Pope invites reformed killer of nun to Rome

Details from Vatican Radio: 

Eighteen years after Samunder Singh stabbed and murdered a Catholic nun in northern India, the former prisoner has been invited to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican. Sr. Rani Maria was murdered in 1995.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for Family, invited Singh after the pope expressed his desire to meet him. Accompanying him will be a Catholic priest and a nun, the younger sister of the slain Rani Maria.

The priest, popularly known as Swami Sadanand, was instrumental in counseling Singh after the killing. The Carmelite of Mary Immaculate regularly met him in jail.

“I am excited after getting the news,” 40-year old Singh told ucanews.com. He stabbed the Franciscan Clarist nun 54 times and left her to die on a road side at the behest of some landlords who had opposed her work among poor farm laborers. Singh was just 22 when he committed the crime. He was subsequently arrested and sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life term. Singh, who with the guidance of the Catholic priest became a Christian while serving a 12-year jail term, is busy preparing his travel documents.

The invitation to the Vatican is to attend a special screening of a documentary on the killing, called The Heart of a Murderer, by award winning Australian-Italian director Catherine McGilvray.

The documentary depicts the murder, Singh’s conversion and his acceptance by the murdered nun’s family. McGilvray, in an interview, said when she first heard the story, she was moved by the images of “the mother kissing her daughter’s murderer and of the assassin becoming like a real brother to the sister of his victim.”

Pope Francis was reportedly moved by the film.

The family of the slain nun had publically forgiven him and accepted him as one of their family members. Every year on the Hindu festival of siblings, the sister of Rani Maria ties a rakhi, or ceremonial thread, onto Singh. The ritual is a common practice among siblings.

The murdered nun was declared a Servant of God, the first major step toward canonization, in 2007.

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