An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Mizeki, Bernard

(c. 1861-June 1896). Catechist and martyr in Rhodesia. He was born on the coast of Mozambique, and moved to Capetown, South Africa, in search of employment when he was a teenager. In Capetown he met Frederick Puller, a member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. Puller baptized Mizeki on Mar. 9, 1886, and trained him as a catechist. Puller gave Mizeki charge over St. Columba's Home for Africans, a boarding hostel on the outskirts of Capetown. Eventually, Mizeki moved to what is now Zimbabwe and established a small mission to the people of Chief Mangwende. As Mizeki made converts, he also made enemies. Since he was a Christian, some Africans saw him as an ally of the unwelcome western colonizers. In June 1896, during an uprising of the native people against the Europeans and their African friends, two men dragged Mizeki out of his hut and attacked him with spears. He was wounded and crawled into the protection of the night's darkness. Later that night, when his wife and another woman looked for him, they saw a bright light in the direction where Mizeki had gone, and they heard a sound “like many wings of great birds.” His body was never found. The site of the hut and chapel he built near Marondera is now a shrine where an annual festival is held. This annual event is an occasion for testifying, preaching, praying, singing, and healing. Mizeki is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on June 18.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.