Geyer, Francisco Saverio
Bishop Francisco Saverio Geyer was born at Regen in the Diocese of Passavia in 1859. Geyer arrived in the Sudan when he was twenty-three years old. His field of work was the Apostolic Vicariate of Central Africa which then extended from Asswan to the Red Sea shores, from Lake Chad to Ethiopia and Lake Albert. In 1883 he accompanied the new Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Sogaro, to Khartoum. The Mahdist Rising broke out after their arrival and Geyer, Bishop Sogaro and a number of missionaries, nuns, and black Christians took refuge in Egypt. There he began instructing the blacks while also acting as military chaplain to the Anglo-Egyptian army. He worked hard for the liberation of his co-missionaries and Sisters held prisoners of the Mahdi. They were liberated on September 2, 1898 when Kitchener’s troops won the battle of Omduran. Bishop Roveggio succeeded Bishop Sogaro and the missionaries resumed their work in the Sudan. Asswan was selected as the center and the new stations of Omdurman and Lul among the Shilluk were founded. In 1902 Geyer was consecrated Bishop and succeeded as Vicar Apostolic of Central Africa. He made Khartoum his center and from there made the famous missionary safaris described in his book Durch Sand, Sump und Wald (Through Sand, Swamp and Forest). The aim of these safaris was to discover new fields of evangelization and have exact information about the inhabitants, and were undertaken between 1902 and 1912. In 1902 he had nine missionaries to assist him; in 1912 forty-two priests, forty-five sisters, and thirty-four indigenous catechists, and seven more large stations had been founded—two in the Nile Province of Uganda. He retired sick and worn out in 1922 after 40 years of work and devoted the remaining years of his life to the formation of aspiring missionaries of the German branch of the Verona Fathers.
This article, used by permission, was written by Louise Pirouet, as part of A Dictionary of Christianity in Uganda (Department of Religious Studies, Makerere University College, 1969), p. 17. Copies available at Africana Section, Makerere University Library (AF Q 276.761 MAK and AR/MAK/99/1); Bishop Tucker Library, Uganda Christian University and in UK at the University of Birmingham; Crowther Centre Library, CMS Oxford and Louise Pirouet Papers, Cambridge Centre of African Studies.