On 1st July 2019, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome issued a formal nihil obstat for the cause of the beatification of Franciscan missionary John Bradburne to proceed. The letter was sent to Archbishop Ndlovu, primate of Zimbabwe, who in April this year had convened a meeting of Zimbabwean Bishops at which there was unanimous approval to support the cause. A postulator, Dr Enrico Solinas, a lay judge at the Umbrian Interdiocesan Ecclesiastical Court of Perugia, was appointed in 2018 and is now taking the cause forward.
John Bradburne, born in Skirwith, Cumbria, in 1921 and a third-order Franciscan, was killed in Rhodesia in 1979 for refusing to abandon the lepers he had looked after for many years. Since his death, the leprosy settlement where he worked, Mutemwa, has become a major pilgrimage centre. Each year, on the anniversary of his death, 5th September, thousands gather to hear Mass and process up to the mountain where he walked and prayed.
On 5th September 2019, the fortieth anniversary of John's assassination, there will be a special ceremony at Mutemwa, where the cause will be officially launched. Thousands of people are expected to be there, including many from outside Zimbabwe. Two weeks later, in the afternoon of 21st September, the celebrations will continue in London, with a Mass at Westminster Cathedral, followed by an exhibition in the hall about John's life, along with talks and Zimbabwean music. John's Franciscan habit will be on display, as will his beloved typewriter, and some of his manuscripts. This will be the first time John's relics have been displayed publicly.