Visit to Lesotho in August 2017

Source: District of Africa

Visit to Lesotho: August 2017

The Lesotho pickup was used for the second time this month to transverse the rugged road to the village of Ha Chaka with far greater ease and no damage
to the vehicle. Its larger and covered bed allowed many boxes of the
furnishings of our translator, Adelina Mosese, to be brought to her small
house from our school in Roodepoort where she used to live before her
stroke. It is far less stressful riding in a vehicle that can ride over the
boulders and deep pits on the road. Deo gratias!

Along the way, I stopped to visit the wife and son of a man who tragically
died last month in a car accident in Maseru. I gave her the story of the
chieftess, Maria Fatima Appi, who converted and founded the shrine in
Ramabanta which the faithful visited on pilgrimage in May. I also gave her a
dvd of The miracle of Fatima as well as holy cards of Blessed Joseph Gerard,
the apostle of Lesotho. Outside her home upon leaving the neighborhood
children crowded around the pickup to get rosaries and holy cards.

In Ha Chaka, Adelina was delighted as usual to have a visit of priest. She
walked by herself only a few steps, but she supervised the cooking while we
were there. There was no propane gas for the freezer, which we use as a
refrigerator, so the next morning we went into town to buy another cylinder.

But that was on the way to visit the royal burial ground upon the
mountainous natural fortress of Thaba-Bosiu, where a critical battle against
the Dutch was won by King Moshoeshoe in 1865. It was his home and had he
been killed, the country of Lesotho which he had just founded would have
been overrun by the Protestant Boers. Blessed Joseph Gerard heroically snuck
food to him and his troops at the risk of his own life. On August 15, the
feast of the Assumption, Bishop Allard with the consent of the king
consecrated Lesotho to our Lady, and both the king and Blessed Joseph Gerard
attributed the victory won that day to this consecration. Thereafter the
king allowed the Missionary of Mary Immaculate to evangelize his country
which now boasts of having half of its population being Catholics.

On Sunday, the tent was set up as usual, though there was concern among the
faithful that there would not be enough volunteers to erect the tent since
there were too few when it was set up on the previous visit, causing
discouragement to the man who always organizes the operation. There were
about a hundred faithful at Mass and three baptisms after the Mass, two
infant twin girls and a thirteen year old girl. The latter made her first
Holy Communion the next day at a Mass which was very well attended in the
afternoon when the children would be home from school. She was enrolled in
the brown scapular also, along with others both in Ha Chaka and at the
Sunday afternoon Mass in Maseru for the women of the sodality of St. Anne.
They were so joyful to receive the scapulars for themselves and their
families that they sang a Sesotho Catholic hymn for me to show their

On Monday we visited the royal palace in Maseru to request an interview of
the king. We found out that such requests had to be made in writing, so we
went searching for stationary store to get suitable paper, pen and envelope
for the letter to His Majesty Letsie III who is a devout Catholic, sometimes
attended daily Mass and the Queen recently joined the sodality of St. Anne.

In my letter I asked the king to renew the consecration of his county to the
Immaculate Heart made in 1865 and more formally at Ramabanta in 1946. I
recalled the request of the Sacred Heart through St. Margaret Mary to the
King of France, the consecration of Ecuador by President Garcia Moreno in
1874 and of Portugal at the suggestion of St. Lucy of Fatima which brought
fifty years of Catholic peace to that country as a sign of her power to give
peace to the whole world if Russia were to be consecrated to her Immaculate
Heart by the Pope and bishops of the world.

On Tuesday I brought Holy Communion to David, the paralyzed boy. He was in
very good dispositions and happy to see us, but he looked more thin and
weaker. Afterwards I returned to the royal palace to see the status of my
request to see the king. The receptionist ignored me for fifteen minutes,
not even looking at me while eating an orange and chatting on the phone
during two different phone calls. Providentially, a dignified older man
entered the reception area and asked the purpose of my visit. The
receptionist quickly hung up the phone. I later found out that he was one of
the king's chauffeurs. He invited me to follow him upstairs to the office of
the king's deputy secretary who graciously received me and told me that I
would not be able to get an appointment for a couple of weeks as it takes
time for such requests to be reviewed both by the king's secretaries and the
king himself. Still he hinted that he would try to use his influence with
the king to allow me to meet with him.

