Blessed Leonella Sgorbati

Blessed Leonella SgorbatiAlso known as

  • Rosa Maria Sgorbati



Youngest of three children born to Carlo Sgorbati and Giovannina Teresa Vigilini; she was baptised almost immediately after birth at her parish church of San Savio. The family moved to Milan, Italy on 9 October 1950 when Leonella was 9 so her father could find work; he died less than a year later on 16 July 1951 when Leonella was 10 years old. She felt a call to religious life and missionary work in her mid-teens, but at her mother‘s request she waited until age 20 to make a final decision. She joined the Consolata Mission Sisters in San Fre, Cuneo, Italy on 5 May 1963, making her profession in November 1972, and taking the name Leonella.

She studied nursing from 1966 to 1968. Assigned to Kenya in September 1970, she worked at the Consolata Hospital Mathari in Nyeri, and the Nazareth Hospital in Kiambu from 1970 to 1983; part of her work was as a midwife. After additional training, she began teaching nursing in Nkubu Hospital in Meru, Kenya in 1985. Regional superior of the Sisters in Kenya from November 1993 to 1999.

In 2001 she began work on what would become the Hermann Gmeiner School of Registered Community Nursing attached to the SOS Children’s Village hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia; it opened in 2002 with Sister Lenoella in charge and conducting part of the teaching. Following a trip to Italy in 2006, she had trouble being allowed back in to Mogadishu as Islamic courts had taken control of the area; she managed to return to her work at the hospital on 13 September 2006. Sister Leonella and her guard and driver, Mohamed Osman Mahamud, a Muslim father of four, were murdered four days later in retaliation for Pope Benedict XVI having quoted a 600-year-old text that dismissed the contributions of Islam, gunned down in the street as she walked from the children‘s hospital. She died forgiving her attackers. Martyr.






I forgive, I forgive. – Blessed Leonella’s dying words

Sometimes, certain people are asked for the supreme testimony of blood, which also happened a few days ago to the Italian Religious, Sister Leonella Sgorbati, who died a victim of violence. This Sister, who served the poor and the lowly in Somalia for many years, died with the words “I forgive” on her lips: this is the most genuine Christian witness, a peaceful sign of contradiction that demonstrates the victory of love over hatred and evil. – Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, 24 September 2006

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Leonella Sgorbati“. CatholicSaints.Info. 21 July 2021. Web. 19 October 2021. <>