An Indian nun stabbed to death in 1995 will be beatified today (4th November), and one of those who will celebrate is her assassin.
Clarist Sr Rani Maria Vattalil, 41, was stabbed in front of more than 50 bus passengers on a remote jungle track in Madhya Pradesh state as she was on her way home to Kerala state to visit.
Samandar Singh, then 22, murdered her on behalf of money lenders upset with Sr Rani Maria’s work setting up self-help groups in the Diocese of Indore. Singh has since been forgiven by the nun’s family and was released from prison.
“Whatever happened has happened. I am sad and sorry about what I did. But now I am happy that the world is recognising and honouring Sr Rani,” Singh, a Hindu, told Catholic News Service.
Singh was convicted of the murder and initially was sentenced to death; the sentence was later commuted to life in prison. He said Sr Rani Maria’s younger sister – Clarist Sr Selmy – formally accepted him as her “brother” while he was in prison and facilitated his early release. Court officials agreed to the release in 2006 after mandatory declarations were signed by Sr Selmy, her parents and Church officials.
When Sr Selmy was preparing to return home to southern Kerala state in January 2007 to visit her ailing 82-year-old father, Paul Vattalil, Singh accompanied the nun an apologised to her parents.
“I am now eagerly waiting for the big day,” Singh told CNS.
Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore told CNS the beatification of Sr Rani Maria “will be an inspiration for those serving the needy and poor in difficult circumstances in the country.”
“Sr Rani Maria challenges all to carry on their work even if there is opposition and not to get disheartened by obstacles,” added Bishop Thottumarickal.
Sr Selmy called the beatification “a miracle.”
“Sr Rani urges us all to go forward fearlessly,” said Sr Selmy, who serves in a remote village in Uttar Pradesh state.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, will preside over the beatification. Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India, will lead the thanksgiving Mass tomorrow, (5th November) at Udainagar, 25 miles from Indore.
Picture: Samandar Singh, who killed Clarist Sr Rani Maria Vattalil Maria in 1995, is flanked by Clarist Sr Selmy Vattalil and Stephen Vattalil, elder brother of both the nuns, in 2015 at Sr Rani Maria’s tomb in Udainagar, India. Sr Rani Maria will be beatified today (4th November). (CNS photo/Anto Akkara).