“Forgive those who hurt you…… this is what she used to chant”, said Sr. Selmy Paul (Sr. Rani Maria’s sibling); when she was asked on how she and her grieving family could forgive the man who scarred Sr. Rani Maria to death. The next in line to be beautified, this Franciscan Clarist nun, extensively worked among the poor and the downtrodden. But, none knew that this empathy would cost her, her life.
On, 25 February 1995; Sr. Rani Maria, with the intention of attending the early morning mass, set off to catch the bus to Indore, with Sr. Liza Rose who escorted her to the bus station. Since the buses were late, they decided against making it to the church; and this is when the honk of a bus named ‘Kapil’ stopped them. This sight gave immense joy to Sr. Rani Maria. She was excited to begin yet another day in the bosom of her Jesus. Nothing did she know, that her journey wouldn’t complete its course and that she will breathe her last in Nachanbore Hill, enroute Indore.
The local landlords and aristocrats were dreadfully against Sr. Rani Maria’s attempt of teaching and uplifting the weaker section of the society. Fearing a threat to their domination over the illiterate lower class villagers, it was these eminent and influential ones, who strategized the conspiracy. It was through their instructions that puppets like Jeevan Singh, Dharmendra and Samundar Singh partook in this crime, eventually raising the dignity and glory of our martyr.
When Sr. Rani Maria entered the bus, she found it mysterious that the occupants asked her to be seated in the latter seats, contradicting the usual tradition of offering them the former ones. As the journey began, Jeevan Singh started mocking her. In an impulse, Samundar Singh took up his weapon, walked upto her, and stabbed her in the stomach. He yelled at the driver to halt the bus. In a fit of rage, he dragged Sr. Rani Maria out of the bus to a nearby tree and bruised her to death. It was through the panicking passengers that the news spread like wildfire. Within three days, the Indore Police department successfully caught and arrested the culprit. The reburial (after forensic examination) took place on 18 November 2016 in Indore with the diocesan bishop overseeing the exhumation.
During his trial, Sr. Selmy Paul visited Samundar Singh in jail and kissed his hands as a symbol of forgiveness. Later, after his sentence was reduced due to the suffering parents of our martyr, he repented and plead mercy. Now, Samundar Singh is not less than their own, for the grieving family. As the world recognized Sr. Rani Maria’s sacrifice, Syro-Malabar church came to be known as an institution of love and offering. But with her parents forgiving, their daughter’s murderer, the church grew in respect and purity too. Through them, an example was set before the world.
Let us adopt the virtues of sanctity and readiness to surrender ourselves to God, from this Catholic nun, who taught us to lead a life accepting the knowledge of sufferings in life. In this lifetime, let us be an example of how an individual, despite all odds; can create a revolution in the making of a civilized society.