Undoubtedly, the best-known sainthood cause Pope Francis advanced in 2017 is that of Pope John Paul I, the “Smiling Pope” of 33 days. But not to be overlooked is the cause of an Italian nun murdered in hatred of the faith in Somalia, allegedly killed during the uproar within the Muslim world following a speech by Pope Benedict XVI.
Sister Leonella Sgorbati, a Consolata Missionary Sister, and her bodyguard, a Muslim named Mohamed Osman Mahamud, were shot on September 17, 2006, in Mogadishu. She was rushed to a hospital, but died soon after as a result to her wounds. She had spent her religious life working in Africa, mostly in Kenya.
“I forgive, I forgive, I forgive,” were her last words, whispered to Marzia Feurra, another sister of her congregation.
Pope Francis’s ruling, which took place on November 8 but was announced by the Vatican on November 9, declared her a martyr, meaning that it’s been recognized that she was murdered in odium fidei, in hatred of the faith.
In 2001, Sr Sgorbati spent a few months in the Somali capital because she wanted to open a nursing school in the hospital run by the organization SOS Children’s Village. She managed to open the school in 2002, and when the first students were ready, she took three to Kenya to help enroll them in a local university.