Rwandan Family Inches Closer to Sainthood By Catholic Church

25 September 2021

The Catholic Church has concluded the report on beatification and canonization of the Cyprien Rugamba family as the blessed before eventually becoming saints.

The report was presented to the church on Thursday week during a mass that was held at Regina Pacis Catholic Church in Gasabo District, which was led by Cardinal Antoine Kambanda.

The cause for the canonization of this family that was killed during the Genocide against the Tutsi, was opened by the Catholic Church on October 2, 2015.

Canonization is an official and definitive statement from the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, recognizing a deceased person as holy. Canonization leads the worship of the saint on a universal scale, whereas beatification leads to the worship in the specific diocese they lived in.

Cyprien and Daphrose Rugamba were killed in the 1994 Genocide, with their six children and their niece.

The couple was known for their charitable works where in 1990 they started Emmanuel Community, and in 1992 they started a centre in Kigali to feed and educate street children called CECYDAR.

During the mass, Cardinal Kambanda, who is also the Archbishop of Kigali said: "the Rugamba family was a light in total darkness, it was a light of love in times of hatred and the family promoted unity and love."

"The couple has been an example to many other people, where they stuck together in hard times and chose unity," he said.

"We have witnesses and testimonies of people who knew them and it is through these testimonies and their undeniable good works in the community that we were able to compile the report. We would like the couple to be put in the category of the 'blessed' which comes before sainthood," he added.

The report will be delivered to the Vatican, the global seat of the church where fresh investigations will be conducted before the couple can be canonized.

Cyprien and Daphrose Rugamba are the first Rwandans to be chosen for canonization.

Who is Rugamba?

Cyprien Rugamba, one of Rwanda's most celebrated legends, was the leader of a musical group called 'Amasimbi n'Amakombe'.

He was known for songs such as 'Ubuhanga Buhanitse', 'Urungano', and 'Imenagitero' as well as other songs that are used today in the Rwandan Catholic Church.

He, alongside his wife Daphrose, was also among the 2018 Unity Award recipients, for playing a big role in fostering unity and fighting discriminatory behavior of the genocidal regime.

The couple established a movement named "Communauté de l'Emmanuel" aimed at fostering unity and peace among Rwandans.

Their initiative angered the former government consequently leading to their extermination together with their six children.

Rugamba's family, and some members of Amasimbi n' Amakombe, were killed by the former presidential guards on April 7, 1994.

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