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.
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 Burundian Church, 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, Father Ottorino Maule, 53, and Father Aldo Marchiol, 65; lay volunteer Catina Gubert, 74; local priest, Father Michael Kayoya, 38; and the seminarians.
The Italian missionaries and Gubert were killed on September 30, 1995, at Buyengero parish.