Birth and Childhood

Sr.Rani Maria was born on 29 January 1954 as the second child of Paily and Eliswa of Vattalil, in an ordinary peasant family. Her Baptism was on 5 February 1954 at St.Thomas Church Pulluvazhy and she was given the name ‘Mariam’ after Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus. The godparents were her uncle Varkey and grandmother Mariamma. Her God fearing parents brought her up in Christian faith and charity along with their six other children - Stephen, Annie, Varghese, Thressiamma, Celine and Lusy.  Celine would later followed her elder sister  Rani Maria and joined the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, assuming the name Selmy Paul.
Parents of Rani MariaMarykunju (“Little Mary,” pet name)  completed her Christian initiation by receiving the first Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation on 30 April 1966.  From her infancy her parents and grandparents made her understand the importance of prayer. Even at the young age, she regularly attended the Holy Mass and took part in the popular devotions. She frequented catechism lessons and practiced what she learned in her day today life.
Her brother Stephen speaks about her childhood, “She was a girl of few words; she needed only very simple clothes and did not show any interest in wearing ornaments. She never did anything to hurt anyone. If something unpleasant happened she felt sorry about it.” Her mother recalls, “She was different from other children and was exceptionally obedient child.”  Her parents had reason to be proud of her.
Her schooling started with the ‘Kalari’ (the traditional form of pre-primary education), in which she spent two years. She was then sent to the Government Lower Primary School at Pulluvazhy where she was enrolled as V.P.Mary. After her primary schooling, she joined Jayakeralam High School Pulluvazhy.  She also found time to help her father in the work of the fields and her mother in her domestic duties. She showed keen interest in and special love towards the servants and found time to chat with them.
   In view of a good result in Secondary School Leaving Certificate examination, her parents sent her to St.Joseph’s High School Tripunithura. Under the supervision and the guidance of the nuns, her life in the school and in the boarding turned out to be very conducive to her spiritual and intellectual growth. She completed her studies successfully.