The Franciscan nun was stabbed to death with 54 blows in 1995. She spent and gave her life to serve the poor. 10,000 people are expected to attend beatification.
Indore (AsiaNews) - The beatification of Sister Rani Maria, the Franciscan Poor Clare assassinated in 1995 when she was stabbed 54 times in Indore (Madhya Pradesh), will take place on 4 November. Msgr. Chacko Thottumarickal, bishop of Indore commented to AsiaNews: "We are sure that the mighty intercession of Sr. Rani Maria, who worked, served and died for the poor, will make our service more effective for the good of all people."
The news of the conclusion of the verification process in the cause of beatification was published last March. On that occasion, Card. George Alencherry, head of the Syrian-Malabar Church, commented: "It is a blessing for the Indian Church." On February 25, 1995, Sister Rani Maria was killed at age 41 by a Hindu radical, fomented by village leaders who wanted to block her business in favor of the poor tribal.
Born in Kerala, the young nun had moved in the diocese of Indore (Madhya Pradesh) to work at the service of the local poor population, mostly tribal. The missionary dedicated her life in favor of the villagers, obtaining bank credit lines and tax breaks for the cultivation of land. She created support groups for women and also helped in the most strenuous jobs, such as building a well for clean water to drink and irrigate their fields.
Her social work became "inconvenient" for the Hindu village heads, who previously held the tribals in check by granting loans. If the farmers were not able to compensate them, they took possession of the crop and soil. The "official" credit obtained by Sister Rani Maria were an obstacle to businesses of Hindu leaders, who decided to foment and arming a poor Hindu, Samunder. He, sure of their support, murdered the nun in front of dozens of witnesses, while she was on a shuttle bus to her original home.
Immediately after the murder, however, the assassin was abandoned by family and by those who had used it to eliminate the nun. The only one who has remained close was an Indian priest, Swamy Sadanand, who put him in contact with religious sister’s family. Speaking to AsiaNews sister Selmy Paul, the sister of martyr, told the story of her family and how the mercy of God has acted on her and her siblings to help seek a pardon for the murderer. Among those who immediately unconditionally welcomed the Hindu tribal poor was the missionary’s mother, who responded to the request to meet him with the words: "I would kiss his hands, and because they have the blood of my daughter."
On November 4, the ceremony will be officiated by Card. Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. It will take place at 10 am (local time) at the St. Paul School, adjacent to the Episcopal House. Bishop Thottumarickal reports that about 10,000 faithful are expected, including a group of pilgrims from Kerala, the family of the nun, the Franciscan sisters of Poor Clare, and representatives of various congregations. During the celebration, a relic of the religious, a rib bearing the marks of the stab wound will be exposed.
The beatification will be preceded by a prayer vigil in the Indore cathedral, attended by the bishops and the cardinals who will celebrate the Eucharist the next day. Among them, Msgr. Leo Cornelio, Archbishop of Bhopal, and Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai. On Nov. 5, the Apostolic Nuncio (Msgr. Giambattista Diquattro] will chair a mass in suffrage on the tomb of Sister Rani Maria, at the Sacred Heart Church in Udainagar (about 60 km from Indore).
(Nirmala Carvalho collaborated)