Blessed Anuarite

AFRICAN SAINTS

1st December Feast of Blessed Anuarite Maria Clementine Nengapeta

She was not born into a Christian family, Anuarite (1939-1964) together with her mother and sisters recieved Baptism in 1943. She entered the convent of the Holy Family in Bafwabaka. There she took the name of Maria Clementine. After five years she took the religious vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.

Her martyrdom through the words of our Scholastic Edmon Dimonekene happened as follows:

In 1964, the Mulele rebellion broke out and after a few weeks it occupied most of the country. The Simba rebels opposed westerners, but also indigenous monks and nuns because they suspected them of being mixed with foreigners. On 29 November, 1964, they arrived at the Bafwabaka convent and loaded all 46 nuns onto a truck to take them to Wamba. The move was for security reasons, the nuns were told (:180). Instead, the truck changed direction and went to Isiro where the nuns were taken to Colonel Yuma Deo’s house.

That night, all the sisters except Anuarite where moved to a nearby house called “the blue house.” One of the Simba leaders, Colonel Ngalo, with the help of a soldier named Sibande, tried to convince Anuarite to be his wife. Fearful but defiant, she categorically and repeatedly refused, even after the furious soldiers isolated her and threatened her with death (:181). Mother Leontine who was her superior attempted to defend her, but in vain.

Meanwhile, the other nuns in the blue house refused to eat without the presence of their mother superior. Colonel Pierre Olombe brought along sisters Banakweni and Marie Lucie, to report the situation to Colonel Ngalo who asked for his help in seducing Anuarite. Sure of his success, Olombe accepted. At supper time, Anuarite shared a dish of rice and sardines with Mother Xaveria, but could not eat much. She told mother Xaveria that she was ready to die defending her virginity. Later that night, Colonel Olombe, with a group of Simbas, sent the nuns to bed, allowing them to sleep in one room as long as Anuarite remained behind. Worried and anxious, Anuarite asked the mother superior to pray for her.

Olombe again pressured her to yield to Ngalo’s request. Then, he changed his mind and decided he wanted Anuarite for himself. When she refused, he herled insults at her, but she remain defiant (:181).

Then, the colonel forced Anuarite and Sister Bokuma Jean Baptist whom he wanted for himself get into a car. Anuarite, followed by Sister Jean Baptist, attempted to escape while Olombe went to get the car keys in the house. Unfortunately, he caught them and a violent struggle arouse. Mother Leontine and Mother Melanie, who were witnessing the scene, implored the Colonel to have pity on the two nuns. But the Colonel was furious and silenced them.

Colonel Olombe, then, began to beat mercilessly the two nuns (:181). Sister Jean Baptist fainted, her right arm broken in three places, but Anuarite continued to resist courageously, saying she would rather die than commit that sin. Her words only heightened Olombe’s fury.

Between the blows, Anuarite had the strength to say: “I forgive you for you know not what you are doing.” In a new fit of rage, Olombe called some Simbas over and ordered them to stab Anuarite with their bayonets (Nkoy E. 1985:99). After they had done this several times, Olombe took his revolver and shot her in the chest. The Colonel, then, seemed to calm down and ordered the nuns to come and take away her body. Still breathing feebly, Anuarite lingered on for a few more minutes before dying at about one o’clock in the morning on December 1, 1964.

Anuarite was buried in a common grave along with other prisoners executed by the Simbas. Nevertheless, eight months later, her body was disintered and buried with all the honours in the cemetery near the Isiro cathedral. In 1999, she became the first Congolese woman to be canonized by the Catholic Church.

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