Educated at Father Mazza’s Institute in Verona, Italy, studying theology, medicine, and several languages. Ordained on 31 December 1854 in the diocese of Verona, Italy by Blessed John Nepomuk von Tschiderer. Missionary to modern Sudan in 1857, but returned home in 1859 due to ill health. Taught at Mazza’s Institute 1861 to 1864. Wrote on the need for aid in Africa, that the aid should be used to “Save Africa Through Africa”, treating Africans as adults in need of a hand, not children in need of guidance as was common in European thought of the day. Travelled to France, Spain, England, Germany, and Austria to on fund-raising missions.
In 1867 at Verona, he founded the Istituto delle Missioni per la Nigrizia for priests and brothers, and the Istituto delle Pie Madri for women who were called to work in Africa; they became known as the Comboni Missionaries, and in 1894 became the Congregation of the Sons of the Sacred Heart. He opened similar institutions in Cairo, Egypt, to acclimatize missionaries to Central Africa. Wrote to the 1st Vatican Council in 1870 on the need for Church‘s involvement in African conversion. Pro-vicar Apostolic of Central Africa in 1872 covering Nubia, Egyptian Sudan, and the territory south to the Lakes (nearly 100,000,000 people). He founded missions in El-Obeid (Kordofan), Khartoum, Berber, Delen, and Malbes. Vicar Apostolic of Central Africa, titular bishop of Claudiopolis, and Bishop of Khartoum in 1877.
He helped suppress the slave trade in the region. Contributed material for scientific works about the region, and of its geography; works on several dialects were based in large part on Daniel’s notes about the languages. He spoke six European languages, Arabic, and several central African dialects. The Comboni Family continue their work today with priests, brothers and sisters ministering in hospitals, schools, and orphanages in 41 countries.
The missionaries will have to understand that they are stones hid under the earth, which will perhaps never come to light, but which will become part of the foundations of a vast, new building. - Saint Daniel Comboni
From the time of his priestly formation in the institute founded by the Servant of God Nicola Mazza, Daniel Comboni felt called to give his own life to proclaim the Gospel in the land of Africa. This awareness stayed with him throughout his life and supported him in his missionary labours and pastoral difficulties. He felt comforted in this dedication by the words he heard from Pope Pius IX: “Labora sicut bonus miles Christi pro African” (“Work like a good soldier of Christ for Africa” Scritti, n. 4085). The modernness and boldness of his work were expressed in the preparation and formation of future priests, in the tireless promotion of the missions by his writing and publishing, in the founding of two institutes one for men, the other for women exclusively dedicated to the mission “ad gentes”, by struggling for the abolition of the terrible slave-trade and by actively working “for the rebirth of Africa through itself”. These insights of the new blessed produced great fruit for the evangelization of the African continent by paving the way to the consoling growth of the Church in Africa today (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, nn. 3338). “Leading humanity to the light of eternal life”: Daniel Comboni’s ideal continues today in the apostolate of his spiritual sons and daughters. They still maintain strong ties in Africa, particularly in Sudan, where their founder spent a great part of his energy as a tireless evangelizer and where he died at a young age, worn out by his labours and illness. The unconditional trust he had in the power of prayer (cf. Scritti n. 2324) is effectively expressed in the “Cenacles of missionary prayer” which are being set up in many parishes and represent a significant way to promote and renew missionary spirituality. - Pope John Paul II at the beatification ceremony for Blessed Daniel on 17 March 1996