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Bl. Rani Maria was killed for serving the poor in India


Wikipedia | Fair Use

Philip Kosloski - published on 02/28/24

Stabbed to death in 1995, Bl. Rani Maria was targeted for her work against a type of modern-day slavery in India.

Born to a simple peasant family in 1954, Mariam Vattalil joined the Franciscan Clarist Congregation after completing secondary school. After entering she assumed the name Rani Maria and professed her solemn vows in 1980. Sister Rani Maria wanted to become a missionary and served several poor communities in India.

In 1992 she was transferred to Indore and worked with the poor, oppressed and marginalized in that region. According to the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, “The developmental programs in which she was engaged for the poor tribals went counter to the vested interests of the unscrupulous moneylenders and social exploiters; she became the object of their hatred, which grew steadily in step with the progress of the poor. And her enemies decided to get rid of her.”

In particular Bl. Rani Maria worked against a type of bonded labor that is a modern-day form of slavery. The local money lenders and feudal lords saw her work as a threat to their institutions and decided to hire an assassin to kill her.

They hired a man named Samandhar Singh, who followed her and boarded a bus she was riding on in order to kill her. Singh stabbed her then and there in broad daylight and Bl. Rani Maria’s last word was “Jesus.”

Her family forgave Samandhar Singh and he was released from prison in 2006. He was also able to attend the beatification ceremony of Bl. Rani Maria in 2017.

A movie was released in 2023 detailing her life, called Face of the Faceless.

VaticanNews describes it as, “[a] movie depicts the nun’s story and her work to advocate for the betterment of humanity. The over two-hour-long film enjoys a wide cast of actors from across 16 states in India…The film has received widespread accolades and awards from national and international film societies. Reviews and videos have reached a remarkable amount in the short time since its release.”

Her example of selfless love continues to inspire many in India and around the world.

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