Friday, August 12, 2005

Blessed Isidore Bakanja

The Carmelite Order today honours this layman, a member of the Scapular Confraternity, martyred out of hatred for the faith. There are several short biographies of Blessed Isidore on the web. This one presents about as much as is known. The biographical "notice" in the breviary gives this summary:

Bl. Isidore Bakanja, a member of the Boangi tribe, was born in Bokendela (Congo) between 1880 and 1890. In order to survive, even as a boy, he had to work as bricklayer or in farms. He was converted to Christianity in 1906. He was working in a plantation run by a colonialist in Ikili and was forbidden by the owner to spread Christianity among his fellow-workers. On 22 April 1909, the superintendent of the business tore off the Carmelite Scapular, which Isidore was wearing as an expression of his Christian faith, and had him severely beaten even to drawing blood. He died on 15 August of the same year as a result of the wounds inflicted in "punishment" for his faith and which he bore patiently while forgiving his aggressor. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 24 April 1994.