Pietro Salvatore Colombo, OFM (28 October 1922 – 9 July 1989) was the Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Mogadiscio (Somalia) from 1976 until his assassination.

Pietro Salvatore Monsignor Colombo

Bishop of Mogadiscio, Somalia
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
ArchdioceseRoman Catholic Diocese of Mogadiscio
SeeSubject to the Holy See
Elected20 November 1975
In office9 July 1989
SuccessorBishop Giorgio Bertin, OFM
Ordination6 April 1946
by Bishop Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster
Consecration23 May 1968
by Bishop Giovanni Colombo
Rank Bishop-Priest
Personal details
Pietro Salvatore Colombo

(1922-10-28)28 October 1922
Died9 July 1989(1989-07-09) (aged 66)
Mogadishu, Somalia
BuriedMogadishu Cathedral(Original)
Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua(Current)
2°02′09″N 45°20′30″E / 2.0358°N 45.3416°E / 2.0358; 45.3416(Original)45°24′05″N 11°52′51″E / 45.4014°N 11.8808°E / 45.4014; 11.8808(Current)
NationalityItaly Italian
DenominationRoman Catholic
ParentsLuigi Colombo (father)
Ernestina Farina(mother)
Alma materSt.Anthony's Convent of Franciscan Friars



Colombo was born in Carate Brianza, near Milan. He served the people of Somalia from 1946, after he had been ordained a priest in Milan, Italy, until his death 43 years later. He was appointed as the first Bishop of Mogadishu in 1975, and ordained as Bishop of Mogadishu on 16 March 1976.[1]

Bishop Colombo was well regarded by non-Catholics, whether Muslim or secular. Bishop Colombo was known for his pragmatic oversight of aid projects, making sure that aid projects could operate after the foreign aid workers went home. The government of President Siad Barre did not tolerate proselytizing, but was comfortable with the humanitarian aid dispensed by the Church.[2]

Bishop Colombo was killed in his cathedral by an unknown assassin. President Barre blamed radical Islamists and offered a bounty for their capture.[3]> But many people believed that Barre had ordered the assassination, perhaps because Bishop Colombo had been critical of the Barre regime[4] or perhaps because Barre wanted a scapegoat which would increase military and other aid from Western governments,[5] or perhaps because Bishop Colombo had helped a clan which was out of favor with Barre purchase some land.[6] To this day, the controversy of who killed Bishop Colombo persists although his murder is seen as a turning point for Islamic/secular relations because of the severe crackdown by Barre in response to the murder.

4 days after Bishop Colombo's death, a series of arrests on Somali Sheikhs and other men on suspicion of having a connection to the assination. The next day on 14 July 1989, government forces massacred those leaving the Sheik Ali Suufi mosque after the Imam gave sermon denouncing the government. News of this resulted in civilian riots against government forces.

No bishop has been appointed for Mogadishu since Monsignor Colombo's death. Currently, the welfare of Catholics in Somalia is overseen by the Apostolic Administrator of Mogadishu, Dr. Giorgio Bertin, OFM, who is also the Bishop of Djibouti.

See also



  1. ^ Catholic Hierarchy
  2. ^ "Safirka: Envoy to Somalia". Peter Bridges American Diplomacy, Volume III, No.2, 1998
  3. ^ Religious Freedom in the Majority Islamic Countries, 1998 Report, Aid to the Church in Need, Alleanza Cattolica
  4. ^ "The Harrying of the Hawiye", A Country Study: Somalia. Helen Chapin Metz, ed. Government Printing Office, 1993
  5. ^ "Somalia: the State is Reborn". Davide Malacaria and Giovanni Cubeddu. 30 Days, Nov. 2004
  6. ^ "Former Somali Government Killed Bishop, Christians Charge" Catholic World News July 16, 2003
Catholic Church titles
Preceded byas Vicar Apostolic Bishop of Mogadiscio
1975 – 1989
Succeeded byas Apostolic Administrator