, and 40 seminarians from the minor seminary in Buta, killed in 1997. This is the first Cause of canonization that opens in Burundi.

The Xaverian Missionaries martyred were two priests and a lay volunteer:

Fr. Aldo Marchiol – Missionary with a gentle smile
killed in Burundi, together with Ms. Gubert and Fr. Maule, in 1995, in the rectory house of Buyengero. He was 65 years old.

Ms. Catina Gubert – A Lifetime Volunteer for Mission
Lay missionary of 73 years of age, who spend over 20 years in Africa, sharing her love. She died kneeling with Fr. Marchiol and Fr. Maule.

Fr. Ottorino Maule – Pastor, Missionary, and Prophet
It was Sept. 30, 1995. Together with Ms. Gubert and Fr. Marchiol, he was gunned down, as he was kneeling in the living room of the rectory. He was 53 years old.

The Bishops say: “These brothers and this sister in Christ are the heroes that we, the Bishops of Burundi present to you a single model that inspires love for fraternity. They represent the first group of probable martyrs that we present to the universal Church, to be officially declared martyrs and are for us all models of fraternity in Christian life and also in our whole Burundian society. We invite you to follow the different phases of the process in prayer and joy. We know many other brothers and sisters of Burundi who offered their lives in the name of inter-ethnic unity and we are sure that there will be other processes of canonization on martyrdom after the process we are beginning.”

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints suggested to include Abbé Michel Kayoya, who was killed in Gitega on May 17, 1972, and the forty seminarians killed on April 30, 1997 in the seminary in Buta, in the process.

Fr. Michel Kayoya, 38, was killed in Gitega on 17 May 1972. Priest, poet and philosopher, through his publications he always emphasized that ethnic differences more than being a threat are a wealth, a mutual gift. Charismatic figure, lover of truth, preached love without ever separating it from justice. He was arrested by an armed gang and imprisoned along with about fifty priests and lay people.

At 5 am on 30 April 1997 a gang of rebels attacked the minor seminary of Buta, diocese of Bururi. Faced with the refusal of the seminarians to separate according to ethnicity, the bandits opened fire, killing 40 young people, who belonged to the dioceses of Bururi, Bujumbura, Ruyigi and Gitega. The rebels fled after having sacked the Seminary and the Pastoral Center (see Fides ,2 May 1997). On the spot where they are buried, the Sanctuary of the fraternity was born, known internationally.

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