Victims of persecution in Odisha pray with the Pope for the end of the pandemic
by Purushottam Nayak

Jesinta Nayak, a survivor of Hindu extremist violence, said that the intercession of Mother Mary can help overcome the current ordeal. Today is a day of fasting and prayer against COVID-19, as announced by Card Oswald Gracias, president of the Bishops' Conference.

Kandhamal (AsiaNews) – In India, many Catholic have joined Pope Francis in his call to pray the Rosary for the end of the pandemic, including survivors of anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal district (Odisha), scene of the pogrom by Hindu extremists in 2007 and 2008.

Jesinta Nayak, 40, was one of the victims of the attacks that hit her village of Raikia, Kandhamal. It is with the gaze of those who saw the Hand of the Lord protect their lives that she also looks to the new ordeal.

“Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons God has given me,” she said. “I believe in Jesus who can eradicate the deadly coronavirus from the world through the intercession of Mother Mary,” she added.

Card Oswald Gracias, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), has called for a national day of fasting and prayer to invoke God’s protection from COVID-19, in communion with the anti-pandemic Rosary campaign launched by Pope Francis for the month of May.

Right in the village church in Raikia, priests from the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar offered the Eucharist with the intention of overcoming the coronavirus.

Jesinta, along with her father Deboduto Nayak and Sadhona Nayak, also knelt confidently in prayer in front of the chapel of Our Lady of Charity, which had been destroyed during the pogrom.

Pradosh Chandra Nayak, vicar general of the archdiocese, led the service. “God does not abandon us in this time of trial,” he said. “He is the almighty. The coronavirus is nothing before God. Our Lord is great and he understands without measure”.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar has already mourned the death of two of its priests due to the coronavirus: the former Vicar General Prassana Pradhan and Father Bimal Nayak, a priest with the Indian Missionary Society.

More than 20 Catholic priests, bishops and archbishops have fallen victim to the pandemic during the ongoing second wave that is ravaging the country. The number of cases and deaths is constantly rising.