On September 7, 2019, after meeting the bishops of Madagascar in Andohalo Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Pope Francis wanted to pray privately at the tomb of Victoria Rasoamanarivo, a 19th Century woman venerated by all the Catholics of the island.
Victoria Rasoamanarivo was born in 1848 in Tananarive, on the island of Madagascar, in one of the most powerful families in the country.
Educated in the idolatrous religion of her ancestors, the girl met several French Jesuits, whose preaching during a mission would change the course of her life.
Registered at the Mission School, she was soon baptized and took the name of Victoria, despite her family’s opposition.
Soon after attaining the rank of princess, Victoria was married to a high army officer, who was unfortunately a slave to alcohol and his passions. Despite this, the young wife still refused divorce, aware of the indissolubility and sacredness of the matrimonial tie.
When, in 1883, a persecution was unleashed and led to the expulsion of missionaries and the accusations of treason against Catholics, Victoria never ceased to profess faith in the true God. She also relentlessly interceded in court for the Church, insisting that Catholic places of worship and schools remain open while encouraging communities of the faithful to persevere.
A woman of prayer, she spent, according to the testimony of her servants, several hours a day in the church, also devoting herself to innumerable works of charity for the poor, the prisoners, the abandoned, and the lepers.
Recalled to God on August 21, 1894 at the age of 46, in 1989 that the Church proclaimed her “blessed,” thus consecrating her fidelity and perseverance in the time of profound religious crisis that the Christians of Madagascar were experiencing. She is an example to follow in the storms striking the Church today.