Since 25th February 1995, the day of Sr. Rani Marias martyrdom we shall recall and acknowledge the divine intervention in each step of the beatification process. First of all, we pay our tributes to late Bishop George Anathil SVD, the Bishop of Indore. On that day during the discussion regarding the funeral, His Excellency promptly prophesied; “I have a strong suggestion that she lived, worked and died here in Udainagar, so she has to be buried in Udainagar, and it will become a pilgrim centre, many people will come and pray, she will become a blessing and she will keep on blessing the people”. Yes, the beatification of Sr. Rani Maria Vattalil fcc, on 4 November 2017 is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Bishop George Anathil.
On 28th August 2002, when Rev. Fr. Luca de Rosa OFM was appointed, as the Postulator of the process of beatification of Sr. Rani Maria, he accepted the responsibility with great hope and enthusiasm. He studied the cause fully and thoroughly and encouraged everyone to go ahead courageously. He shared his expertise and experience for this cause generously till his death on 25 April 2009.May God reward him for his pioneering work of this cause.
Sr. Dr. Bincy Therese Kottackal FCC has done the most hectic work of writing the ‘Positio’ of this process. Her doctoral studies on martyrdom became a preparation to write the ‘Positio’ of Sr Rani Maria Vattalil. We appreciate very much her prayerful way of searching the wisdom and commitment for the cause.
The spontaneous fame of Sr. Rani Marias martyrdom spread far and wide. The shocking news became the headlines of all the newspapers in different languages. On 27 February 1995, Requiem Mass was offered in St. Francis Cathedral, Indore, consisting of seven Bishops, hundreds of Priests and religious along with thousands of lay people. The funeral procession was followed by 125 vehicles from Indore to Udayanagar covering 102 kms. The funeral ceremony officiated by Rt.Rev.Bishop George Anathil was attended by around 12000 people. In the holy year 2000, the fifth death anniversary of Sr. Rani Maria was celebrated in Pulluvazhy, her native parish with the participation of people from far and wide. A graceful museum was erected in Pulluvazhi is 2001.
The reputation of the sanctity and the martyrdom of Rani Maria and the reports of the favours received through her intercession, and the divine intervention experienced in the following procedures after her death gave the inspiration to begin her beatification process. After a long reflection and study, the General Plenary Council of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation held from 21 to 24 July 2002 at Portiuncula, FCC Generalate Aluva, decided to begin the cause of Sr. Rani Maria Vattalil FCC who was murdered for witnessing the Gospel.
Appointment of the Postulator and the Vice Postulators: On 28 August 2002, Rev. Sr. Marianna, the Superior General of the FCC, as per the decision taken in the General Council, appointed Fr. Luca M. De Rosa OFM, as the postulator of the cause of the beatification of Sr. Rani Maria Vattalil FCC. He appointed Rev. Sr. Starly Koluthara FCC and Rev. Sr. Rosily Parekkattil FCC, as the vice postulators of the cause on 16 January 2003. At the demise of Fr. Luca M. De Rosa OFM, the postulator general, on 25th April 2009, Fr. Giovangiuseppe Califano OFM, continued as the postulator of the Cause.
Notification of Starting the Cause: - The Bishop of Indore, Most Rev. George M. Anathil gave the notification of starting the Diocesan Tribunal Inquiry for the cause of Sr. Rani Maria Vattalil on 25 February 2003, on the anniversary celebration of her martyrdom. The initiation of the cause was written in the March-April issue of the diocesan Magazine, Rachana. The bishops of the other dioceses of the region were also consulted and received a positive response.
Nihil Obstat(noc) from the Congregation: - On 26 September 2003 the Congregation for the Cause of Saints issued the declaration, Nihil Obstat for beatification and declaration of the martyrdom of the Servant of God, Rani Maria Vattalil, with the Prot. N. 2553-1/03.
Theological Commission:- On 10 July 2003, Most Rev. George M. Anathil, the Bishop of Indore appointed the theological commission members, Fr. Henry Angel, sac, Professor of Moral Theology and Canon Law and Fr. Joseph Chirapuram, Professor of Moral and Spiritual Theology to go through the published writings of the Servant of God. There were only two published articles of the Servant of God and they studied these articles and submitted their report separately in 2003.
Historical Commission:- Rev. Dr. George Anathil, the Bishop of Indore by a decree dated on 15 July 2003, constituted the Historical Commission consisting of three members - Fr. Clarence Srambical, svd, (Convener); Fr. Mathai Thadavanal, and Fr. Lucas Isidore. They visited all the places where the Servant of God had lived and interviewed the people and investigated the archives, relating to her. They submitted the consolidated report on 20 December 2006.
