The list of India’s martyrs is impressive — from Thomas, the Apostle [1st c. CE ]; to the four Franciscan martyrs of Thane ; to the five Jesuit martyrs of Cuncolim, Goa [1583 ] to Gonzalo Garcia in distant Nagasaki ; to John de Brito in Oriyur [ 1693]; to Devasahayam of Kanyakumari.
And now to Blessed Rani Maria Vattatil, near Indore, central India, in 1995.
Blessed Rani Maria Vattatil was a Franciscan Clarist sister from Kerala who worked with tribal women for several years in central India. She was murdered because her work empowered women and the landless poor, and threatened the oppressive power structures in the area. Rani Maria was just 41 when killed.
In earlier times, martyrs witnessed their religious faith. Today the “witnessing” that martyrdom demands is much broader.
There are many today who espouse human rights, uplift the human spirit, take the side of the oppressed against vicious and dictatorial governments, agitate for freedom of speech and movement, and fight for the rule of law against the feudal practice and corporate lobbies — and they pay for this with their lives.
Blessed Rani Maria was one of these.