Sr Rani Maria FCC - martyr - 1954-1995, a star of discipleshiphttp://fccongregation.org/rani.asp"I am ready to die for them because they are children of God"
(Sr Rani Maria)Sister Rani’s murderer now says, “Christians are India’s hope”
Samandar Singh killed a nun in 1995. After that, he converted to Christianity and today he is a different man. He helps Tribals and for him Sister Rani’s family has become his own. Sadly, he agrees that a climate of anti-Christian hatred is currently sweeping across India.
He urges his compatriots to see the truth in the presence of missionaries in the country.
Madhya Pradesh, Udaya Nagar: “I accept full responsibility for my heinous murder of Sr Rani Maria. I cannot say that I was instigated, because my own hands stabbed her repeatedly and for this I will regret my actions till the day I die,”
Samandar Singh told AsiaNews. He is the man who on 25 February 1995 stabbed to death Sister Rani Maria. The diocese of Indore, where she worked, has ended the diocesan leg of the inquiry into her death. Now the Vatican will have to decide whether she died a martyr of the faith or not. Whatever the outcome of that will be, Sister Rani Maria has already accomplished a miracle. Her assassin has repented and has become a member of her family. “In my own small way,” he said, “I try to follow her example, helping those who are less fortunate than me, like Tribal Christians and all those who are marginalised.”
After his arrest in connection with the nun’s murder, he was tried and sentenced to prison, where he spent 11 years. During that time, his wife divorced him and his first son died.
Behind prison walls, he began plotting how he could take revenge against the man who pushed him to kill the nun. But he also received a visit from another nun, Sister Selmi Paul, who happened to be the murdered nun’s own sister. She hugged him and called him brother. He was profoundly touched by it, so much so that from this embrace his journey of repentance began. He gave up plans for revenge and accepted the sorrow caused by the murder. Eventually, Samandar was released because of a petition signed by Sister Rani’s family, the provincial of the Clarist congregation and the bishop of Indore. When his release was slow in coming, a delegation went to see the local governor to plead his case.
“Only you Christians can truly forgive,” the latter said. “You are a great example. Go, I shall do all I can to get him released.”
Once he was free again, Samandar began to treat Sister Rani’s family as his own. “I regularly visit her tomb,” he said. “For me, it is like a sanctuary of peace and strength.” “I want everyone to know that Christians work to make India great. The missionaries give us hope through their service, which is to make us a strong and independent people.”
He does realise though that India’s rightwing hate Christians. “Before they drove me to kill, I heard so many hate-filled lies about the missionaries and Christians. They used to tell me that Christians converted people through tricks and that their work with the poor was only for show. Now however I can say without a doubt that the missionaries do nothing but work and help the poor and the marginalised. They have not secret design, other than serve God.”
Sr Rani's murderer - Samandar Singh (center) - now a baptized Catholic, with her family members.
On February 25, 1995, Sr. Rani was on a bus bound for Kerala. A hired murderer in the bus stabbed Sr. Rani repeatedly. The bus stopped, and the people left out of fear. Then, he dragged Sr. Rani outside the bus and continued stabbing her until she died. She died crying out the name of Jesus. She died in the midst of the people, many of whom she knew, some of them whom she did help. But they could not do anything. The murderers abandoned her body and ran away.
About 12,000 people took part in Sr. Rani’s funeral. Because of Sr. Rani’s death, the missionaries gained the trust of the people and found it easier to work with them. In the year 2002, the nuns visited Sr. Rani’s murderer, who was in prison. It was the day before the feast of "Rakshabandhan'. 'Rakshabandhan' is a feast of sisters. A sister would tie 'Rakhi' (hand ring) on her brother's hand and the brother assumes the responsibility to protect his sister. This ceremony fosters the love and unity between brothers and sisters. Sr. Selmy, Sr. Rani’s sister, tied the rakhi on the hands of the murderer as a sign of forgiveness. They ate together, and Sr. Selmy assured the murderer that she forgives him.
Sr. Rani once said, “I am deeply convinced that I am called to work for the poor and the oppressed. I am ready to die for them because they are children of God and as such our sisters and brothers.”
Lots of miracles happen through Sr Rani Maria, the Servant of God. Let us pray for the patronage of her who lived the life of the Gospel and ultimately became the good news itself. ThisBearing the torch of service,
Walking through the villages in Madhya Pradesh,
You did well to the poorest.
You who were born in the Vattalil family,
The daughter of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation,
Who were torn apart by the brutal bigots
Thereby ascending the glorious throne of martyrdom,
Have kept alive The lamp of faith lit by the Apostle.
Oh Rani Maria, the noble martyr
How glorious is your death!
How meaningful has been your life!
Oh the flower that reigns in heaven
Praises galore from this memoir!
For complete story and the photo of Samandar Singh, with Sr Rani's family,http://christtotheworld.blogspot.com/2010/04/sister-rani-maria-martyr-of-faith.html
Keep us in your prayers, close to Mother Mary and united with Jesus our Lord.
a child of Mary