When Daniel Comboni was beatified in 1966, nobody would have imagined that he would be canonised after just seven and a half years. That date has set in motion a new impulse in the process of Evangelization of the Church, especially in the Church in Africa. Catholic communities all over the world, men and women who share their faith with Comboni Missionaries, men and women, are once more rejoicing. The miraculous cure of a Sudanese woman in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, made it almost obvious to the Church that this was a miracle through the intercession of Blessed Daniel Comboni, in the very city where he had died and of which he was the first bishop, as Vicar Apostolic of Central Africa (see p. ).
When Daniel Comboni died on 10th October 1881 at the age of 50, the missionaries reacted quickly and with determination to continue the work that he had founded and to follow his example. Fr. Bonomi (1881) wrote from Delen in Sudan to Fr. Sembianti in Verona: "With the graces the Lord is giving us, we are totally determined to continue this holy work with all our energies; wherever we are not worthy to produce great results, we will be ready to suffer for Jesus Christ and his glory."
This is one of the many resolutions that the men and women missionaries of Daniel Comboni formulated when they received the news of his death. There was not doubt of their firm determination to continue what Comboni had started.
Although the originality of the mission of Central Africa was not exclusively Comboni's idea -- and indeed, missionaries had gone there before him -- the 'vision' and the drawing up of the Plan for the Regeneration of Africa was Comboni's. The work of Comboni continued through the specific will of his men and women missionaries, and because it was God's work. None of them proposed to abandon the mission when Comboni died. On the contrary, they not only remained, but a group of them suffered the humiliations of captivity in the hands of the leader of an Islamic revolution, the Mahdi (see p. ).
The mission of Central Africa was the missionary and charismatic vocation of Comboni, and it was in the mission that the founding charism was kept alive.
While in Verona new men and women missionaries were being trained, in Egypt the pastoral work of integral evangelization of the small Catholic communities of redeemed slaves continued; through their sufferings, the missionaries in the hands of the Mahdi completed this paschal sacrifice of the death and resurrection of the Mission of Central Africa.
The Acts of the Apostles remind us that: “They were given many lashes and then thrown into prison, and the gaoler was told to keep a close watch on them... Towards midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing God's praises, while the other prisoners listened" ( Acts.16:23-25).
It was in this context of imprisonment and suffering that the evangelising movement of the first Christian communities began, and it was equally in this hostile environment that there arose a community of missionaries who evangelised Central Africa with the Easter spirit of a Daniel Comboni who was ready to give a thousand lives so that salvation would reach all Africans: "I have only one life to consecrate to the salvation of these souls: I wish I had a thousand to spend them all to such a purpose" ( S. 2271). All the Comboni Missionaries have selected this statement of Daniel Comboni as the motto that will accompany his Canonisation: "A thousand Lives for the Mission". A symbolic language to state clearly that Comboni lived his vocation as a call from Christ to the Missions of Central Africa.
The grateful remembrance of Daniel Comboni has reached as far as our days, in which his heirs, men and women of the Church, recognize in him the origin of a vocation, within the church, for mission. This Dossier is intended to be an expression of gratitude of the whole Comboni Family towards the one who, although he lived only 50 years, was ready "to give a thousand lives for the Mission.