Kigali, Rwanda, Apr 8, 2019 / 23:37 pm
The story of Cyprien and Daphrose Rugumba is a story of atheism and devout faith, of a strained marriage and a love that overcomes obstacles, of a powerful conversion that was able to change an entire life.
Cyprien and Daphrose were murdered 25 years ago, at the start of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Today, their cause for sainthood is open, and their impact lives on through the Emmanuel Community, an international Catholic association of the faithful focused on adoration, compassion and evangelization, which the couple brought to Rwanda.
As a young man, Cyprien entered seminary. His time there was difficult. Shocked by scandals among the other seminarians and discouraged by the writings of philosophers who criticized the Catholic Church, he left the seminary and fell away from the faith.
Cyprien found success in the arts, working as a poet, author, and composer. He became an influential government administrator, helping to protect and encourage the creation of traditional Rwandan art.
When his fiancée was killed in 1963, he asked to marry her cousin Daphrose, a devout Catholic, in order to honor his engagement to her family.
They were wed in 1965. The marriage was a rocky one, leading to an eight-month separation at one point. Even after the two were reconciled, Cyprien was repeatedly unfaithful to his wife, fathering a child out of wedlock. He also ridiculed his wife’s devotion to prayer and the Catholic Church.
Daphrose, however, remained undeterred in her faith and resolute in her beliefs about the sanctity of marriage. She prayed continually for her husband’s conversion and raised their 10 children in the faith, taking them to Mass with her.