Isidore Bakanja (1886-1909)
Isidore was a member of the Boangi tribe in what was in the then Belgian Congo.
He was introduced to Christianity by Trappist Monks and was baptised in May 1906. Although young he took his Faith very seriously.
He became an informal Catechist i.e., though not formally trained he tried to share his Faith with others as best as he could.
He ended up working as a domestic for a Belgian rubber plantation.
Many of the agents on these plantations were themselves atheists and hated the Missionaries who stood up for the rights of the local people protecting them from exploitation.
He attracted the anger and hatred of the agents because of his Christian Faith and the fact that he was teaching others to do the same.
He was brutally beaten in an extremely savage manner.
An inspector found him in a deplorable state of health with festering wounds unable to walk properly dragging himself with sticks.
Before he died, he forgave his murderer and received the sacraments with great Faith and said that he would pray for his aggressor.
After much suffering, he died on the 25th of August 1909.
Isidore is a reminder of the idealism of youth.
He remained faithful and committed to his Faith despite Huge challenges.
A reminder to us all to give living witness of Faith to our young people who in turn can and often do, witness to us all.