On the 25th of February,1995, Christians across the country watched with horror as news came in of the gruesome murder of a Franciscan Clarist nun in broad daylight.  On her way to Indore, the social worker nun was stabbed 54 times by her assailant in Indore.  For the first time that day the world heard the name of Sr. Rani Maria, Martyr.

  ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’(Acts 7:60). This prayer of the first martyr St. Stephen has been inscribed on the monument erected at the spot of her murder. It expresses her forgiving love.  A love that moved her sister, also a religious nun to visit the assailant Samundar Singh in prison and tie a ‘Rakhi’ on his wrist as a symbol of pardon. A love that prompted her mother to visit the jail and kiss the hands of the assassin and that too on her 8th death anniversary. A love that moved the heart of her killer to experience the forgiving love of Christ and repent.  The government released him from prison based on the family’s plea.

Sr. Rani Maria was killed because she upheld the rights of the poor and exploited people.  She died a martyr for human dignity. As Jesus taught ‘Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends  (Jn:15:13 ). God is pleased with the sacrifice of his daughter, as is evident in the numerous blessings that have been obtained through her intercession.

In less than a month from now, the 41-year-old Keralite nun will be beatified. As St. John Paul II said ‘The church of India will grow only in the blood of Christians’. Sr. Rani Maria’s beatification as a martyr may well signal that growth.

-Eileen Dennis