08/12/2022 – Blessed Isidore Bakanja

Today’s Blessed Isidore Bakanja died a martyr when he was 22 years old for his faith and especially for his love of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Bakanja accepted the Christian faith at eighteen years of age through the ministry of Cistercian missionaries in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as the “Congo Free State” Belgian Congo). He was a very devout convert and catechist. Bakanja had a great love for the Blessed Virgin Mary that he expressed through recitation of the Rosary and by being invested in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. His employers had ordered him to cease sharing the Gospel as well as remove the scapular that he wore as a witness to his faith. Isidore’s refusal to comply with the demands of his supervisor resulted in his being brutally beaten and chained.

As a result of the beating and persistent ill treatment he received, Bakanja’s wounds became severely infected. As his condition worsened his supervisor sought to keep him from the view of the plantation’s inspector. However, Bakanja was discovered and taken to the inspector’s home for treatment. His condition had deteriorated so severely, however, that no further medical attention could help him.

At this point Isidore told the inspector “tell them that I am dying because I am a Christian.” Missionaries in the area visited Isidore and urged him to forgive the supervisor. He assured them that he already had, declaring “When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him very much.”