Last Thursday, December 14, the Holy Father received in the audience Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He authorized the promulgation of eight decrees concerning the miracles, martyrdom, and heroic virtues of two Venerable Servants of God and nine Servants of God.
Among the newly declared blesseds are three Xaverian Missionaries: Luigi Carrara, Giovanni Didoné, and Vittorio Faccin, along with Congolese diocesan priest Albert Joubert. Tragically, these missionaries fell victim to a turbulent period in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) history, in the early 1960s. The DRC was navigating a complex transition from colonialism to a new socio-political landscape, fraught with unrest that extended to the Church itself. Looting, persecution, and repeated indignities plagued the community, compelling many missionaries to depart. However, the Xaverians chose to stand faithful to their mission, accompanying the local people in their sufferings.
Frs. Carrara and Didoné, together with Brother Faccin were killed on November 28, 1964, in Baraka and Fizi, two locations in the DRC. The brutal incident unfolded when a military jeep halted at the Baraka Church, and amidst the chaos, Brother Faccin was commanded by a rebel leader to board the vehicle. His refusal led to a tragic outcome, as he was ruthlessly shot. Father Carrara, who was hearing confessions, emerged from the Church and, rather than complying with the assailants, knelt by his fallen brother. His unwavering solidarity cost him his life, becoming another victim of this senseless violence.
A few hours later, in Fizi, the same fate befell Fathers Didoné and Joubert. The rebel squadron arrived in Fizi and the leader knocked on the door of the mission, killing Father Didoné in cold blood when he came to the door, and shortly afterward doing the same to Abbé Joubert.
The desecration of the missionaries’ bodies and the subsequent public display of horror echoed the depths of this tragic event. However, amid this darkness, a glimmer of hope emerged – one of the militiamen who partook in this dreadful act later found redemption through conversion.
The proclamation of these new blessed is a testament to unwavering faith, resilience, and the ultimate sacrifice made by individuals dedicated to their mission. Their legacy transcends time and stands as an inspiration for all, a poignant reminder of the strength derived from faith in the face of adversity. We remember and celebrate them because even today we need their example and intercession to continue announcing and witnessing the love of Christ for all humanity.
Blessed Luigi Carrara, Giovanni Didoné, Vittorio Faccin and Albert Joubert, pray for us!
The Holy See’s recent declaration of the martyrdom of our Xaverian brothers Luigi Carrara left, Giovanni Didonè left, Vittorio Faccin left and diocesan priest Albert Joubert, assassinated in 1964 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is an event of profound significance for our missionary family and the universal Church. This recognition not only honors their ultimate sacrifice, but also illuminates the path of faith, hope, and unconditional love that they embodied.
The Context of Congo in 1964
The Congo of 1964 was a hotbed of political and social tensions. After its independence in 1960, the country plunged into chaos of power struggles and rebellions. In this context, Xaverian missionaries worked tirelessly to bring Christ’s message to local communities, often in extremely dangerous conditions. Their commitment to the mission and their love for the Congolese people were unwavering, even in the face of growing hostility and violence.
Luigi Carrara: A Courageous Heart
Luigi Carrara, born in 1933, was known for his courage and deep faith. As a missionary in Baraka, he devoted himself to the education and spiritual care of the community. His death, together with his brother Vittorio Faccin, testifies to his steadfastness in the faith and his refusal to abandon his mission, even in the darkest moments.
Giovanni Didonè: The Tireless Servant
Giovanni Didonè, born in 1930, distinguished himself for his tireless service and love for those most in need. Working at Fizi, he became a pillar of support and spiritual guidance for many. His martyrdom, along with diocesan priest Albert Joubert, is a reminder of the brutality they faced and their unwavering commitment to their vocation.
Vittorio Faccin: The Compassionate Brother
Vittorio Faccin, born in 1934, was known for his compassion and dedication to the sick and less fortunate. His work in Baraka was tragically cut short when he was assassinated by rebels, an act that reflects the intensity of the persecution the missionaries faced.
Albert Joubert: The Bridge Between Cultures
Albert Joubert, a diocesan priest, worked hand in hand with the Xaverian missionaries. His work in Fizi and his martyrdom together with Giovanni Didonè highlight his commitment to the mission and his courage in the face of adversity.
A Legacy of Faith and Sacrifice
The martyrdom of our brothers and sisters is an immense legacy that reminds us of the importance of faith and sacrifice in the life consecrated to the mission. Their example of courage, love, and dedication continue to inspire generations of missionaries and faithful around the world.
Their beatification is a source of joy and blessing for our missionary family. It reminds us that despite the difficulties and challenges, God’s work continues through those who are willing to give their all out of love for Him and His people.
Today, as we celebrate the recognition of these courageous martyrs of ours, we Xaverians renew our commitment to the mission and values they embodied. May their example guide and inspire us to live our mission with the same courage and unconditional love.