Diocesan Inquiry and Its Opening Session:- Rt. Rev. Dr. George Anathil, the Bishop of Indore, after the initial enquires and consultations with his fellow Bishops of the Region, constituted the Diocesan Board of Inquiry by a Decree dated 1 June 2005. He appointed the following persons as the members and officers of the Diocesan Inquiry. Rev. Fr. Jolly John Pulickal was appointed as the Episcopal Delegate, Rev.Fr. Michael John Cosmos as the Promoter of Justice, Rev. Fr. Rajesh Abraham Anathil as Notary, Rev. Sr. Wency Pakalomattom FCC and Rev.Sr. Rose Mathew Kolamkanny FCC as Vice Notary. On 27 June 2005 Most Rev. George M.Anathil appointed Rev. Sr. Ladis Karikuzhi FCC as Translator, Rev. Sr. Jainy George Vithayathil FCC, and Rev. Sr. Shanti Jose Kizhakethuruthel FCC as the Copyist.
Inauguration of the Diocesan Tribunal
On 29 June 2005, his Excellency, Most Rev. George M. Anathil, the Bishop of Indore, inaugurated the opening session of the Diocesan Inquiry on the Servant of God, Sr. Rani Maria Vattalil, FCC, presided over by Rev. Fr. Jolly John Pulickal- Episcopal Delegate, Rev. Fr. Michael John Cosmas - Promoter of Justice and Rev. Fr. Rajesh Abraham Anathil - Notary, Rev. Sr. Wency FCC and Rev. Sr. Rose Mathew FCC, - Vice Notaries and the tribunal members officially took their oath. Rev. Sr. Starly Koluthara FCC, after having exhibited the mandate of her appointment as the Vice- Postulator of the said cause presented the petition for the initiation of the Diocesan Inquiry into the life, martyrdom and non-cult of the Servant of God. A Rogatory Inquiry was conducted in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly.
Rogatory Inquiry:- Since many of the witnesses were originally from Kerala, considering the language and their convenience, Bishop George Anathil requested, His Excellency, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, by a letter dated on 3 July 2005, to constitute Ernakulam-Angamaly Rogatory. Thus the Major Archbishop His Beatitude Varkey VIthayathil Cardinal of Ernakulam-Angamaly constituted a Rogatory Inquiry on 16 July 2005 and appointed the following persons for the Rogatory Diocesan Inquiry:
Rev.Fr.ThomasVithayathil Episcopal Delegate Rev.Fr.BerchmansKodackal Promoter of Justice Rev.Sr.RoseMathew Kolamkanny Notary. All the above mentioned members of the board of Inquiry took the oath on 17 July 2005 before the Auxiliary Bishop Mar Rev. Thomas Chakiath. They heard the testimonies of 22 witnesses, consisting of family members, relatives, the formators and the batch mates who were trained with the Servant of God in Ernakulam Province and a few other witnesses working in North India. This Rogatory Tribunal was concluded on 23 September 2006. The collected testimonies of 22 Witnesses were submitted to the Indore Diocesan tribunal.
Two Depositions on the Provision of “ne pereant probationes”:- Among the 24 testimonies in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Rogatory, two are extra-ordinary witnesses. The serious illness of those two witnesses - Sr. Liza Rose FCC (17 December 2003), the then Local Superior of the Servant of God during her murder and Mr. Paily Vatallil, the father of the Servant of God ( 30th July 2007) – their testimonies were collected. On 15th December 2003, Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, at the request of the Most Rev. George Anathil, the Bishop of Indore appointed a special commission consisting of Dr. Jose Chiramel as the Episcopal Delegate, and Sr. Rose Mathew FCC, as the notary to collect the testimony of Sr. Liza Rose FCC. It was providential that the commission could juridically collect the valuable testimony of Sr. Liza Rose on 16 December 2003 itself, from 4 .00 to 6.30 pm on her death bed and the very the very next day she slept in the Lord.
On 2 January 2004, Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, at the request of the Most Rev. George Anathil, the Bishop of Indore once again appointed the above commission to collect the testimony of Mr. Paily Vatallil, the father of Rani Maria, who was seriously ill. The commission juridically collected his valuable testimony on 9 January 2004.
