Act of Forgiveness

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”(Acts 7:60). This prayer of the Proto martyr St. Stephen has been inscribed on the monument built at the spot where she was murdered.  It expresses her forgiving love.
Powerful expression of this forgiving love was given by Rani Maria’s younger sister, Sr.Selmy Paul FCC, in what became national news.  On 21st August 2002, rightly interpreting the mind of her elder sister, Sr. Selmy visited Samundhar Singh,  the assassin of Rani Maria, in the Indore Central Jail.  She was accompanied by her religious superior as well as Rev.Fr. Michael Sadanand CMI engaged in prison ministry.  That day was the day of “Rakshabandhan” [knot of protection], an annual feast held among the Hindus to consolidate a sacred relationship between brothers and sisters. The sister would tie ‘Rakhi’, a decorated thread, on her brother’s wrist and he assumes responsibility to protect her. Overwhelmed by this unexpected gesture, Samundar Singh asked forgiveness of Sr. Selmy and expressed his repentance.
On the occasion of the eighth death anniversary of Sr.Rani Maria, 25th February 2003, her mother Eliswa visited the jail and kissed the hands of her daughter’s assassin.  No gesture of forgiveness could have been more eloquent. The FCC superiors, who accompanied her also expressed their forgiveness. This captured the attention of the mass media and the news of Christ’s forgiveness has spread far and wide.  Again most recently, on 13th August 2003, the day of ‘Rakshabandhan’ Sr.Selmy tied ‘Rakhi’ for the second time, thus deepening her relationship with Samundar Singh; in return he handed her a letter written in his own hand with ‘Jai Krist’ (Glory to Christ) inscribed at the top.  The letter expresses his experience of peace and joy after receiving her forgiveness.  The media have given this event extensive coverage in a manner no Christian publication could ever have hoped to achieve. Thus Rani Maria continues her mission as evangeliser even more efficaciously after her death.

In conclusion one may recall the significant words of John Paul II during his apostolic visit to India in December 1999. “The Church of India will grow only in the blood of Christians.” Sr. Rani Maria’s beatification as a martyr may well signal that growth.