When carrying out my luggage and the Mass kit from the hut used for the
chapel in Ha Chaka, I banged my head on the low doorway causing my head to
bleed. This seems to happen almost every time I leave Ha Chaka when I get
tired and less attentive. The children at the school back in Roodepoort
could see the wound and asked me about it.

On the road that crosses the border from Lesotho to South Africa, I had to
pass through dense smoke as the fire burning the fields had crossed over the
paved road, apparently causing a car accident. Hence the emergency workers
told me to drive through the smoke slow, with my headlights and hazard
lights on.

Lastly I visited a conservative Novus Ordo priest who often offers the
traditional Mass. He lives alone and there are no priests in his diocese who
shares his conservative views. I invited him to attend our priests' retreat
in Novena which he agreed to attend if he could get the funds needed. I told
him that one of our parishioners in Roodepoort had heard of him and had
already offered to pay whatever expenses he might incur in attending the
retreat. This parishioner will also pay for another conservative Novus Ordo
priest to attend the retreat, whom I often visited when driving back from
Namibia to Cape Town. These two priests are friends so it works out well
that they will attend their first SSPX priests' retreat together.

Now I am searching for the prayer whereby Lesotho was officially consecrated
to the Immaculate Heart. While in Lesotho I visited the major seminary in
Roma, only to find that their archives are in disarray as they were recently
moved from Mazenod where the printing house of the Oblates of Mary
Immaculate is located. Two of older priests at the seminary were give the
story of the shrine at Ramabanta and told me that I am doing a very good
work there. They then asked a seminarian from South Africa to escort me to
the Scholasticate building where I met another priest who is visiting there
but who could not find the Brother with the key to the library. He sent me
to the printing house in Mazenod, where I met another priest in the tailor
shop. He said that there were no longer any archives there. The books in
their store did have any reference to the consecration of Lesotho to Our
Lady. Hence he sent me back to Roma and gave me the personal phone number of
the priest in charge of the archives, who also teaches in the University
there. His expertise is in medieval philosophy, so I gave him a copy of my
translation of St. Thomas' Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, which he
was happy to receive. He said that he is currently writing the history of
the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Lesotho and would send me a copy when he
is finished. He told me that the archives had been moved by "street workers"
who left them in a heap. Since then he hired two professional librarians to
sort them out, one told me that if she finds the consecration prayer that I
am looking for, she will contact me.

While in Roma I visited, as I do on each visit, the tomb of Blessed Joseph
Gerard to ask his intercession in this work of having Lesotho reconsecrated
to the Immaculate Heart by the king and possibly by the archbishop of
Maseru, who is a relative of the king. I gave the pastor of the church in
Roma who often has let me into the church where Blessed Joseph Gerard is
buried a copy of the booklet, which gives the history of the shrine in
Ramabanta and of the various consecrations of Lesotho to Our Lady. So, even
if nothing comes from this endeavor, at least more priests and a seminarian
were able to meet a priest of the Society of St. Pius X.

Below is the information that I have been given so far about the history of
the consecration of Lesotho to the Immaculate Heart:

Consecration of Lesotho

"In the evening we had a beautiful procession, in honor of the most Holy
Virgin. We read a consecration of the nation, of the person of King
Moshoeshoe, of his subjects, etc. to the Blessed Virgin. This made everyone
happy." (February, 1868- The Diary of Father Gerard at Roma Mission, pg.

"When King Moshoeshoe visited the Catholic mission of the Village of the
Mother of Jesus (as Roma was then called), a messenger sent by President
Brand delivered an ultimatum to him.

"The diary added: 'Before returning home, King Moshoeshoe asked for prayer.
Immediately we went to the poor little chapel, and at the altar of the
Blessed Virgin. An in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament we made fervent

"'I took the beautiful little statue of the Blessed Virgin and put it in the
hands of the king, who gazed at it with confidence.'

