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Saint of the Day for 10 October: St Daniel Comboni

St Daniel Comboni: The Spiritual Legacy of a Missionary of Peace and Unity in Africa


Daniele Comboni




15 March 1831, Limone sul Garda


10 October 1881, Khartoum, Sudan


10 October


2004 edition


17 March 1996, Rome, Pope John Paul II


05 October 2003, Rome, Pope John Paul II


O God, who desire the salvation of all, awaken in every Christian a strong missionary zeal, that Christ may be proclaimed to those who have not yet known him. Stir up many vocations and support missionaries with your grace in the work of evangelisation. Grant to each one of us, through the intercession of Blessed Daniele Comboni, to feel a responsibility towards the missions and above all to understand that our first commitment to spreading the faith is to live a profoundly Christian life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Patron of


Roman Martyrology

In the city of Khar m in Sudan, Saint Daniele Comboni, a bishop, founded the Institute for African Missions and, having been appointed bishop in Africa, he spared no effort in preaching the Gospel in those regions and caring in every way for the dignity of human beings.


The Saint and Mission

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St Daniel Comboni, a luminary in the universe of the Christian mission, embodied a burning love for Africa and its people that transcended the boundaries of geography and culture. His life, irrevocably intertwined with missionary fervour, reveals itself not only as a geographical pilgrimage but as a spiritual journey that embraces diversity, humanity and the sacred in its purest and most authentic form.

Deep within the mission of Comboni and his companions, there is a clear understanding of the Gospel not only as a word to be proclaimed but as a reality to be lived, in the midst of the people, sharing their sufferings, joys, aspirations and struggles. Their presence in Africa was not an act of superficial charity or a simple attempt at conversion, but rather an expression of radical love that saw and honoured the sacredness in every individual, despite cultural or social disparities.

St Daniel was not content to preach from the top of a pulpit but chose to immerse himself in the living fabric of African communities, appreciating their cultural and spiritual richness and building bridges of dialogue and brotherhood. He recognised that mission was not simply a one-way street of imparting the faith, but a two-way journey where even the missionary is transformed, encountering the face of God in new and surprising ways.

In every village, in every community, Comboni and his companions sought to be witnesses of the Christ who served, who washed the feet of his disciples, who loved to the point of giving his life. They saw the mission as an opportunity for mutual enrichment and shared growth in faith and humanity.

Comboni’s missionary spirituality was infused with a love that did not compel but liberated, a love that did not impose but invited. His was a method of evangelisation that did not suffocate local cultures but instead sought to meet them and enrich them from within, discovering Christ already present in their myths, hopes and dreams.

He was convinced that the seed of the Gospel could germinate in the African soil in a unique and extraordinary way, and that the local churches could one day be shining lights of Christianity, bringing to the world a freshness and vitality that flowed from their specific experience of God and humanity. Comboni and his companions were not only givers, but also receivers, recognising that they too had much to learn and receive in this sacred exchange.

In the heart of Africa, St Daniel Comboni found fertile ground where the message of Christ could be rooted and flourish in unique and authentic ways. His life and mission remain a profound expression of a sacred encounter between cultures, a testimony to the power of Love that crosses borders and transforms hearts, inviting us to continually review and reinvent our understanding and practice of mission in the complexity of today’s world.

The Saint and Mercy

St Daniel Comboni, an emblematic figure of mercy through missionary work, dedicated his life to concretely expressing the gentleness and empathy of God’s love for those living in the existential peripheries of the world. His story, woven into the fabric of divine mercy, is expressed in a mission that becomes a mirror of compassion and deep understanding of human suffering.

The dialogue between St Daniel’s life and mercy unfolds through the paths of his missionary vocation, a journey that merges into a sincere and profound communion with the pain and hopes of African peoples. Africa, a land that struck Comboni’s heart indelibly, is revealed as the stage where God’s mercy dances sublimely, through the welcoming of the little ones, the sick, the forgotten.

St Daniel did not merely see or feel misery and suffering; he embraced it, making it his own, and in doing so, allowed the light of mercy to permeate the darkness of despair. His merciful love for the African people translated into an all-encompassing commitment that transcended purely humanitarian action, becoming a concrete symbol of God’s love, which tenderly caresses the wounds of humanity.

Comboni’s merciful heart was revealed not only in his material care for people’s bodies and lives, but also in his ardent desire to allow each individual to experience the dignity and love that flow from being recognised as sons and daughters of God. Her mission, therefore, unfolded like a river irrigating the barren lands of suffering and marginalisation, carrying with it the seeds of hope and rebirth.

