An officer of the Pontifical Zouaves defends Congo Catholics and defeats the Arab slave traders

July 18, 2011

Captain Leopold Louis Joubert

A veteran of Castelfidardo, Mentana, Rome and Loigny, [Leopold Louis] Joubert went about the Lord’s work with a will. Arriving at Mulwewa mission in the present-day Congo in 1880, with his brother Zouaves, he fortified the place and began to train the locals as a home guard to fight Arab slave traders. Joubert had hit upon a winning combination. He built two more such mission forts at either end of the lake, making the slavers’ task far more difficult. They counterattacked, burning two of his installations. Joubert built new ones, especially the fortress of Mpala where he trained a new force better than anything the slavers could field. He also married the daughter of a local chief and in time had ten children. Eventually, the Belgians gave him troops and weapons, and in 1898 he defeated the slavers once and for all. He settled down into the life of a lay missionary; two of his sons became priests. Knighted by both the king of Belgium and the Pope, in that faraway outpost he kept up the spirit of the Zouaves—unshakeable piety and a devotion to duty that refused to see any obstacles.


Charles A. Coulombe, The Pope’s Legion: The Multinational Fighting Force that Defended the Vatican (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008), pp. 212-213.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 92


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