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Remembering Sister Leonella
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Sister Leonella: Paying last respects

To borrow a phrase from Rush Limbaugh, the “drive-by media” gave a few hours’ attention to the victims of jihadists’ Pope Rage last weekend and then quickly moved on to the next headline.

I think the murder of Sister Leonella deserves a few more seconds of your time. The latest on her case:

Three people have been arrested in connection with the murder of Italian Consolata missionary Sister Leonella Sgorbati Sept. 17.

The announcement was made by Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siad, security representative of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which since June 4 controls Mogadishu and a large part of Somalia.

The remains of Sister Sgorbati, 65, were interred on Sept. 21 at Nazareth Hospital cemetery in Kiambu, Kenya, where she once worked as a nurse.

“We have three men in custody; one is a suspect in the killing and two are being held as witnesses”, stated Siad Sept. 21, according to the missionary news agency MISNA.

Security forces of the courts are on the tracks “of a second gunman suspected of involvement in the killing,” the UIC official said.

Eyewitness accounts indicate that two gunmen opened fire on Sister Sgorbati and her guard Mohammed Mahmud as they crossed the road between the pediatrics hospital and the SOS Village for children in Mogadishu.

Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to Sister Leonella:

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus announced to his disciples for the second time his passion, death and resurrection (cf. Mark 9:30-31). The Evangelist Mark highlights the strong contrast between His mentality and that of the Twelve Apostles, who not only didn’t understand the words of the Master and clearly rejected the idea that he was going to meet death (cf. Mark 8:32), but also disputed over who among them was to be considered “the greatest” (cf. Mark 9:34). Jesus patiently explains to them his logic, the logic of love that involves service up to the gift of self: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

This is the logic of Christianity, which responds to the truth of man created in the image of God, but at the same time it contrasts with his egoism, a consequence of original sin. Every human person is attracted by love — which ultimately is God himself — but often [the person] errs in the concrete ways of loving, and thus from a tendency that is at its origin positive, though tainted by sin, can be derived evil intentions and actions.

Also recalled, in today’s liturgy, is the Letter of St. James: “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.” The apostle concludes: “A fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace” (3:16-18).


This word brings to mind the witness of so many Christians who, with humility and in silence, spend their life at the service of others for the sake of the Lord Jesus, working concretely as servants of love and therefore “artisans” of peace. Some are asked to give the supreme testimony of blood, as happened a few days ago to the Italian religious, Sister Leonella Sgorbati, who fell victim to violence. This nun, who for many years served the poor and the children in Somalia, died pronouncing the word “pardon”: This is the most authentic Christian witness, a peaceful sign of contradiction which shows the victory of love over hate and evil.

Consolata Sisters in Michigan also remembered the fallen nun:

Before she died this week in Somalia, Sister Leonella Sgorbati forgave her attackers, exhibiting the deep faith that binds members of the Consolata Missionary Sisters.

Her final act, 42 years after joining the Catholic religious order, may be the most telling of Sgorbati’s strength and compassion, according to nuns who now live in West Michigan and worked with the 65-year-old sister.

“There are some people you will never forget in life, and Sister Leonella was one of them,” said Sister Mercedes Verjan, who is part of the Consolata order that has a convent near Belmont. “Her sense of integrity, enthusiasm, courage and desire left a definite imprint on me. I admire her even more for forgiving the ones who killed her.”

She will not be forgotten.



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(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Oriana Fallaci