On September 7, at around 4:10 p.m., after the meeting with the bishops of Madagascar in the Cathedral of Andohalo, Pope Francis has made a visit to the Tomb of Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo.
On leaving the cathedral of Andohalo, the Pope greeted three religious leaders, from the Anglican, Lutheran, and Protestant churches and was photographed with some faithful and received a key to the city from those responsible for the city of Antananarivo, to whom he has given some rosaries.
The tomb of this blessed is located in front of the cathedral inside a circular chapel. The chapel contains a simple stone altar and a crucifix to allow prayer and the gathering of the faithful.
Once inside the chapel, the Holy Father stopped to perform a silent prayer and then blessed an image of the Blessed.
Beata Victoire Rasoamanarivo
Born in Antananarivo in 1848, in one of the most powerful families in the country, Victoire was educated according to the indigenous beliefs of her ancestors. However, in 1861, when some French Jesuit missionaries arrived in Mozambique, the young woman enrolled in the mission school and in 1863 received Baptism.
She was given in marriage to a high-ranking, violent and libertine army officer, despite which, she did not question the sacrament of marriage, remaining beside her husband, who finally agreed to be baptized.
In 1883, after the Franco-Malagasy conflict, Catholic missionaries were expelled and the faithful accused of treason. Victoria, however, continued to profess her faith. Persevering in prayer, she was responsible for supporting the “Catholic Union,” Marian spirituality movement.
In 1886, the missionaries returned to the country and Victoire dedicated herself to numerous charities in favor of the homeless and leprosy sufferers. In 1890, her health began to suffer and she died on August 21, 1894, at the age of 46.
Beatified by John Paul II
On April 30, 1989, in Antananarivo, John Paul II proclaimed her as the first native Malagasy Blessed. At first, Victoire’s body was placed in the Mausoleum of Rainiharo, Madagascar’s prime minister who died in 1852.
In 1961, her remains were moved to the Church of the Missionaries of Ambohipo and, finally, in 1992, they were transported in the current chapel that Pope Francis has visited.
This morning, in the speech to the president and the authorities of Madagascar, he referred to the figure of this blessed: “As a Church we want to imitate the attitude of dialogue of your fellow citizen, Blessed Victoria Rasoamanarivo, which John Paul II beatified during his visit, thirty years ago. Hes testimony of love to hes land and traditions, the service to the poorest as a sign of his faith in Jesus Christ, shows us the way we are also called to go.”