Blessed Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi was born in September 1903 in Igboezunu Aguleri, a village in south-eastern Nigeria in the present day Anambra State.
Blessed Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi was born in the village of Igboezunu – Aguleri, Nigeria, West Africa in September 1903.
Blessed Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi was born in the village of Igboezunu – Aguleri which is
situated around the south-eastern geopolitical zone of Nigeria, West Africa in the present day
Anambra State in September 1903.
Tradition has it that, Blessed Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi was born into a non-Christian
family and got baptised with the name Michael, when he was barely 10 years of age since he
was opportune to attend a catholic school where he learnt more about Jesus Christ. He is often
identified as Father Michael Iwene Tansi.
Father Michael Iwene Tansi first served the Catholic Church after his baptism as a catechism
instructor where he taught the catholic faith to those who were to be baptised as Catholics.
Through this experience of teaching catechism, he developed his career of educating young
men and women around his village. After some time, he went ahead to train for the catholic
priesthood and was ordained at the age of 34 years. Father Michael Iwene Tansi did his priestly
ministry in mostly eastern communities around Anambra State.
Indeed, Father Michael Iwene Tansi is most times celebrated for his strong dedication to his
local community and his strong devotion to the Christian faith which he processed right from
his conversion to Christendom.
In performing his priestly ministry, Father Michael Iwene Tansi would often travel to
evangelize the neighbouring village communities. This he did with his bicycle as means of
transportation and sometimes on his foot. He spent most of his time visiting the sick people in
the village, the poor and the unloved in the communities where he ministered.
Father Michael Iwene Tansi later on in his life time sought permission to become a member of
the Trappist monastery officially known as Cistercians Monks of Strict Observance of Mount
St Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire in England. As he remained a monk, he was renamed
Cyprian and his desire was to be able to open a Cistercian monastery in Nigeria in the years he
lived which he could not actualise. Although, he was later commissioned to establish a
Cistercian monastery in neighbouring Cameroon, even though his health deteriorating did not
allow this to materialise.
Father Michael Iwene Tansi died at the age of 61 years and in 1986, his remains was moved
from the Cistercian Monastery of Mount St Bernard Abbey in Coalville – Leicestershire to
Nigeria for burial. Then, on 22nd March of 1998, Father Michael Iwene Tansi was beatified by
Pope John Paul II in a ceremony which was held in Onitsha located in present day Anambra
State. The Pope John Paul II declared January 20th as a day reserved to celebrate his feast since
he died on this day in 1964. His relics is situated in the Cathedral Basilica of the Most Holy
Trinity in Onitsha Archdiocese, Anambra State, Nigeria, West Africa.
By Father Paul Ubebe, Priest of the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary
The figure of Father Michael Iwene Tansi challenges me to be dedicated to the priestly responsibility I have embraced, and the willingness to make sacrifices in propagating the faith I profess wherever I find myself as a missionary.
Mainly Father Michael Iwene Tansi remains a daily inspiration not only for me, but for those who study his life. In fact, his dedication to reduce the barrier of distance in preaching the Word of God is a strong motivation.
On another note, the personality of Father Michael Iwene Tansi has taught me, over the years, to remain resilient in proclaiming and teaching the Catholic faith – not only in my locality but to carry the mission of Christ across borders.
Most importantly, Father Michael Iwene Tansi should be an inspiration to many for his deep sense of humility and dedication to evangelisation. He was also dedicated to helping the poor and marginalised in his community.
On a final note, Father Michael Iwene Tansi is often invoked as the patron of those seeking a strong and deep faith in God.
Photo: © Jennifer Udoka Igboanug