Last weekend saw the annual St Albans pilgrimage to mark the death of Britain’s first martyr Alban over 1700 years ago. Most people know that he stood up to the persecution of a priest, and his life was taken instead.

Persecution has continued since the beginning of humanity and is just as evident today often from fear of perceived threat due to differences in religion or politics.

Our priests of SS Alban & Stephen, in Beaconsfield Road are Missionaries of the Sacred Heart who serve in many countries including South Africa.

One of their parishioners in Limpopo, South Africa, Benedict Daswa (16 June 1946-2 February 1990) was murdered by non-Christian members of his village who believed a ‘witch’ was responsible for the thunder and lightning causing damage to their houses and crops. Benedict a family man and head teacher at the local primary school, spoke against this traditional belief and the witch-hunt that would follow. For this he was attacked by a mob, beaten with wooden clubs, stoned and as he lay dying had boiling water poured over him. The mob having been arrested were freed due to lack of evidence, but one member shared that Benedict prayed out loud to God as he was dying. Benedict was beatified by Pope Francis, on 13 September 2015.

Women seeking to improve their spoken and written English, of all faiths or none, are welcomed for English Conversation sessions, every Monday 1-3pm in term time, SS Alban & Stephen Hall.

Readers who submit articles must agree to our terms of use. The content is the sole responsibility of the contributor and is unmoderated. But we will react if anything that breaks the rules comes to our attention. If you wish to complain about this article, contact us here