Augustinian Martyrs of Mombasa and Companions
Anthony of the Nativity, Anthony of the Passion, Dominick of the Birth of Christ and the Community of Catholics
Servants of God
Anthony of the Nativity and his companions (died 1631) were put to death when they refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.
Mombasa, a city in what is now Kenya, was a Portuguese colony during the early part of the 17th Century. Most of its citizens were Animists or Muslims, but there was a Christian community there too, comprised of both Portuguese and native people. Augustinians had been pastoring the Church in Mombasa since 1597.
Prince Jerome Chingulia was the ruler of Mombasa, serving as the representative of the Portuguese Viceroy of Goa. Although Chingulia had been converted to Christ and been Baptized, he returned to his earlier Muslim faith.
Above all, Chingulia wanted to drive out the Portuguese. The opportunity finally presented itself. During the night of August 16, 1631, he and his men attacked the Portuguese inside their fort. They killed the Portuguese soldiers and set fire to all the Portuguese dwellings.
Those Christians who were able to escape took refuge in the Catholic Church. The three Augustinians there, Anthony of the Nativity, Anthony of the Passion and Dominick of the Birth of Christ, tried futilely to convince Chingulia to set the Christians free.
Chingulia, for his part, attempted to make the Christians embrace Islam. Encouraged by the three Priests, the Christians chose to remain faithful to Christ.
On August 21, Chingulia ordered the three Augustinians, along with the other Christians sheltered in the church, to appear before him. He deceived the Christians, making them think that he was going to send them to the nearby island of Pate, where another Portuguese garrison was stationed.
They marched to the port, but instead of finding a boat there to carry them to Pate they were met by a group of armed men. These men proceeded to attack the Christians with swords, clubs and oars. The Christians, holding fast to their faith, were martyred. Only one avoided death by renouncing Jesus Christ.
The brutal martyrdom that took place that day did not succeed in wiping out the Christian faith. There is a vibrant Catholic community in Kenya today which proudly remembers the faith and courage of the Mombasa martyrs. Augustinian friars help to provide pastoral care.
The process of beatification and canonization of the Martyrs of Mombasa began shortly after their death. The diocesan investigation opened in Goa in 1632. Josef Sciberras, O.S.A., the Augustinian Postulator of Causes, is now overseeing the progress of their cause.