"During August 1865, the Boers [or Dutch farmers] camped at the foot of
Thaba Bosiu, where King Moshoeshoe lived. For weeks they shelled the
impregnable rock. The thousands of cattle and horses brought there to get
away from the Boers were destroyed by the guns, but in spite of hunger and
thirst, King Moshoeshoe remained firm.

"On August 10, 1865, in a letter to his Superior General, Father Gerard
described the appearance of the Boers in Roma Valley. He said it was a
memorable day for him because he was granted remarkable protection by Mary

"'Some of the Boers had come back from the mountains, where they had taken
3,000 to 4,000 head of cattle. They began to shoot from above on the wood
where I was, in order to kill the Basotho hidden there and to drive away
their cattle.

"'I was alone near our baggage at the lower part of the forest when I heard
rapid shooting. I naturally thought the Boers would follow the contours and
not spare the lower part where I found myself.

"'Having no idea how to act, I got into the tent of our wagon. The army
reached the place beside the one where I am hiding. The firing tells me
about it, and I could even distinguish the orders given by the general.

"'Already several bullets whistle past me. I resign myself to God's will and
prepare to die. Mother Mary, pray for me at the hour of danger. Three
bullets fly past me, one tearing the breviary at my feet.

"'Undoubtedly the hand of Mary deflected a great number of bullets, sine
they bored hoes through the wagon. The storm passed over and Sister
Mary-Joseph and Sister Mary of Jesus arrived, deeply concerned about me, to
see if I had an accident.'

On August 15, 1865, on the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
the fiercest assault on Thaba Bosiu was made by the Boers. Upon it hung the
life or death of King Moshoeshoe and his young nation.

"It was an unhappy day for the Boers: they lost one of their generals -
Commander Louw Wepener - and several men.

"Father Gerard reported that when he heard the noise of the cannons, he ran
to warn Bishop Allard - who was with the sisters, two priests and two

"'All the family fell on their knees," he wrote. 'It was on this memorable
day that the Blessed Virgin Mary received Lesotho as her precious dowry from
the hands of her divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.'

"After a siege lasting two months, the Boers retired, discouraged. But
Father Gerard said they took away a large number of horses and cattle.

"Throughout the siege, Father Gerard risked his life to help King
Moshoeshoe. On many occasions he sneaked past the Boers to take him food
prepared by the Holy Family sisters.

"When King Moshoeshoe was dying in January 1870, he expressed his
appreciation to Father Gerard for remaining faithful throughout the war.

"The missionary believed that the war helped to make the Catholic Church
known to the Basotho. Mary people, fleeing from the enemy, found refuge at
the mission.

"Two old women, both infirm, were sheltered. Another aged about 80, covered
with vermin and nearly dead from starvation, was carried to safety on the
shoulders of Father Gerard.

"Two Basotho, wounded by the Boers, were bandaged and looked after by the
sisters for a month before dying of their wounds.

"The Boers stopped their siege on September 25 - and the priest celebrated
with a thanksgiving service for the divine protection of the nation.

"Father Gerard's diary records: 'Moshoeshoe is quite convinced it was the
work of God.'"

(Taken from "Father Gerard: learning from the Dutch and caught in the
crossfire of war, "The Pope among us," (September 15, 1988), pp. 20-21).

"According to Libreton, Bishop Allard and Fr. Gerard had gathered their
catechumens to pray for the nation on 15th August 1865, the day on which
Catholics celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  That same day, a
commando unde Louis Wepener was led up the Rautho pass to gain the mountain
top. Wepener was trying to find a way round the walled fortification that
blocked the top of the pass when he fell dead, hit by a rifle shot. Soon
afterwards the Bosotho charged down the mountainside and routed the whites.

(Evangeline Ramahadi, The Aims of Religious Education in Lesotho
(University of Witwtersrand, Johannesburg, 1987), p.13.

Fr. Paul Kimball