Murdered By Mugabe’s Thugs: Missionary Who Loved Outcast Lepers In Rhodesia May Be Canonised A Saint

If Bradburne does become a saint, it will be the extraordinary concluding chapter in a thoroughly extraordinary life

An excellent account of John Bradburne’s life. 10 minutes.

Editor: The article below is from the Daily Mail article by Harry Mount, ‘Missionary who cared for lepers in Rhodesia is set to become the first British saint in decades‘, with additional information, images and corrections for accuracy.

The first British saint since the 16th century? Ex-public schoolboy known as ‘God’s vagabond’ who fought in WW2 and cared for lepers in Zimbabwe before he was EXECUTED by Mugabe could finally be recognised

John Bradburne with one of the residents at the Mutemwa leper colony. Mutemwa means outcast in the local Shona language. Where others [their own families and villages] had rejected the 80 cruelly maimed lepers, Bradburne embraced them and made his home among them, eventually becoming the warden of the colony.
Leprosy, once common (the picture above was taken about 1908), it existed only in isolated pockets in a few remote and low-lying areas by 1970. Plans were in hand for its final eradication but were hindered by Marxist terrorists. Sadly, the leprosy victims were often shunned by their own villages and denied even basic care.

John Bradburne didn’t just look like Jesus, with his long hair, beard and simple, austere clothes. He also gave his life for others.

In September 1979, the English-born missionary, poet and warden of Mutemwa leper colony in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, was caught up in the country’s civil war, the Rhodesian Bush War.

His friends told him to flee the imminent arrival of the bloodthirsty ZANU-PF guerillas who thought he was an informer. But he insisted on remaining with the lepers.

When the guerillas Marxist terrorists came, they bound Bradburne’s hands, took him on a forced march and humiliated him. They made him dance and sing, got him to eat excrement and dangled [sexually] young women in front of him, before interrogating him and subjecting him to a rigged trial.

They offered him the chance to escape so long as he left the country and abandoned his beloved flock. He refused and, when he knelt down to pray, they shot the 58-year-old in the back with a Kalashnikov, leaving him half-naked by the side of the road.

The men later reported that at that moment they heard beautiful singing. Fearing it was nearby villagers, they fled, leaving the dead man’s body, although their intention was to bury it where no one would find it.
The murderers came back later in the evening. At first there was silence. Then, as they neared the body, the singing began again, louder and seemingly closer than before. Again they fled.
Later they returned a final time. This time three lights surrounded Bradburne’s corpse and ascended into the night sky—one red, another white, the last blue—and as the three rose, they fused into one.
Now thoroughly frightened, the panic-stricken murderers fled from the scene, leaving locals to find the victim’s body after sunrise.

He was buried in a Franciscan habit, as he had requested, in a cemetery 11 miles outside the capital city, Salisbury, now Harare.

The 58-year-old was killed during missionary work in Rhodesia, in 1979.

Start of the Cause of Canonisation, 15 July 2019

And now, nearly 40 years after his brutal murder, Bradburne is on the verge of becoming a saint — the first British saint since 1970, when Pope Paul VI canonised Cuthbert Mayne and 39 British companions (‘The 40 Martyrs of England and Wales’), who were executed for treason between 1535 and 1679, and the Scottish Catholic martyr John Ogilvie, canonised in 1976.

Campaigners, including Bradburne’s niece Celia Brigstocke, are convinced of his power to perform miracles. Mourners at his funeral said they saw drops of blood beneath his coffin, even though no blood was found inside when it was opened. Others claim that, a decade ago, a man was cured of a brain tumour by praying to Bradburne.

And now, with the support of the Archbishop of Harare, the Most Rev Robert Ndlovu, they have raised the money to fund a Vatican investigation to justify his canonisation.

If Bradburne does become a saint, it will be the extraordinary concluding chapter in a thoroughly extraordinary life — one which started in a very conventional way.

Born in Westmorland in 1921, he was the son of an Anglican rector and, by coincidence, a relation of Lord Soames, last Governor of Southern Rhodesia, who oversaw the independence creation of Zimbabwe, a Communist Chinese colony, in 1980, soon after Bradburne’s death.

Military Cross

After private school — Gresham’s in Norfolk — he fought in World War II with the 9th Gurkha Rifles, heroically escaping Singapore when it was invaded by the Japanese in 1942.

Bradburne was recommended for the Military Cross for his escape. He had taken refuge in the jungle up country, living off the land. He took a boat to try to reach British-controlled territory, only to be shipwrecked.

He eventually made it to India, and then returned to fight in Burma for the Chindits, British Army raiding groups, with whom he flew into the jungle, deep behind enemy lines, in a glider.

Bradburne had a religious experience in Malaya, and his faith became the dominant impulse in his life. When he returned to England after the war, he stayed with the Benedictines of Buckfast Abbey, where he became a Roman Catholic in 1947. He wanted to be a Benedictine monk but the Order could not accept him because he had not been in the Church for two years. After a while, he felt a strong urge to travel.

