Three days of jubilation in Kigali! (1/3)

Friday 18th to Sunday 20th September, 2015 were three days of celebration for the Emmanuel Community due to two exceptional events – the opening of the cause for the canonization of Cyprien Rugamba and Daphrose Mukasanga, founders of the Emmanuel Community in Rwanda and the Jubilee of 25 years of the existence of the Community in Rwanda!

First act: Opening of the Cause of Cyprien and Daphrose


Ouverture des causes de canonisation de Cyprien et Daphrose Rugamba

Many people came from the whole country to experience this event, the first of its kind in Rwanda. Emmanuel Community brothers and sisters from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also made the journey as well as a delegation from Belgium, Germany and France.

About 1.00pm, before the start of the ceremony, the sky showed its way of celebrating the event with a halo that surrounded the sun for more than 30 minutes. This quite rare natural phenomenon (see Wikipedia) was a wink from above. ‘Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ Many people then remembered the phenomena observed in the sky at Kibeho, the place of the apparitions of the Mother of the Word (1981 to 1989).

In the Cathedral, the atmosphere was one of happy expectation, each person recollected like our catechumens on the day of their baptism. A 2.00pm joyful praise rang through the Cathedral, followed by a long time of silent Adoration. At 3.00pm the Mass began, celebrated by in the Kinyarwanda language by Archbishop Thadée Ntihinyurwa of Kigali, in the presence of three other bishops from the dioceses of Byumba, Kibungo and Nyundo. About sixty priests also concelebrated. The Cathedral was packed with over 1,300 people attending. Many religious and lay people had also come. Among them, were Olivier Rugamba , the eldest son of Cyprien and Daphrose and two of Daphrose’s brothers and other family members.
Here are some excerpts from the homily of Bishop Thaddée:

“Jesus humbled himself in obedience as far as the cross and as a sign of His reward, God raised Him up to heaven. By His loving regard, Jesus himself re-assured us by saying, ‘I have conquered the world!’ (Jn 16:33). Jesus Christ commits us to this fight, to this battle (the meaning of ‘Rugamba’ in Kinyarwanda) – the battle of life, the struggle for holiness, the battle of light against the reign of darkness. Jesus began this rugamba (battle) and completed it with His death and resurrection. He thus asks us to follow in His steps by carrying our cross. ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me’. The struggle of Jesus Christ is characterized by the armour of light, for Jesus himself is light and truth. Unable to confront Him directly, the Devil attacks believers by temptations, through pride etc. By his Cross, Jesus defeated the Devil and thus took away our fear of him.

This fight was also won by an enormous, countless army of saints. We would like there to be Rwandans among them and that sign may be given us with respect to Cyprien Rugamba and Daphrose Mukansanga. We pray that God will grant such a grace to those who pray for it (as at this moment) so we that can count on these compatriots in order to imitate them in our turn. May God accept the prayers of all those gathered here and that the Church may tirelessly pursue the cause now being opened here. Amen! “

At the end of the Eucharist, the long awaited moment arrived – the official opening of the causes of Cyprien and Daphrose! This ceremony surprised many by its very solemn character! This was in fact to establish an authentic tribunal which would have seriously to assess the heroic lives of the persons put forward.

His words of introduction emphasized the exceptional and historic nature of this event because it is was in fact the first time a process of beatification of two of Rwanda’s countrymen had taken place. He also explained the role of the diocesan phase and made clear to those present that the final judgment on Daphrose and Cyprien will be given by the Pope himself. Subsequently the beatification may occur after the recognition of a confirmed miracle (and the canonization after a second miracle). The whole assembly then invoked the Holy Spirit with a hymn.

The Vice-Postulator, in the person of François-Xavier Ngarambe and his wife, Yvonne-Solange Kagoyire, the Heads of the Emmanuel Community in Rwanda, read short biographies of Cyprien and Daphrose at the ambo. Then, the postulator, Dr. Waldery Hilgeman, and vice postulators, Mr. François-Xavier Ngarambe and Brother Reginald D. Cruz (CFX) presented their letters of appointment. Laurent Landete, the Moderator of the Emmanuel Community, read the opening petition of the Causes for the Beatification and Canonization of the Servants of God, Cyprien Rugamba and Daphrose Mukansanga. Bishop Thaddée Ntihinyurwa then read the decree accepting the petition and the whole congregation applauded at length. Then all the participants in the process were sworn on the Bible to faithfully carry out their work and maintain secrecy:

  • Archbishop Thaddée Ntihinyurwa of Kigali.
  • Fr. Jean-Bosco Ntagungira, Episcopal Delegate;
  • Fr. Martin Uwamungu, Promoter of Justice;
  • Mrs. Edith Kayitesi, Solicitor;
  • Mrs. Donatila Mukeshimana, Assistant Solicitor;
    As well as :
  • Dr. Waldery Hilgeman, Postulator;
  • François-Xavier Ngarambe, Vice Postulator;
  • Brother Reginald D. Cruz CFX, Vice-Postulator.

It is interesting to note that during the diocesan phase of the trial the postulator of the cause will attempt to show that the life of the Servant of God illustrates his/her heroic virtues and that he/she enjoys a reputation of sanctity, while the Promoter of Justice (formerly known as Devil’s Advocate) ensures that one cannot prove otherwise. So it’s a long, precise and well-documented work that was starting that day (the Instruction Sanctorum Mater gives a complete explanation of the diocesan process).

The ceremony concluded with the singing of the Magnificat to a tune composed by Cyprian Rugamba. Cyprien and Daphrose were from now on Servants of God. Archbishop Thaddée Ntihinyurwa asked the crowd to pray with him the official prayer for the beatification of the Servants of God:

Holy Father,
We pray to you for the beatification of the Servants of God, Cyprien and Daphrose.
Let us always have, like them, an incessant zeal for Adoration, a heart burning with love for you and an active compassion for all who suffer. Help us to give of ourselves without counting the cost to the service of the evangelization of families and of the poor.
In communion with Cyprien and Daphrose, we entrust to you especially couples who experience marital difficulties and people who struggle to forgive their enemies and we ask you to make of us instruments of peace.
Through the intercession of the Servants of God, we dare to ask you, according to Your will, the grace of……………………………………………
Lord, grant us peace and the grace we ask You in faith. Amen.

A fine rain had in the mean-time irrigated the capital as a sign of future blessings. Here is a first small ‘fioretti’: at the end of the ceremony, a priest was accosted by a man who wanted to confess. He was taken to a small adjoining chapel. But in the end there were 50 men who came to confession! The blessings are just beginning. Deo Gratias!

Cyprien and Daphrose, pray for us!
If you receive graces attributable to the prayer of Cyprien and Daphrose, or if you have a testimony to give, write to:


Sylvaire Mucungura and Louis-Etienne de Labarthe

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