Daniel Comboni was an Italian Catholic bishop who served in the missions in Africa and was the founder of both the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus and the Comboni Missionary Sisters. Comboni studied under Nicola Mazza in Verona where he became a multi-linguist and in 1849 vowed to join the missions in the African continent although this did not occur until 1857 when he traveled to Sudan. He continued to travel back and forth from his assignment to his native land in order to found his congregations and attend to other matters, and returned in 1870 for the First Vatican Council in Rome until its premature closing due to conflict.
Comboni attempted to draw attention across Europe to the plight of the people living in poor-stricken areas in the African continent and from 1865 until mid-1865 traveled across Europe to places such as London and Paris to collect funds for a project he started to tend to the poor and ill. His mission to Africa was strengthened with his appointment as a bishop in 1877 for it allowed him greater freedom to establish branches of his order in Khartoum and Cairo amongst other locations.
Comboni was beatified in Saint Peter’s Basilica on 17 March 1996 and his canonization came on 5 October 2003.
One only idea was the guiding force in the life of Daniel Comboni and it gripped him totally body and soul; it gave sense to everything he did: his Mission and the evangelisation of Central Africa, a dream which in those days sounded like Utopia. But Comboni dedicated all his energy to the last breath which, in fact, he breathed out in the heart of Africa.
As a missionary Daniel Comboni felt he was a brother of the Africans, that they were all children of the one God and Father. However, the mission made him a father above all: father of the first African Churches in Central Africa and the two exclusively missionary Institutes that he founded. His charismatic figure still inflames the hearts of young people today and brings to birth new families for the service of the missionary Church.
The prophetic gift of Daniel Comboni can be understood from different but complementary perspectives:
by his word and works he showed the loving mercy of the God who, in Christ, saves all people.
Comboni was not just one of the pioneers of the mission to Central Africa of his time, his global vision of mission is relevant even today
In his body and spirit he was mystically nailed, like the Lord, to the cross; he fell into the soil of Africa like a grain of wheat. His martyrdom makes him a master of missionary spirituality.
The first love of my life was towards the unfortunate Africa and leaving behind all that was precious to my, I came to offer my services to lighten their burdens.