10/28/2008, 00.00
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Fr. Bernard Digal dies, India mourns another martyr of Orissa

by Nirmala Carvalho
The religious was attacked on the night of August 25, by a crowd of Hindu fundamentalists who beat him and left him in the forest for an entire night. Yesterday, his lungs collapsed and he fell into a coma. At his deathbed, Archbishop Raphael Cheenath.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Fr. Bernard Digal has died after a slow agony of more than two months. The religious, brutally beaten by Hindu fundamentalists the night of August 25, has died two months later, this evening at 9:25 local time, from the serious injuries he suffered in the assault.

On Saturday, October 25, a feverish Fr. Digal was taken to St. Thomas Hospital in Chennai, in Tamil Nadu; the doctors operated on him to remove a blood clot from his brain, caused by the beating on the night he was attacked. Yesterday, his lungs collapsed and he fell into a coma. This morning, the bishop of the diocese gave him the anointing of the sick; Raphael Cheenath, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, was at his deathbed. The religious was given a respirator to keep him alive, but his body gave out.

Last September 10, we published an interview with Fr. Bernard Digal, given from the bed at the the Holy Spirit Hospital in Mumbai where he was hospitalized. During the interview, he told AsiaNews about the night of the attack and the violence he suffered. Fr. Bernard denounced "without bitterness, but also without sweetness" the brutality of the assault, following which "he remained unconscious and half naked in the forest for an entire night, until he was found by his driver."

"Fr. Bernard has been given the martyr's crown," Raphael Cheenath, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwa, tells AsiaNews. "Fr. Bernard succumbed to the merciless beatings from the Hinduvta extremists. The Kandhamal Christians now have a powerful intercessor in heaven, Fr. Bernard will now continue his work for our people from his heavenly home."

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