Nigeria: Vivian Ogu, a Heroine in Death

11 November 2019

Adibe Emenyonu writes on the process of Beatification of a 14 year old virgin, Vivian Ogu to Sainthood by the Catholic Church for her exemplary show of courage by refusing to be raped by armed thieves who invaded their home in 2009 and was shot dead by the hoodlums

On the night of November 15, 2009, a group of armed robbers invaded the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ogu in Benin City, dragged their daughter, Vivian Ogu to a lonely spot to rape her, and she refused because she was a virgin. If only the robbers knew they would make her a heroine in death, they might have had a second thought.

Before her brutal death, Vivian Uchechi Ogu was in the preparatory class for the sacrament of confirmation, slated for 2010 in Benin City. She did not live to witness that sacrament.

Vivian was born in Benin City to parents who hail from Aboh Mbaise, in Imo State, Nigeria. Due to the exemplary and strong display of her faith, Vivian though dead was selected among those to be canonised preparatory for Sainthood.

Speaking at the Vivian Ogu Missionary Animation Centre in Benin City, the pilgrimage site named after the late 14-year old virgin, which also marks the end of the Extraordinary Mission month of October, 2019, the Director, Vivian Ogu Movement, Rev Fr. Stephen Dumbiri, while delivering the welcome address thanked the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin City, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze for consistently celebrating a memorial day for Miss Ogu on November 15 every year, which was inaugurated in 2014.

The Vivian Ogu Pilgrimage Centre was developed at the site the teenager was shot dead after she resisted being raped by the armed thieves who invaded her family home in Benin City in 2009.

Reverend Fr. Dumbiri disclosed that within this period, Pope Francis outlined four dimensions to the celebration, one of which is the celebration of the witnesses of selected missionary saints and martyrs (canonised or not)"

According to him, "the Holy See requested for proposals of the life of heroic individuals to be used for this purpose and the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin City presented the life of Vivian Ogu to the Holy See in response to this request.

"From the many proposals sent from all over the world, 25 saints and saint figures were chosen, out of that 25, we have two from Nigeria: Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi and Vivian Ogu. The implication of this selection by the Holy See is that together with the other saints and saint figures, Vivian Ogu is being celebrated all over the wold in this extra ordinary month of October, 2019."

Rev Fr. Dumbiri noted that the rare virtues of Vivian Ogu, her campaigns for purity and virginity and her martyrdom serve as a reference point in speaking against all forms of sexual immorality especially prostitution and homosexuality that is plaguing our modern society.

"In a country where our youths are becoming increasingly disinterested in religious matters, the life of Vivian Ogu would serve to propel them to participate in church activities and be dedicated to them and to prove to them that one can be very involved and active in religious matters and still maintain excellence in academics and social life.

"The courage of Vivian Ogu to embrace martyrdom at the face of armed men who threatening her faith, is a source of motivation to Christians in Nigeria today who suffer persecution and risk losing their life on account of their faith," Fr. Dumbiri added.

With this he stressed, two saint figures have emerged from Nigeria. Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi, the first saint figure from Nigeria, and that of 14 years old Vivian Ogu for beatification and canonisation. Tansi was beatified more than a decade ago by Pope John Paul II, who himself is now a saint of the Catholic Church.

According to the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria who is also the Archbishop of Benin, Most Rev. Dr. Augustine Obiora Akubeze, the process of Ogu's sainthood is already in motion.

The process beatification and canonisation of little Vivian was further boosted with the presence of the Pope's representative, the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, His Excellency, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, who presided over the ceremony and described late Vivian Ogu as a great Christian, adding that the essence of Christian mission is to stand for the gospel.

On his part, His Grace, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze, described late miss Vivian's death as heroic. He said Vivian preached purity of life which is a sign for all young people and adult to practice their faith, noting that was the reason behind her promotion by the church.

The Pope's representative was joined by other Catholic Bishops in Nigeria among whom is His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan at the extraordinary National Mission Congress for the purpose of reflecting on the Church's Missionary identity in Nigeria and proffer a way forward.

Speaking at the event, Edo State Governor, Mr.Godwin Obaseki, rejoined Christians to be courageous and always stand in the right way for the betterment of the society, so as to show to other persons that the only way out is the ways of the lord.

Obaseki who described late Vivian as a true Christan worthy of emulation, pointed out that "this event is in memory of the life of a young girl who at the age of 14 paid a supreme prize for her refusal to be raped by armed robbers who came to robbed her family on that faithful night.

"We were told that until her death she was an active advocate of advancing the work of God. For me, she was a fearless and courageous Christan faithful. I want to tell everyone present here today that we should not be afraid of evil doers who can kill the body, rather we should fear the almighty God who can kill both the body and the spirit.

"The message here for us, especially those present at the occasion is to crave for a better society. If only we can stand for what is right, Vivian Ogu lived a fulfilled life".

Obaseki also urged young girls to emulate the moral virtues exemplified by late Vivian Ogu, saying despite that she had transited from mortality to immortality, her exemplary life has endured as a model for the girl child.

"She remains an example of a fearless and courageous Christian. The idea of a better society can be achieved if we can stand for what is true and right," the governor reiterated.

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