Witnesses in the Tribunal: - The Diocesan Tribunal did the enquiry of 64 witnesses. In that 40 witnesses were heard in the Indore Diocesan Tribunal and 24 in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Rogatory. The witnesses were from four dioceses (Ernakulam, Bijnor, Satna, Indore) belonging to three states, namely Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. They were the family members of the Servant of God (6), Local Bishop (1), Priests – diocesan and religious (16), the religious sisters – FCC and the other Congregations (24), lay persons (9), Hindus – the assassin, an eye-witness of the murder and others (8). Considering the background of the witnesses, the judicial enquiry had to use three languages - Hindi, Malayalam and English.
Concluding Session of the Diocesan Phase:- Indore Diocesan Inquiry which inaugurated on 29 June 2005 and lasted for two years had its concluding session on 28th June 2007. In the presence of the Most Rev. Pascal Topno, Archbishop of Bhopal, duly delegated to preside over the closing session by Most Rev. George Anathil, Bishop of Indore, temporarily indisposed and in the presence of several other bishops, clergy, religious and Christian faithful.
The presiding Archbishop Pascal Topno observed that the formalities foreseen by law for the closing session were fulfilled and ordered that all the packages containing the documents be closed and sealed. Then the Notary, Rev. Fr. Rajesh Abraham Anathil read out the minutes of all that took place during this concluding session. Whereupon the Episcopal Delegate, and the Promoter of Justice, and Vice Postulator, the designated courier signed and affixed their seals. Sr. Starly Koluthara FCC, the Vice Postulator and the designated courier duly sent the six boxes containing the documents of the Diocesan Inquiry to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints through the Apostolic Nunciature, Delhi on 2 July 2007.
On 13th November 2007 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints opened the Acts of the Diocesan Process. In June 2009, the Copia Pubblica, containing of 10 volumes,was handed over to Giovangiuseppe Califano, ofm, the postulator. On 27 November 2009, the Congregation for the Cause of Saints declared the Juridical Validity of the Diocesan Tribunal .On 26 May 2010, Rev. Fr. Daniel Ols, O.P, was appointed as the Relator of the Cause and the nomination of Sr. Bincy Therese Kottackal FCC as the external collaborator was accepted. She wrote the Positio and gave to the congregation for the Cause of Saints in 2014 on 9 February 2016 the Congress of Theological consulters voiced their approval to the cause.
As part of the Diocesan inquiry, Exhumation and Reburial of the mortal remains of Servant of God Rani Maria was conducted on 18th November 2016 at Udainagr, Indore under the direction of Rt.Rev. Dr.Chacko Thottumarickal the Competent Bishop, in collaboration with the Actor of the Cause, Rev.Mother Ann Joseph FCC, the Superior General. The report of the same was sent to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, subsequently concluded the Indore Diocesan Tribunal on Servant of God Rani Maria Vattalil.
In the meeting on 21 March 2017, the Ordinary Session of Cardinals and Bishops under the presidency of Cardinal Angelo Amato, recognized that the Servant of God was killed out of hatred of faith.
In the long history of the beatification process of the Servant of God, Sr. Rani Maria Vattalil, fcc, the postulator general Rev. Fr. Luca de Rosa (25 April 2009), and the Bishop of Indore, the Most Rev. George M. Anathil (2 May 2009), who served selflessly at the initial stages of the beatification process of the Servant of God are gone to receive their eternal reward. Now the Cause is followed by Giovangiuseppe Califano, ofm, as the postulator general.
Through the key role played by late Rev.Fr.Swami Sadanand CMI Rani Maria’s younger sister Selmy Paul FCC visited Samundar in the jail and accepted him as her brother by tying “rakhi,” a sacred thread, on the festival of Rakshabandan. Sister Selmy Paul’s gesture helped Singh to regret his action. The slain nun’s family made international headlines when it accepted Mr.Samundar Singh as its member after forgiving him. He now leads an exemplary life in his village in central India. A documentary, “The Heart of a Murderer,” which depicts the murder and subsequent repentance of Singh, won an award at the World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival in 2013.
Declaration of the beatification
During an audience on Thursday, 23 March 2017 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, the Holy Father Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, among others, to promulgate the decree of the Martyrdom of Servant of God Regina Mariam Vattalil (Rani Maria), killed in hatred of faith on 25 February 1995.
We the FCC Family raise our hearts and minds in all humility before the Lord Almighty for this marvelous gift granted to the entire Catholic Church specially, the Indian Church. It is indeed a great sign of recognition for the sacrifices endured by the missionaries. Her life and martyrdom is the authentic source of inspiration and challenge for all those who have accepted the missionary mandate “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and Of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt.28:19-20)