This Saturday marks the 35th anniversary of the death of John Bradburne, poet, lay Franciscan, musician, a friend of lepers and all outcast and poor people. He was killed by unknown assailant near Mutemwa in Zimbabwe, the leprosy village where he lived and worked. There will be a special Mass for him there this Sunday. Up to 25,000 are expected to attend.
John Bradburne was born on 14 June 1921 in Skirwith, Cambrian, the son of a Church of England vicar.
A charismatic figure, Bradburne once walked to Rome, lived for a year in the organ loft of a church and tried to live as a hermit on Dartmoor. He also served at Westminster Cathedral.
John was received into the Catholic Church in 1947 and travelled to Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, as a missionary helper in the 1960s where he became warden of the Mutemwa leprosy settlement. Friends urged him to quit Zimbabwe as the war against white rule escalated in the late Seventies but he refused. His body was found by the roadside near Mutemwa.
The John Bradburne Memorial Society was founded in 1995 to support the work of the leper settlement. Celia Brigstocke, director of the Society, is also leading calls for John Bradburne's beatification. Since Bradburne's death there have been claims of at least two miraculous cures linked to him. A woman in South Africa regained the use of her legs and a man in Scotland was cured of a brain tumour.
For more information see: www.johnbradburne.com/