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A life dedicated to others: Father Ambrosoli, doctor and missionary, will be beatified on 20 November

Father Giuseppe Ambrosoli, Combonian missionary and doctor, dedicated his life to Uganda, the country where his remains reside

Doctor and missionary, Fr Giuseppe Ambrosoli proclaimed blessed on 20 November

Originally from Como and belonging to the family of the honey company of the same name (his father was one of the founders), Fr Giuseppe Ambrosoli joined the Combonian missionaries at just 26 years of age, in 1949.

He was ordained a priest the same year by the Bishop of Milan, Giovanni Battista Montini, who would later become Pope Paul VI.

In 1956 he embarked for Africa, destination Kalongo, a village in northern Uganda.

It is the place of his apostolate and his mission as a doctor: there he will found a hospital that over the years will become large.

There he will train doctors and nurses, and cure thousands of people.

The locals will nickname him Ajwaka Madid, the ‘white witch doctor’. Everyone else will call him the ‘doctor of charity’.

His unreserved dedication became transparent at the most dramatic moment: on 13 February 1987, in the midst of the civil war that was scourging Northern Uganda, Father Joseph was forced by military order to evacuate the hospital in just 24 hours.

In that dramatic situation, his co-workers heard him say: ‘What God asks is never too much’.

After rescuing the medical staff and the sick in Lira, Father Joseph Ambrosoli also managed to save the midwifery school

But this effort irreparably undermined his already precarious health: on 27 March 1987, just 44 days after the evacuation of the hospital, he died of kidney failure, minutes before the helicopter sent from Kampala arrived to rescue him. He rests in Kalongo next to the hospital that bears his name.

Through her intercession, the miracle required for beatification was performed.

Lucia Lomokol, a 20-year-old Ugandan woman, was about to die of septicaemia on 25 October 2008, after losing the child she was carrying.

She had arrived at the hospital too late and so one of the doctors, seeing that no treatment was possible, placed the image of Father Joseph under her pillow, inviting her family to invoke the ‘great doctor’.

The woman recovered in a scientifically inexplicable way.

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SMA – Società Missioni Africane

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