During Burundi's 1993-2005 civil war, students at Buta Minor Seminary were ordered at gunpoint to separate by ethnicity—Hutus over here, Tutsis over there! They chose instead to join hands and affirm their common identity as children of God. The forty students killed were quickly proclaimed martyrs of fraternity. Their costly solidarity defused the cry for reprisals and continues to inspire Burundians and others on the path of reconciliation.
As the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes investigates the Burundi martyrs' cause for sainthood, Jodi Mikalachki, associate professor of English at the University of Burundi, examines how Burundian Catholics understand the significance of the Buta martyrdom to their country and the world. Her research draws on fifty interviews with survivors, parents of martyrs, neighbors, religious leaders and other Burundian intellectuals.