Annalena Tonelli, 1943 - 2003
This is a person who lived the evangelical counsel that Jesus gave to the rich young man who approached him and asked what he had to do to get to heaven. Jesus told him to obey the commandments. When the young man said that he had done that all his life, Jesus told him, you still have something to do, "Go, sell all you have, give the proceeds to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me." (Matthew, 19; 21)
Annalena was a lawyer. Yes, a bona fide lawyer in her native Italy. After a few years of dedicating herself to the needy in Italy, she decided to give her life to the poor in Africa. Her first work was in Kenya with Somalian refugees, where she was very active in trying to convince the population there to stop mutilating women through the practice of infibulation. She was so active and so zealous for the kingdom of God that she was ambushed twice and survived. After the second time a judge told her that though she had done nothing illegal, it was impossible for anyone to assure her that a third attempt on her life could be prevented. She therefore moved to Somalia where she could work directly with the Somali people. During all this time, Annalena furthered her studies in various western European countries to make herself more expert in God's work for His people. Not long before her assassination she was awarded the Nansen Refugee Award, which is given annually by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to recognize outstanding service to the cause of refugees.
She, like many martyrs through history exercised the charism of prophecy given to us all in Baptism to perfection. She answered the call of Jesus to seek perfection by selling all, giving all to the poor, even her very life blood, walking in the footsteps of hers and our Loving Savior, Jesus.