Ezechiele Ramin was born in Padua, Italy. As a teenager, moved by the poverty in the world, he joined an association called “Open Hands,” collecting rubbish to raise funds for the Third World. When he was eighteen, he delivered a speech on World Mission Sunday, stating, “Christ is the face of the poor brother, the old man devoured by leprosy, the millions of hungry. . . . Our Christianity is a strong commitment that can become, if we want, a witness of life to those around us, because one never arrives before God alone.”
Despite this earnestness, it came as a surprise to Ramin’s family and friends when he announced his plans to join the Comboni Missionaries. He was sent for studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and then returned to Padua for his ordination in 1980. His overseas missionary assignment came in 1984 when he was sent to Brazil, to the Cacoal mission in the state of Rondônia. The region was beset by rising tensions between poor, landless peasants and the expansive plantations claimed by large landowners and multinational corporations. Some of the peasants started settling on portions of this unused land, setting the stage for a violent explosion.
On July 24, 1985, Ramin traveled to the area of conflict, finding a dozen of the settlers facing a group of gunmen. He seemed to diffuse the situation, and the gunmen departed. But they waited for Ramin a few miles away, blocking the passage of his jeep and shooting him more than fifty times. A martyr of charity, his cause for canonization is in process.
“I follow the path of the missionary, not on my own initiative, but because God sought me and continually asks me if I want to follow him.”
—Servant of God Ezechiele Ramin