Sister Rani Maria, Franciscan Clarist nun who was assassinated in central India 22 years ago, has been cleared for beatification by the Vatican on Mar 23.
Beatification is the penultimate stage in the four-phased canonization process in the Catholic Church. Rani Maria’s cause of canonization began in 2003 and she was declared a Servant of God four years later.
Rani Maria was 41 when Samandar Singh stabbed her inside a bus on February 25, 1995. Singh was hired by some landlords who were upset with the nun’s fighting for just wages and other rights of the laborers.
She was attacked while travelling to Indore on her way to her native place in Kerala. The attacker followed her when she ran out of the crowded bus and continued to stab her. She died of 54 stab wounds on the roadside at Nachanbore Hill near Indore.
She was buried at Udaingar in Dewas district where she had worked among poor landless agricultural laborers.
As part of her beatification process, on November 18, 2016 Bishop Chacko Thottumarikal of Indore supervised the opening of the slain nun’s tomb and shifted the mortal remains to a church.
Rani Maria was born on January 29, 1954, as the second of seven children of Paily and Eliswa Vattalil at Pulluvazhy, a small village near Kochi. She made her first profession on May 1, 1974, as Franciscan Clarist nun and chose the name Rani Maria. She began her mission in northern India in Bijnore in 1975 and came to Udainagar in 1992.
The slain nun’s family made international headlines when it accepted Singh as a member after forgiving him. Rani Maria’s younger sister Selmy Paul, also a member of the same congregation, accepted Singh as her brother by tying “rakhi” on Rakshabandan. Sister Paul’s gesture helped Singh to regret his action. He now leads an exemplary life in his village in central India after serving his life term.
A documentary, “The Heart of a Murderer,” which depicts the murder and subsequent repentance of Singh, won an award at the World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival in 2013.
The congregation’s website says the saintly nun’s courageous sacrifice and martyrdom has helped sow “the seed of love and justice and brotherhood in many hearts.”
It also says the nun, during her initial years in the mission, showed keen interest in educating children through formal and non-formal methods. “This slowly gave way to a much wider field of development of the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized,” the website says.
Her developmental programs among poor tribals went against the vested interests of unscrupulous moneylenders and social exploiters, it explains.
The congregation hails Rani Maria’s martyrdom as “the most glorious event in the history of Udainagar as well as of Amala Province.”
Source: Vatican Radio
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