In Brief

Campaign to make John Bradburne first English saint in almost 50 years

Supporters urge Vatican to open inquiry into the missionary’s ‘miracles’

A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to make a missionary and poet who helped care for lepers in Zimbabwe the first English saint in almost half a century.

Supporters of John Bradburne are trying to raise £20,000 to fund efforts aimed at persuading the Vatican to beatify the former leper colony warden. The money is to be used to pay for an inquiry into his life and two miracles that he is said to have performed.

According to reports, Bradburne “miraculously cured a man of his brain tumour, and blood was also inexplicably seen dripping from his coffin”, says The Daily Telegraph.

The son of an Anglican rector, Bradburne converted to Roman Catholicism in 1947. He initially hoped to become a monk but while travelling around the Middle East, in 1969, he visited a neglected leper colony in northeast Zimbabwe and decided to stay to help. He remained there for the rest of his life, says The Times.

In 1979, during the country’s bloody civil war, Bradburne was kidnapped by guerillas and and killed, at the age of 58.

His niece, Celia Brigstocke, is leading the campaign to beatify the missionary.

Brigstocke, secretary of the John Bradburne Memorial Society, told the Telegraph: “People relate to John - they like the story, it’s both sad, and also a very rewarding story. I think it’s an inspiration to people.”

If the Vatican were to agree to the request, Bradburne would be the first English saint since 1970, when Pope Paul VI canonised Catholic martyr Cuthbert Mayne and 39 of his English and Welsh companions who were executed for treason between 1535 and 1679.

The path to canonisation would have to be initiated by the Archbishop of Harare, the Most Rev Robert Ndlovu, who is thought to be supportive of the campaign.

A Vatican-appointed “postulator” would then look into Bradburne’s life story in order to ascertain the story behind his deeds and potentially build the case for his sainthood.

Professor David Crystal, a linguistics expert who has compiled and published many of Bradburne’s 6,000 poems, has donated £250 to the cause.

He told the Telegraph that efforts to beatify Bradburne had been held up by the fact that his canonisation would mean that Zimbabwe’s first saint was a white man.

“It is a sensitive issue out there. So it took a while for the groundswell of support for Bradburne to convince everybody that even though he was white, who cares - he was looking out for the lepers,” Crystal said.

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