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Thursday 21 January |
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Saint of the Day: Blessed Rani Maria Vattalil

Murdered for advocating for the poor

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Religious Sister and Martyr (1954-1995)

Her life

+ Mariam was born in Pulluvazhy, Kerala, Inida. Born into the Syro-Malabar Rite of the Catholic Church, she entered the Franciscan Clarist Sisters in 1971, after having completed her secondary studies. She was known in religious life as “Rani Maria.”

+ Following her profession of religious vows in 1974, she served as a teacher in her congregation’s school in Binjor.

+ In the years that followed, Rani Maria served in various religious houses, holding various positions within the community. In 1992, she completed a degree in sociology and was transferred to Undayanagar later that year.

+ On February 25, 1995, Rani Maria was brutally murdered by a hired hitman in a knife attack on a bus near the town of Indore. The assassination had been arranged by local landlords who were angered by the sisters’ advocacy on behalf of the landless poor.

+ Blessed Rani Maria Vattalil was immediately hailed as a martyr and was beatified in 2017.

For prayer and reflection

There is a power within which moves me forward courageously in the midst of opposition, failure, troubles and difficulties. It is nothing else but the power of the Spirit of God. I have the strong conviction that I am chosen for the poor and oppressed. … I am happy to work for them because they are also God’s children, our brothers and sisters.”—Blessed Rani Maria Vittalil

Spiritual bonus

In 1958, recognizing an increase in devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, Pope Pius XII designated “Shrove Tuesday” (the day before Ash Wednesday) as the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus. Originally inspired by the various representations of “Veronica’s Veil,” this devotion has come to be associated with the Shroud of Turin in more recent years.


O God, who gladden us today with the annual commemoration of blessed Rani Maria, graciously grant that we may be helped by her merits, just as our lives are lit up by the splendor of her example of chastity and fortitude. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For a Virgin-Martyr)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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