Same Memory, Different Memorials

The Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans), Martyrdom and the Kongolo Massacre

in Social Sciences and Missions
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Recent literature on modern martyrdom and memory has focused on cases in which individual groups remember martyrs’ sacrifices by making similar memorials to them. However, this article argues that even if members of a group agree on a martyr narrative, different memorials with diverse meanings can still be erected in memory of the martyrs concerned. This article supports its argument by exploring the case of twenty members of the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans) who were killed on 1 January 1962 in Kongolo in southeastern Congo-Kinshasa. The memorials dedicated to these Spiritans differ substantively with each other by emphasizing different aspects of sacrifice and memory. This article concludes by arguing that the diversity of memorials involved in this case alerts us to the fact that the traditions associated with martyrdom do not always dominate the public memory of those who sacrifice their lives for a cause.

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