Daily Saints

– 25 February.

Feast of Blessed Rani Maria Vattalil.

Patronage of Aid workers, Missionaries.Mariam Vattalil was born in Kerala, India on 29 January 1954.

She was the second of seven children to Paily and Eliswa Vattalil.Mariam Vattalil joined the Franciscan Clarist Congregation following the completion of her secondary schooling and assumed the religious name of “Rani Maria” upon joining and entering their novitiate.

The motto of her life was: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach the Good News to the poor” (Lk.4:18). Imbued with the motto and filled with the mission spirit she worked in the Missions of Bijnor (1975-1983), Oadgady (1983-1992), and Udainagar (1992-1995). Having realized her call within the call Rani Maria wrote: “I am deeply convinced that I am called to work for the poor and the oppressed. I am ready to die for them because they are children of God and as such our sisters and brothers” After several transfers, she received a degree in sociology from Rewa university and settled in Udayanagar. Mariam dedicated herself to the poor and social justice reforms.

She would especially help the landless poor who were often treated more as slaves than servants. In town, she organized women into self-help groups and aided the poor in financial planning to help save them from vicious local money lenders. Her love for the poor fructified through various mission activities aimed at the individual and social upliftment of the tribal people. However concurrently it went counter to the vested interests of the unscrupulous money-lenders and social exploiters which at last resulted in her martyrdom.

She attained the Crown of Martyrdom on 25 February 1995 when Samundar Singh murdered her in a bus in which she was traveling to Indore as she was on her way to Pulluvazhy on Vacation. According to the Police she was stabbed 54 times (40 stab wounds and 14 bruises) in front of more than 50 bus passengers in a jungle area near Udainagar (Madhya Pradesh) allegedly at the behest of moneylenders affected by the nun’s social work among village women, who were organizing self-help groups. As he continued to stab, the 41-year-old nun continued repeating one word: “Jesus”.

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