Daniel Comboni, The Founder

Apostle, Father and  Prophet


One only idea was the guiding force in the life of Daniel Comboni and it gripped him totally body and soul; it gave sense to everything he did: his Mission and the evangelisation of Central Africa, a dream which in those days sounded like Utopia. But Comboni dedicated all his energy to the last breath which, in fact, he breathed out in the heart of Africa.



As a missionary Daniel Comboni felt he was a brother of the Africans, that they were all children of the one God and Father. However, the mission made him a father above all: father of the first African Churches in Central Africa and the two exclusively missionary Institutes that he founded. His charismatic figure still inflames the hearts of young people today and brings to birth new families for the service of the missionary Church.



The prophetic gift of Daniel Comboni can be understood from different but complementary perspectives:
  • Witness –
    by his word and works he showed the loving mercy of the God who, in Christ, saves all people
  • Precursor –
    Comboni was not just one of the pioneers of the mission to Central Africa of his time, his global vision of mission is relevant even today

  • Martyr –
    in his body and spirit he was mystically nailed, like the Lord, to the cross; he fell into the soil of Africa like a grain of wheat.
    His martyrdom makes him a master of missionary spirituality.


Daniel Comboni  born in Limone sul Garda (Italia).
  • 20/2/1843Enters the Institute founded by Don Nicola Mazza to “bring together and educate poor youth”.

  • 6/1/1849
    Vows in the presence of Don Mazza to consecrate himself to the mission of Central Africa for the whole of his life.

  • 31/12/1854
    Ordained a priest.

  • 10/9/1857                                                               
    Daniel Comboni’s first journey to Central Africa.

  • 15/1/1859
    The missionaries of Don Mazza decide to abandon the mission of the Holy Cross.
    Comboni, racked by fever, returns to Italy.

  • 12/1/1861
    Journey to Aden to ransom young African slaves whom he then takes to Verona to be educated.

  • 15/9/1864
    He conceives his Plan for the Regeneration of Africa while praying at the tomb of St. Peter in Rome.

  • 18/9/1864  
    Beatification of Margaret Mary Alacoque.
    He presents his Plan to the Prefect of Propaganda Fide. The following day he presents it to Pope Pious IX.
    December 1864
    Journeys for missionary animation to Turin, Lyons, Paris, Cologne and London to make his Plan known

  • 13/4/1866
    The Mazza Institute renounces its missionary commitment to Africa. Comboni decides to found his own missionary society.

  • 1/6/1867
    He founds in Verona the Missionary Institute for Africa as apart of the Organisation of the Good Shepherd, an international missionary association. 

  • 29/11/1867
    He leaves from Marseilles to Cairo with three Camillians, three Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition and 16 young African women. In Cairo he founds two institutes – one for men and one for women according to the outline drawn up in the Plan.

  • 7/7/1868
    He begins a missionary animation tour through France, Germany, Austria and Italy.

  • 23/5/1869
    He opens a third house in Cairo which is to be a school with African teachers.

  • 24/6/1870
    He prepares a document to present to the Council Fathers: “Postulatum pro Nigris Africae Centralis”. He sends it together with a circular letter signed by numerous Bishops and approved by Pope Pius IX.

  • 14/9/1871
    He speaks on the theme of “Africa or death” at the congress of German Catholics in Magonza.

  • 1/1/1872
    Comboni founds the Institute of the Pie Madri della Nigrizia in Verona.
    The same month he begins his missionary magazine, “The annals of the Good Shepherd”.

  • 26/5/1872
    He is nominated Pro-Vicar of Central Africa.

  • 1/6/1872
    Pope Pius IX entrusts the mission of Central Africa to Comboni.

  • 26/1/1873
    He leaves Cairo and reaches Khartoum and Kordofan. For the first time European Religious form part of the expedition. 

  • 11/5/1873
    Comboni’s programmatic homily in Khartoum.

  • 15/10/1876
    He goes to Verona to receive the vows at the professions of the first Pie Madri della Nigrizia.
  • 12/8/1877
    Episcopal Consecration of Mgr. Comboni as Vicar of Central Africa.
  • 15
    He leaves for Africa with a new missionary expedition: five priests, six brothers and five Pie Madri della Nigrizia.
  • April 1878
    He founds a Christian village in Malbes, where Christian families who were educated in the mission are settled.
  • 30/7/1881
    He leaves for Khartoum with the intention of presenting a plan to Rauf Pascià for the final defeat of slavery in the Nuban region.
  • 5/10/1881
    He is attacked by a violent fever and in a few days the life of the Apostle of Africa nears its end.
  • 10/10/1881
    He dies at 10 in the evening in Khartoum, surrounded by his missionaries.
    In 1885 the tomb of Comboni would be desecrated by the Mahdists.
  • 1927
    The diocesan cause for his beatification and canonisation is begun in Verona.
  • 6/1/1969
    Canonical recognition for a third Institute inspired by the spirituality of Comboni: The Secular Comboni Missionaries.
  • 17/3/1996
    Solemn Beatification of Daniel Comboni in the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.
  • 5/10/2003
    Blessed Daniel Comboni is canonised by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of St Peter in Rome