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22 years after murder, Kerala nun to be beatified

Killer thrilled: ‘proud of her, she got her due for good work’

Written by Shaju Philip , Milind Ghatwai | Thiruvananthapuram/bhopal | March 25, 2017 6:13:08 am

TWENTY-TWO years after Rani Maria was stabbed to death in Madhya Pradesh, allegedly for her missionary work among the downtrodden, the Vatican has sanctioned beatification of the Kerala-born Catholic nun. Post-beatification, she would be known as Blessed Rani Maria — “Blessed” is a stage below sainthood in Catholic Church.

In MP, the news has thrilled Samandar Singh, the man who stabbed her to death in a bus in 1995. “She deserves it. I am proud because she has got her due for doing good work,” Singh, now 49, told The Indian Express.

He said, “What I did was wrong. It has saddled me with a lifelong remorse – I repent for my deed and think about her in my prayers every day.”

In an official statement, the Syro-Malabar Church in Kochi said, “Pope Francis has approved the report of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints for promulgating the decree of Sr Rani Maria’s martyrdom.’’

In 2003, the Vatican had given the nod to begin the process of Sister Maria’s sainthood. In 2005, she was declared a “servant of God.’’

Singh said he cannot travel even if he is called to the Vatican City for the occasion, as he does not have a passport. He has not filed a fresh application for passport after his last application was turned down. “If the Vatican writes to the Government of India…maybe I will get a passport,’’ he said.

A member of Franciscan Clarist Congregation, Maria had gone to north India in 1975 on missionary activity. She was murdered on a bus at Udainagar in Madhya Pradesh — Maria, 41, was on her way home, to Kerala, at the time. Singh had allegedly killed her at the behest of landlords who were angered by her missionary work among the downtrodden.

On Friday, Sister Selmy Maria, the murdered nun’s sister, said, “We got official confirmation around 6 pm yesterday. I am proud of my sister.”

Singh was convicted and sentenced to a life term, but Selmy Maria, pained to see her sister’s murderer suffer in jail, contacted him at Indore jail and assured him that she and her family had forgiven him, according to reports.

Singh realised his crime, according to reports, and later visited Maria’s parents at the family’s home in Pulluvazhi village, in Ernakulam district. He sought their forgiveness, and as a gesture of love the parents had accepted him as their son.

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