HARARE, Zimbabwe — British-born John Bradburne, who died in Zimbabwe 40 years ago, could be on his way to becoming the country’s first canonized saint.

Bradburne is a revered figure among the Catholic community in the landlocked southern African country of Zimbabwe. According to reports, Bradburne was shot in the back after he was abducted from his hut in Mutemwa in the northeast of Zimbabwe.

Who was he?

Born in 1921 to Anglican parents in Cumbria, England, Bradburne converted to Catholicism in 1947 while living with Benedictine monks, after he had a religious experience during World War II.

He lived after his conversion as a pilgrim, shuttling between England, the Middle East and Italy, living out of one bag. He was a prolific poet.

Bradburne joined the Secular Third Order Franciscan in 1956.

He later made contact with Father John Dove, a Jesuit friend living in Zimbabwe. Bradburne asked whether there was a “cave in Africa” where he could pray. Father Dove encouraged him to move to Zimbabwe, where he arrived in 1962.

In Zimbabwe, he told a Franciscan priest the three desires of his life: “to serve leprosy patients, to die a martyr, and to be buried in the Franciscan habit.”

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