Despite innumerable challenges and adversities, the merciful face of God never dimmed in Comboni’s eyes, but on the contrary, became ever brighter, especially in the darkness of difficult times. His faith did not waver in the face of obstacles and difficulties, for the certainty of God’s merciful love was the rock on which he built his missionary commitment every day.

Mercy, in the context of St Daniel Comboni’s life and mission, thus becomes a living message, an experience that is incarnated in history and that invites us to continually rediscover the beauty and transformative power of God’s love. It invites us to a mission that does not stop at geographical or cultural frontiers, but becomes the travelling companion of every man and woman, to bring back to them the image of the loving and merciful face of the Father.

In Comboni, mercy is not an abstraction, but a living and pulsating reality that runs through every gesture and word, inviting us to make ourselves instruments, today, of that same mercy that guided his every step on African soil. His life and mission remain a shining beacon that guides us to become, we too, credible witnesses of the mercy that saves and renews the world.

The Comboni Missionaries

The missionary charisma unfolds in many forms and nuances, reflecting the vastness of the missionary field and the wealth of vocations that animate it. One of the threads of this immense network is represented by the Combonians, those who have fervently embraced the missionary ideal of Saint Daniele Comboni.

St Daniel Comboni, a 19th century bishop and missionary from Verona, is a salient figure when it comes to mission and dedication to one’s neighbour. His work in Africa and his determination to open up new avenues of mission lit an unquenchable flame in the hearts of many. With a forward-looking intuition and a gaze deeply rooted in the reality and needs of people, Comboni did not limit himself to an evangelising mission in the narrow sense, but embraced a holistic vision of missionary work: safeguarding human dignity, promoting development, educating, healing and, of course, proclaiming the Gospel.

The Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, known simply as ‘Combonians’, are direct heirs of this vision. Their mission is not only an act of faith, but a concrete expression of a charity that becomes closeness, accompaniment and sharing. Africa, Comboni’s beloved land, is the main theatre of their activities, yet their field of action has extended far beyond the borders of this continent, reaching all those existential peripheries where the proclamation of the Gospel and the practice of charity find fertile ground for sowing seeds of hope.

The Combonian motto “Save Africa with Africa” is not only a banner under which to operate, but a manifesto of a modus operandi that sees in the African people not only the recipient of the mission, but the active protagonist of their own story of redemption and development. The Combonians become, therefore, fellow travellers of this people, collaborating in the construction of a story of redemption and resurrection from underdevelopment, wars, diseases and the thousand facets of poverty.

Combonians are men who have made the gift of self a vocation and their presence among the poorest and most marginalised a path to holiness. In the most desolate regions and in the hearts wounded by suffering and injustice, they bring the balm of comfort and mercy, building with the local populations works and institutions that are not just material structures, but visible manifestations of a Kingdom of justice and peace that germinates in the present.

The stories of holiness, martyrdom and total dedication to the mission that permeate Combonian history are a tangible sign of a radical choice of life, oriented towards the Cross and the Resurrection, where pain and death are daily realities, but also where hope and joy unleash their revolutionary power in a more authentic way.

The Combonian approach to mission does not end in welfarism, but in investing in people, in the formation of local communities, betting on the potential that each individual possesses and that can flourish if properly nurtured and cared for. It is a mission that grows from the bottom up, taking root in the cultural and social contexts in which it operates, taking shape as a fruitful dialogue in which evangelisation and inculturation feed off each other.

In this way, the Combonians, anchored in the figure of their founder and nourished by a deeply incarnated spirituality, continue along the path traced out by Saint Daniel Comboni, sustained by the certainty that the mission, today as yesterday, is an exciting adventure of humanity and faith, an indissoluble interweaving of mercy and proclamation, which finds in the daily routine of service and in the depth of prayer the inexhaustible source from which to draw the strength to continue, despite the hardships and challenges, in the furrow of a love that knows no boundaries.


After years of oblivion, in the 19th century African lands are travelled by explorers, merchants and commercial agents of the European powers. With them often travelled missionaries eager to bring the proclamation of Christ to the indigenous peoples.

St Daniel, who chose to become a missionary in Africa as a young man, was himself a tireless traveller in the Dark Continent. Ordained a priest in 1854, Daniel landed in Africa three years later.

His first missionary voyage soon ended in failure: inexperience, the adverse climate and the hostility of the slave traders forced him to…


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