01/09/2008, 00.00
THAILAND

Catholics mourn the loss of Princess Galyani Vadhana

by Weena Kowitwanij
The princess was the sister of King Anandhamahidol (Rama VIII) and King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), on the throne since 1946. She played a key role in the country’s development, especially of its remotest areas. Bishops and faithful remember her.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Seven days after the death on 2 January of Princess Galyani Vadhana, 84, Buddhist believers are donating food to monks in an act of charity. The country’s Christian community and its bishops are also mourning the passing of a woman who played a key role in the country’s destiny.

According to Thai tradition a body must wait 100 days before it is cremated. Mgr George Yod Phimphisan, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand, invited the faithful to pray for the princess’s soul as well as celebrate a daily Mass during this period.

Bishop Phimphisan voiced his sadness for the “great loss,” urging Catholics to pray for God’s “protection for the country and the monarchy as well as peace, happiness and progress for its people.”

Card Michael Michai Kitbunchu, archbishop of Bangkok, and Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio, will celebrated a funeral Mass on 13 January in Bangkok’s Assumption Cathedral.

During her life Princess Galyani Vadhana was responsible for several actions in favour of the Catholic Church.

On 2 April 1995 she attended the opening ceremony of the Portuguese Shrine, the first Catholic community in Ayutthaya, the Thai Kingdom’s old capital.

On 1 March 1997 she presided over the opening ceremony of the building dedicated to King Bhumibol at the Mater Dei School, an institution that is run by Ursuline Sisters.

On 9 January 2000 she took part in the Great Jubilee at the National Stadium in Bangkok (see photo).

On 14 June 2000 the princess visited an HIV home run by Redemptorist Fr Joseph H. Myer.

On 28 September 2004 she attended the performance of Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor at Bangkok’s Assumption Cathedral.

In one of her many acts of charity she helped a Catholic family in Mae Hongsorn province to pay for their daughter’s cornea operation.

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