After the war, in 1947, he converted to Catholicism, with aspirations of becoming a monk. But with no monastery prepared to accept him immediately, he opted to travel instead and wandered the world for 16 years, trying his hand at teaching and forestry, and toiling as a stoker on a steam ship. His only worldly belonging was a single Gladstone bag.

On trips home, Bradburne stayed with Carthusian monks in England, and with other religious orders in Israel and Belgium. At one stage, he walked hundreds of miles to Rome and lived for a year in the organ loft of a church in an Italian mountain village.

He slept in the oddest of places: tin huts; attics; even, at one point, a hen run. He lived as a hermit on Dartmoor, sang in the choir of Westminster Cathedral and became caretaker of a cardinal’s Hertfordshire country house for three years. In 1956, he joined the Franciscan Order as a layman.

And, throughout this period, he wrote poems — 6,000 in fact, which won him the record for the most prolific poet in the English language in the 2014 Guinness World Records. His poems concentrate on the power of love.

One in particular hauntingly anticipates his wicked, violent murder:

‘We want to make it very clear

And easy for you all.

The casting out, by Love, of fear

Is Terrorism’s fall.’

In this video you will hear the man himself, John Bradburne, reading his poem “Mutewma” and you will see images of John and his friends past and present.

Bradburne’s restless life — his biography by Didier Rance is aptly subtitled The Vagabond Of God — finally took root in Rhodesia. There, in 1969, he found his calling in the rundown leper colony of Mutemwa.

Bradburne had asked a Gurkha comrade John Dove if he knew of any African caves where he might pray. Dove took him to the Mutemwa leper colony at Mutoko, 90 miles east of Salisbury.

Campaigners, with the support of the Archbishop of Harare, the Most Rev Robert Ndlovu, they have raised the money to fund a Vatican investigation to justify his canonisation

Where others had rejected the 80 cruelly maimed lepers, Bradburne embraced them and made his home among them, eventually becoming the warden of the colony. Before he arrived, [these] lepers were treated as outcasts [by their own people], forced to wear bags on their heads to hide their disfigurement whenever an able-bodied visitor arrived.

Mutemwa leper colony.

In contrast, Bradburne prayed with them, drank with them and slept alongside them. He bathed their wounds, cut their nails, shooed away the rats that hounded the colony and, when they died, buried them with dignity.

He built them a small church, and wrote each leper a poem. With his fine voice and classical education, he even taught them to sing Gregorian plainchant in Latin.

Even today, the colony plays his music, beaten out on drums by lepers with no hands. And every year, tens of thousands of people turn up at the colony for Bradburne’s memorial mass.

Every day, his routine was the same. He was up at 03:00 to bathe the leprosy patients; they were fed at 07:00. Then he would help carry them to a church service, before taking a five km (three mile) run. Now, each year some 25,000 pilgrims make the journey to Mutemwa Leprosy Settlement, which he refused to abandon in spite of the dangers to his life, to pray for his intercession.

In 2009, on the 30th anniversary of his death, a mass commemorating Bradburne was held at Westminster Cathedral.

But in 1973, his actions were not so warmly received. The Leprosy Association, which ran the colony, took against Bradburne’s caring approach. They preferred to refer to the lepers by number rather than name, and thought Bradburne’s decent food provisions for them were too generous. [Ed. In reality, Bradburne was dismissed from his official position for “being careless with supplies and not keeping proper books”, but why let an opportunity to slander Rhodesia go by? Furthermore, it was not the Shona villages helping to supply the lepers, it was the minority white taxpayer].

When the association kicked him out, he only moved as far as a nearby tin hut, just outside the colony’s wire fence, with no water or electricity, and continued to tend to the lepers. [Ed. In fact, the Leprosy Association being maligned in this article recognized him as the official Chaplin for the colony and continued to aid the colony even at the height of the Marxist terrorist war.]

Here he lived for six years, denying himself everything except food, water and prayer.

Here he lived for six years, denying himself everything except food, water and prayer. Wise churchmen, who appreciated Bradburne’s qualities, insisted that he should bring the Eucharist to the lepers; and so the association was forced to admit him, albeit only for brief visits, into the colony.

It was a simple life, of an ancient, Biblical quality. Bradburne described how delighted he was on the day a swarm of bees arrived at the colony; how distraught he was when a tame eagle died.

And then, just as Bradburne had found his ultimate meaning in life and his permanent home, the Rhodesian Bush War took it away. The war raged from 1964 until December 1979 — ending just three months after his murder.

There were three forces* at war: Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government; Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union [ZANU]; and Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union [ZAPU]. And while the civil war ended white minority rule in Zimbabwe Rhodesia, Bradburne was one of the victims.

