· Vatican City ·

Speaking of African saints, both female and male.

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24 October 2020

Paolo VI

“In greeting Africa, we cannot help but recall its ancient Christian glories. Let us think of the Christian Churches of Africa, the origin of which dates back to apostolic times and is linked, according to tradition, to the name and teaching of the Evangelist Mark. Let us think of the innumerable host of saints, martyrs, confessors, virgins, who belong to them. In reality, from the second to the fourth century, Christian life in the northern regions of Africa was very intense and in the vanguard of both theological study and literary expression.

The names of the great doctors and writers come to mind, men like Origen, Saint Athanasius, and Saint Cyril, leaders of the Alexandrian school. Tertullian, Saint Cyprian and above all Saint Augustine, one of the most brilliant lights of the Christian world, the great Saints of the desert, Paul, Anthony, and Pachomius, the first founders of monastic life, which later spread through their example to both the East and the West. These noble examples, as also the saintly African Popes, Victor I, Melchiades and Gelasius I, belong to the common heritage of the Church, and the Christian writers of Africa remain today a fundamental source for deepening our knowledge of the history of salvation in the light of the Word of God.

Africæ terrarum, n. 3 (1967)

John Paul II

“The Church in Africa must provide for the writing of her own Martyrology, adding to the magnificent figures of the early centuries [...] the martyrs and saints of recent times”.

Synod of Bishops for Africa, (1994)

“During these first centuries of the Church in Africa, certain women also bore their own witness to Christ. Among them Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, Saint Monica and Saint Thecla are particularly deserving of mention”.

Ecclesia in Africa, n. 31 (1995)

“The list of Saints that Africa gives to the Church, the list that is its greatest title of honor, continues to grow. How could we fail to mention, among the most recent, Blessed Clementine Anwarite, Virgin and Martyr of Zaire, whom I beatified on African soil in 1985, Blessed Victoria Rasoamanarivo of Madagascar, and Blessed Josephine Bakhita (in the photo, her image in St. Peter’s on the day of the beatification), of the Sudan, also beatified during my Pontificate? And how can we not recall Blessed Isidore Bakanja, Martyr of Zaire?” (Ibidem, n. 34)

Benedict XVI

 “I encourage the Pastors of the local Churches to recognize among servants of the Gospel in Africa those who could be canonized according to the norms of the Church, not only in order to increase the number of African saints, but also to obtain new intercessors in heaven to accompany the Church on her pilgrim journey and to plead before God for the African continent. I entrust to Our Lady of Africa and to the saints of this beloved continent the Church that dwells there”.

Africæ Munus, n. 114 (2011)