XIX General Chapter of the Comboni Missionaries
of the Birth of St Daniel Comboni
KEEPING THE FLAME ALIVE
Introduction. As we celebrate the 190th anniversary of the birth of Daniel Comboni (Limone Sul Garda, 15 March 1831) and the 140th anniversary of his death (Khartoum, 10 October 1881), we are invited to celebrate our charismatic memorial and to invoke the presence of the Spirit which illumined his life from birth to death. His beatification (17 March 1996), whose 25th anniversary recurs this year, was a charismatic gift for the entire Comboni Family. On that occasion,(1), the General Councils published a message together with a letter to encourage the members of our missionary family to be joyful and to gaze in spiritual manner at our father, seeking inspiration and fruitfulness for our missionary service. Finally, with the canonisation, the Church enrolled him in the register of saints, recognising the validity and relevance of the Comboni Missionary charism and proposing St Daniel Comboni as a model of Christian life and mission, the example and paradigm of universal missionary commitment, which unites different continents and people in the passion for God and Humanity.
The Comboni Missionaries now have their own identifying crucifix
The cross, made of olive wood, 6cm long and with a metallic figure of Christ, shows the following elements:
- An African Christ which refers to the missionary passion of Comboni for the people of Africa for whom he gave his life. His unconditional love for that continent finds its origin and model in the Good Shepherd who lays downs his life for all humanity, open his arms wide on the cross.
- A heart: where the vertical and horizontal arms join, representing the divine and human dimensions, there is a pierced heart. It represents our consecration as Comboni Missionaries and also, our hearts joined to the Heart of Christ that beats for all humanity.
- Wood of the olive tree which reminds us of the Garden of Olives and also Limone sul Garda, from where our Founder came. It is a simple and noble material that allows us to see the grain that gives each cross its unique identity. For Comboni the Cross is a theological category connected to the unfolding of missionary action: “the works of God are born and grow at the foot of the cross”.
- MCCJ: on the back of the cross are inscribed the initials of our Institute’s name, a symbol of our desire to be bound to Christen crucified and risen. It is the name by which we are known in the Church and that which unites us to all the Comboni Missionaries scattered throughout the world (cf. Letter on the new name of the Congregation, 1979).
- World outline: on the back, at the bottom of the cross is a profile of the world. The mission becomes concrete in the peoples and cultures where we live the Gospel in the hope that the Kingdom may flourish in signs of justice, peace, reconciliation and care for our common home – life in its fullness.
Bearing in mind that this is part of the identity of the Institute, we ask that the following rules be respected:
- The cross is a sign of the identity of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, exclusively for members of the Institute
- The cross may not be given or distributed to non-members of the institute
- Comboni Missionaries are free to wear it
- The cross is to be presented to novices at their first profession