Sr. Rani Maria was born to Paily and Eliswa of the Vattalil family in the small village of Pulluvazhy, near to the city of Kochi and Perumbavoor town, in the state of Kerala. Her birth name was Mary and was fondly called as Marykunju. Born on 29th January 1954, she was the second child from the family of seven children. Her siblings were Stephen, Annie, Varghese, Thressiamma, Celine (Sr. Selmy Paul) and Lucy. Sr. Rani Maria was baptized on 05th February. Her Godparents were her uncle Varkey and her grandmother Mariamma. Sr. Rani Maria was a simple and obedient child. Her brother Stephen quotes her being a girl of few words, who did not show any interests in outward appearances. She would always try to help someone and not hurt them. Her Mother beamed with pride when speaking of her daughter, that Marykunju was different from her other children and was an exceptionally obedient child.
Sr. Rani Maria grew up in a strong environment of prayer and devotion. She received her first Holy Communion in 1961 and the Sacrament of Confirmation in 1966. She grew up to be a child who showed great interests in taking part in Mass and the other forms of devotion. She looked forward to going to Church. She would attend the catechism classes devotedly. Sr. Bosco, the then superior of the Franciscan Clarist Convent, Pulluvazhy said that Sr. Rani Maria was a good-natured girl. Sr. Rani Maria began her education with the Kalari for two years. She then joined the Lower Primary School in Pulluvazhy. A smart student and performed well in all her studies and sports. She was good in all her subjects. Later, she joined the Jayakeralam High School which was managed by P. Govindappillai. The knowledge and wisdom she received from her educators there helped her to grow bountifully. Even then, she enjoyed working with her parents and helping them out to the best of her abilities, be it in the field or household chores. She would joke with her brother that needn’t study so much for its of no use and must do some work first and then study.
Sr. Rani Maria’s parents decided to send her to St. Joseph’s High School, Trippunithura after she received a good result in her SSLC examination. Her friend Philo (Sr. Philcy) was already studying at the institute. The nurture and guidance she received from the nuns, the environment in the school and hostel was conducive to her spiritual and intellectual growth. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1982 from the Bhopal University and her Master’s Degree in the same in 1989 from Riva University, successfully.