A Vatican emissary on behalf of Pope Francis will travel to Bhopal to proclaim nun Rani Maria Vattali, who was brutally stabbed to death 22 years back, as a ‘martyr’ for beatification.
The beatification of sister Rani, as she was lovingly known as, is to be held in Bhopal on November 4, 2017.
Sister Rani was a member of the Syro-Malabar Franciscan Clarist Congregation, who in Madhya Pradesh was working closely with the poor and downtrodden, trying to save them from the vicious grips of moneylenders and landlords. This did not augur well for the rich and landed class, which resulted in her being brutally stabbed on 25 February, 1995, while trying to board a bus in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh.
The 41-year-old nun was mercilessly stabbed over fifty times by a hired assassin named Samunder Singh.
It was after six years, in 2001, that a committee chaired by Indore Bishop George Anathil initiated the cause of sister Rani’s martyrdom. He set up two panels, theological and historical, to examine the various facets of her life. The committee found her to have led a pious and heroic life of Christian virtue and, hence, fit to be elevated as a ‘martyr’.
In a long process that lasted for about 14 years, the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints reviewed the information about sister Rani, after which the Pope declared her “venerable”.
It is only after this declaration that a deceased nun is beatified. After beatification of martyrdom, a nun becomes eligible for sainthood. However, in case of the canonization of sainthood, a miracle is required but such is not necessary for martyrdom.