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84-year-old nun killed in terroist raid on Mozambique Catholic mission

J-P Mauro - published on 09/09/22

Sister Maria De Coppi had served as a Catholic missionary in Mozambique for nearly 60 years.

An Italian nun was among the victims of a terrorist attack in the city of Chipene, Mozambique, on Tuesday. Sister Maria De Coppi was 84 years old and had served as a missionary in Mozambique since 1963

According to Reuters, a group of insurgents tore through Chipene while fleeing from a joint force of soldiers from Mozambique, Rwanda, and the Southern African Development Community. In a statement, Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi noted that they took the lives of Sr. Maria and six others before setting fires to residences

“On the 6th of September, as a result of terrorist attacks, six citizens were beheaded, three kidnapped, six terrorists were captured and dozens of houses torched in the districts of Erati and Memba, Nampula province,” Nyusi said.

The attack

Vatican News reports that the attack occurred in the late evening of September 6. The assailants gained entry to the compound of Comboni Mission of Chipene and entered the nun’s living quarters. It was then that they executed Sister Maria, shooting her in the head

After this they set fire to much of the mission facility, including the Catholic church, residence, and hospital. In the ensuing chaos, two other nuns and a priest were reported to have escaped the fire and the terrorists unscathed

Now, Sister Maria is being mourned by the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus. Sr. Enza Carini, Secretary General of the community, said in a statement: 

“Let us pray for the eternal rest of our Sister,” Sr. Enza Carini said. “She will certainly intercede for the Mozambican people and for peace in this country that she loved so much.”

Sister Maria

Sister Maria De Coppi is remembered for her unfaltering dedication to her mission, even in the face of armed conflict, which has plagued Mozambique for decades.

In a 2021 interview with the Italian publication L’Azione, Sr. Maria recalled being present in the nation for many armed conflicts and tending to the people of Nampula province throughout times of hardship. She said: 

“The last two years have been very hard. In the north of the country there is a war over gas fields and people are suffering and fleeing; in my parish there are 400 families who come from the war zone.” Sister Maria added, “I try to stay close to people, above all by listening to what they tell me. Despite material poverty, listening to others remains a great gift, it is recognizing their dignity,”

Vatican News has comments from Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI). Expressing his condolences, Cardinal Zuppi said: 

“We cry for another sister who with simplicity, dedication and silence offered her life for the love of the Gospel.” The cardinal added that he hopes Sister Maria’s sacrifice “will be a seed of peace and reconciliation in a land that, after years of stability, it is again plagued by violence, caused by Islamist groups that for some years have sowed terror and death in vast areas of the north of the country.”

Read more at Vatican News.

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