Oil dedicated to Blessed Isidore Bakanja on prayer cloth
The Oil dedicated to Blessed Isidore Bakanja on prayer cloth is in honour of the African martyr.
Isidore Bakanja was born on c.1887 at Northeast Republic of the Congo. Isidore Bakanja worked as an assistant mason for white colonists in what was then the Belgian Congo and later known as Zaire. Convert, baptized 6 May 1906 at age 18 after receiving instruction from Trappists missionaries. Rosary in hand, he used any chance to share his faith; though untrained, many thought of him as a catechist. He left his native village because there were no fellow Christians.
He worked as a domestic on a Belgian rubber plantation. Many of the Belgian agents were atheists who hated missionaries due to their fight for native rights and justice. Isidore encountered their hatred when he asked leave to go home.
He was told to discard his scapular, and when he didn’t, he was flogged twice. The second time the agent tore the scapular from Isidore’s neck, had him pinned to the ground, and then beaten with over 100 blows with a whip of elephant hide with nails on the end. He was then chained to a single spot 24 hours a day.
Isidore was sent to another village. He managed to hide in the forest, then dragged himself to the inspector. He took Isidore home to heal, but Isidore knew better that he will die because he is a Christian.
Two missionaries who spent several days with him reported that he devoutly received the last sacraments. The missionaries urged Isidore to forgive the agent.
After six months of prayer and suffering, he died, rosary in hand and scapular around his neck.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.