*Rhodesia was openly invaded by non-African Communist nations using black proxy armies at the height of the Cold war and Vietnam war. Voting rights in Rhodesia were never race based and suited a progressively developing nation and a rapidly growing middle class. The CCP colony, known as progressively devolving Zimbabwe, has never had a free and fair election.

A holy man tending to the sick in a remote corner of the country should have been immune from this conflict. But, in the chaos, the madness and malice of civil a Marxist terrorist war, he was considered somehow suspect — and his fate was sealed.

Ed. John was held for three days by the Marxist terrorists and treated brutally before being executed.

Before he died, Bradburne said that he had only three wishes — to help lepers, to die a martyr and to be buried in a habit of the Franciscan Order. He achieved all three.

Now it seems that, in time, this exceptional Englishman will also become a saint. 

Dedicated to John Bradburne

Editor: Sadly Rhodesia was not permitted to completely eradicate leprosy among many other illnesses she was eliminating through investment, progress and unprecedented development in Central Africa. So, fifty years later, the Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre continues to be a vital necessity. It is run under the care of the Franciscan order, the St Francis Leprosy Guild. Mutemwa is home to over 50 elderly residents, people affected by leprosy, leprosy disability and who are still outcasts from their villages and communities. Mutemwa sees around one thousand outpatients per year and supports others who are homeless and destitute.

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4 Responses

  1. Linde says:

    Glad to see the Editor has provided some assistance to the Guest in terms of truth in history. The people have recognized a saint in the Franciscan Friar, John Bradburne and appreciation of his life, his mission, poetry and martyrdom will only increase throughout the world.

    And in that appreciation, the facts about Rhodesia and the Communist war against the villages of the Tribal Trust Lands in Rhodesia’s Hurricane Sector are important.

    When writings began to be published in my Catholic Diocese about John Bradburne I was appalled at how no effort was spared to sanitize the Communist Gooks.

    The Zimbabwean dysinfo has been busy.

    I have read too many articles about Bradburne where his murderers are “Rhodesian guerrillas” and the “bad guys” are the Rhodesian Leprosy Association which fired Bradburn as warden of Mutemwa. The lepers of Mutemwa are depicted as outcasts of Rhodesia, victims of ‘white minority rule’ who were befriended by the Franciscan missionaries and the Zimbabwean liberators.

    The Rhodesian effort to establish the correct historical setting is appreciated. Communists have no use for lepers and the ZANLA Gooks used Mashona neighbouring villagers and mujibhas under their subversion as informers on the Mutemwa community. From Bradburne’s letters, we know it was not uncommon for some of them to routinely help themselves to the meagre supplies of Mutemwa, supplies sent out to them by the Rhodesian Leprosy Association, the churches and the Rhodesian benefactors. Bradburne stood up to the mujibhas over stealing in the leper colony. And he stood up to the Rhodesian Leprosy Association for more supplies. He was not a kumbaya Catholic. He is a saint of the corporal works of mercy. It does not surprise me one bit that miracles are occurring through his mission.

    His cause will come before the current anti-pope Francis, a Jesuit who belongs to the Marxist school of liberation theology. There was not a penny’s worth of difference between the Mary Knolls in Rhodesia and the Mary Knolls in Argentina where anti-Pope ‘call me Jorge’ Francis was the provincial for years.

    • WakeyWakey says:

      Agreed Linde. We are worldwide in spiritual warfare. The money power created, funded, and supported and promoted world Marxism (4th ComIntern) has long had its sights on the destruction of true Christianity ifo Marxist liberation theology.

      Very sadly, even the harmless, prayerful Carmelite Sisters in the U.S. are being purposely destroyed by masonic Jesuit infiltrator anti-pope Francis. No matter what Christian religion one is, this should sound the alarm. Thank goodness St Theresa of Avila is not here to see this:

      “Exclusive: I’m Not Suicidal States Hermit Priest of Fairfield Speaking Up on Behalf of the Carmelite Sisters’ Persecution by the Vatican”

      In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews Correspondent Jim Hale, Father Maximilian Mary Dean, tells the story of the Vatican plot to destroy the Carmelite Sisters of Fairfield, PA and all traditional orders.
      To support the Sisters of the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph:

      • Linde says:

        Thank you so much Wakey Wakey for information on the Fairfield Carmelites. I think this community is setting up an extension in Australia so the Communist tyranny will come to them on two fronts. The Australians can help them here.

        For those who may not be aware, the Fairfield Carmelites have the traditional, canonized Roman Rite of the mass – which anti-Pope Francis is determined to stamp out on behalf of his Jewish masters. ( He covers the cross and bows to the Jews. I think this should tell us everything we need to know. ) So now he is going after the traditional Carmelites with this demented plan. Like the old woman who swallowed a horse. He should remember what happened when the Revolution in its beginnings, in France, sent the Carmelite community to the guillotine. How did that work out for them?

  2. Katherine Ann Sparkes says:

    The murders of this missionary would have been struck down by God for their cardinal sin.

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