(LifeSiteNews) — Hiding in a tiny bathroom for 91 days with seven other ladies during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a Catholic woman says she prayed the Rosary numerous times a day every day during the height of the violence, which ended up claiming the lives of most of her family members.
My guest on today’s episode of The John-Henry Westen Show is Immaculée Ilibagiza, author of Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, who also travels the world giving talks and retreats on “faith, hope, and forgiveness.”
Ilibagiza, a Tutsi college student studying electrical and mechanical engineering in 1994, hid with seven other women in a 3 x 4 foot bathroom of a Hutu pastor’s house after genocidal violence broke out in Rwanda. Her father had given her a set of rosary beads before urging her to flee to the pastor’s house for protection.
“I was angry. I was impatient. I had a fear that you can die just out of being fearful, because what was happening was just extreme,” she tells me. “And [Hutu militia members] started to come to search for us. So this was a four-bedroom house. They would come up to the door of the bathroom and then they would go back. But we never knew if they would never come back. So I remember starting to pray the first week before they started to search. I would pray [a] Hail Mary, [but] I wouldn’t even finish it because anxiety was so high.”
Having prayed up to 27 rosaries each day, Ilibagiza says she recalls when God “touched her heart” and enabled her to forgive those inflicting genocide on members of her ethnic group, including those who murdered her family members.
“But sometimes forgiveness has so many stages and also demands a lot of actions. Sometimes somebody is trying to hurt you and you need to run, like Our Lady and St. Joseph had to run from Herod,” she explains. “And sometimes you just have to stand up for what is right and and be yourself. So that is maybe the hardest thing for me in my life now, for sure forgiveness. I must forgive.”
“If I feel anger … if I go through a betrayal, something that hurts, and I feel like I wish that person maybe to feel what they have caused me, I go to say my Rosary …” she adds.
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