De La Salle Christian Brother (1856-1919)
+ Firinga was born in Tananarive, Madagascar, to an upper class, pagan family.
+ In 1866, the De La Salle Christian Brothers opened their first school and Firinga was mong the first students.
+ Inspired by the teaching and example of the brothers, he was baptized in 1869, receiving the name Raphaël Louis at the time of his baptism. He would later join the Christian Brothers, professing vows in 1879.
+ In 1883, all foreign missionaries were expelled from Madagascar , but Brother Raphaël Louis was allowed to stay and he became a leader of the remnant Catholic community in Madagascar. He organized catechists to help keep the faith alive and worked to protect the rights of Madagascar’s Catholic population.
+ In the years that followed, Brother Raphaël Louis helped to stabilize relations between Madagascar and France and he was later awarded the Medal of Civil Merit for his efforts.
+ Brother Raphaël Louis died in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, in 1919 and was beatified in 2009.
In 1989, Pope Saint John Paul II beatified Blessed Victoria Rasoamanarivo, a courageous and holy woman who worked to protect Catholics in Madagascar, sharing in Brother Raphaël Louis’s and the indigenous community’s efforts to preserve the Catholic Faith. Blessed Victoria died in 1894 and is honored on August 21.
“You should not be concerned about anything for this present life except to make God reign in your heart by his grace and by the fulness of his love. You should be living for him; the life of God ought to be the life of your soul.”—Saint John Baptist de la Salle
O God, by whose gift blessed Raphaël Louis persevered in imitating Christ, poor and lowly, grant us through his intercession that, faithfully walking in our own vocation, we may reach the perfection you have set before us in your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For Religious)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.