Beatification of Sr. Rani Maria

Sister Rani Maria F.C.C, who died a martyr’s death, 22 years ago, has been cleared for beatification by the Holy Father Pope Francis.

During an audience on Thursday with Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Holy Father authorized the ‘Congregation for the Causes of Saints’, to promulgate the decree of the martyrdom of Servant of God Regina Mariam Vattalil (Sr. Rani Maria).

Beatification is the penultimate stage in the four-phased canonization process in the Catholic Church. Rani Maria’s cause of canonization began in 2003 and was declared a Servant of God.

Mariam Vattalil, was born on January 29, 1954, as the second of seven children of Paily and Eliswa Vattalil in Pulluvazhy, a small village near to Perumbavoor, Ernakulam-Kochi, Kerala, India.

She joined Franciscan Clarist Congregation in 1972 and began her formation at Kidangoor near Angamaly. She made her first profession on May 1, 1974, and chose the name Rani Maria. She began her religious life in the missions of northern India; in Bijnor in 1975 and came to Udainagar in 1992.

Sr. Rani Maria, during her years in the mission, showed an admirable and keen interest in educating children through formal and non-formal methods to give much wider fields of development of the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized.

Samandar Singh was hired and on February 25, 1995 he stabbed Rani Maria while travelling in a bus. She was on her way from Indore to her native place Pulluvazhy. The attacker stabbed her in a crowded bus. When she fell down, he dragged her out of the bus, while he continued to pierce her brutally with knife. She died of 54 stab wounds on the roadside at Nachanbore Hill, near Indore.

She was buried at Udaingar in Dewas district where she had worked among poor landless agricultural laborers and had fought for just wages and other rights.

Sr. Rani Maria’s family showed a marvelous example of Christian forgiveness, which was lauded internationally, when it accepted Samandar Singh as a member of their family, after forgiving him.

Rani Maria’s young sister Selmy Paul, also a member of the same Religious Congregation, accepted Singh as her brother by tying “rakhi,” a sacred thread, on the festival of siblings Rakshabandan.

Rani Maria’s mother Eliswa accepted him as her son in the place of her daughter. These gestures of Sr. Selmy, Mother Eliswa, other members of the family and of the village made Samandar Singh to regret about his criminal action. He now leads a life of repentance in his village in central India. He visits occasionally Rani Maria’s tomb and her family in Pulluvazhy. He also attended the funeral of the mother of Sr. Rani Maria in September 2016.

According the text of approval of the Roman Congregation Sr. Rani Maria’s courageous sacrifice and martyrdom has helped to sow “the seed of love and justice and brotherhood in many hearts.”A documentary, “The Heart of a Murderer,” which depicts the murder and subsequent repentance of Samandar Singh, won an award at the World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival in 2013.