Issued by the John Bradburne Memorial Society


On 1 July 2019 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome issued a formal nihil obstat for the cause of 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, 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, Mutemwa, the leprosy settlement where he worked, has become a major pilgrimage centre. Each year, on the anniversary of his death, 5 September, thousands gather to hear Mass and process up the mountain where he walked and prayed.

On 5 September 2019, the 40th 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 the 21st, 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 a talks and Zimbabwean music.

John's Franciscan habit will be one of the things 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.

The John Bradburne Memorial Society was established in 1995 by Celia Brigstocke, John's niece and John Reid, to do two things: to continue his legacy by providing perpetual financial support for Mutemwa, desperately in need of help, and to promote his cause for beatification, given the widespread belief in his sanctity expressed by all who met him.

The administrator of the Society is Celia's daughter, Kate Macpherson, who can be contacted for further information by email at [email protected]

To read more about John Bradburne see the award-winning biography, translated from the French, by Didier Rance, The Vagabond of God (Darton Longman and Todd, 2017).

For his poetry, there is David Crystal, A Life Made of Words: the Poetry and Thought of John Bradburne (2018, available from the JBMS or through

A range of other pamphlets and books can be seen at the JBMS website  - - including a CD of John reading some of his poems and a DVD made in Zimbabwe about his time there.