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Cardinal Laurean Rugambwa

Photo added by Eman Bonnici

Cardinal Laurean Rugambwa

  • Birth 12 Jul 1912 Mwanza, Tanzania
  • Death 8 Dec 1997 Dar-es-Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • Burial Bukoba, Kagera, Tanzania
  • Memorial ID 88295422

Roman Catholic Cardinal. The first African member of the Sacred College of Cardinals in history, Laurean Rugambwa was born in Bukongo in the then Tanganyika, presently Tanzania, to an aristocratic pagan family from the Nsiba tribe, his father descending from the clan that gave chiefs to the named tribe. When Laurean was seven years of age, his father converted to Christianity followed soon after by his wife. Their son started studying catechism at the Kagondo mission of the White Fathers when he was eight and was baptized on March 19, 1921, taking the name Laurean. His surname means "future celebrity" and if he did become chief, he could permit himself the luxury of three or four wives. Completing his primary education at the mission of Rutabo, where he learned to read and write his native dialect besides English, Latin, Italian and Swahili, he entered the Regional Grand Seminary of Katigondo, Uganda, again under the care of the White Fathers. Ordained priest on December 12, 1943 by Bishop Burkhard Huwiler M.Afr., he pursued further studies at the Scientific Missionary Institute De Propaganda Fide in Rome, Italy, between 1948 and 1951, earning a doctorate magna cum laude in canon law. Appointed apostolic vicar of Lower Rugera by Pope Pius XII at thirty nine years of age, he received his episcopal consecration with the titular see of Febiana from Archbishop David Mathew, becoming the first African bishop to be consecrated in East Africa. Upon his apostolic vicariate's elevation to a diocese on March 25, 1953, Monsignor Rugambwa was named the first ordinary of Rutabo. There, he founded the Rubya and Mugana hospitals, the Major Seminary of Ntungamo and a secondary school for girls which presently carries his name. Pope John XXIII created him cardinal priest in the consistory of March 28, 1960 with the title of San Francesco d'Assisi a Ripa Grande. On the following June 21, his diocese was renamed Bukoba. The progressive Rugambwa was an early and active participant in the Second Vatican Council, advocating the internationalization of the Roman Curia and the adaptation of the liturgy to local customs and music. In 1961, he received an honorary doctorate in laws from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. Promoted to the metropolitan see of Dar-es-Salaam by Pope Paul VI on December 19, 1968, along his episcopate he introduced several religious from different congregations of both men and women who helped him to open many parishes in the predominantly Muslim city of Dar-es-Salaam. He built the first Catholic hospital in Ukonga, founded a religious order for women under the name Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and twenty elementary schools. A strong voice for ecumenism and undisputed leader of all religious denominations, he retired from the pastoral government of his see on July 22, 1992 and was succeeded by his coadjutor, Monsignor Polycarp Pengo. Cardinal Rugambwa passed away in Dar-es-Salaam on Monday, December 8, 1997, at 10.15 pm. Laid out in state at St. Joseph's cathedral, where solemn funeral mass was also held on Saturday, December 13, he was buried temporarily in the church of Kashozi, the first mission of the Bukoba rural district in North Tanzania, some fifteen kilometers from Bukoba town. There he rested until October 2012, when his remains were transferred to the cathedral of Bukoba, after restorations on the latter were completed. The transfer of his remains coincided with the centenary of his birth. Immortalized by Giacomo Manzù on his Door of Death at St. Peter's Patriarchal Vatican Basilica, he is considered as a possible candidate for future beatification.

Bio by: Eman Bonnici


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Eman Bonnici
  • Added: 10 Apr 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 88295422
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Cardinal Laurean Rugambwa (12 Jul 1912–8 Dec 1997), Find A Grave Memorial no. 88295422, citing Cathedral Of Bukoba, Bukoba, Kagera, Tanzania ; Maintained by Find A Grave .