Bhopal: A 69-year-old Catholic priest in central India is busy getting passports ready for him as well as his Hindu “disciple” to travel to Rome to meet Pope Francis.
A letter from the Vatican curia Swami Sadanand received on Monday through a priest friend’s email address said the Pope expressed the desire to meet him and Samunder Singh after watching a documentary film on a Catholic nun who was murdered in 1995.
Also invited to Rome is the slain nun’s younger sister Sister Selmy whose act of forgiveness changed Singh’s attitude life.
The Vatican has set the first week of March 2014 for the meeting, Fr Josen P Antony, a Carmelite of Mary Immaculate (CMI) priest attached to a Catholic communication center in Bhopal, told Matters India on Tuesday.
The young priest said Swami Sadanand has no passport and is now facing problem getting one. “He has not made passport all these years. He does not have any documents needed for applying for passport. So, he has gone to meet the district collector to get his special letter to process the passport application,” he added.
The Pope wants to meet Swami Sadanand, a CMI priest, because he was instrumental for the conversion of Singh, who spent 12 years in jail after murdering Sister Rani Maria. 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.
The film, “The Heart of a Murderer,” by award-winning Australian-Italian director Catherine McGilvray narrates the story of horrible crime and wonderful power of forgiveness and love.
Swami Sadanand, a CMI priest and founder of Sachidananda Ashram (monastery of eternal bliss) in Narasinghpur, a town in Madhya Pradesh state, used to visit Singh in the jail. Singh repented his crime after Sister Selmy, also a Franciscan Clarist nun, visited him in the jail to express her forgiveness and accept him as her brother.
The film shows Sister Selmy praying before a crucifix, “At least you had your mother and dear friends at the foot of the Cross when you were dying Jesus, my sister died completely alone.”
In another scene, the nuns’ mother Eliswa Paily receives Singh in their home in Kerala, saying: “You’re my son, and I’m glad you came.”
This leaves Singh wondering, How is it humanly possible to receive one’s daughter’s killer into home? How can one shake his hands knowing her blood was on them?
In yet another scene, an elderly man, white-haired, barefooted and dressed as a sadhu (ascetic), warmly embraces Samundar saying: “God has forgiven you.” This man, in spite of appearances, is Father Michael Purattukara, a Christian Sannyasi, called Swami Sadanand by all.
McGilvary became familiar with the story in 2009 and immediately wanted to meet the slain nun’s mother and sister. In an interview, she explained how she wanted to understand how they were able to forgive Singh after the horror they suffered so that she could tell their story: “I went to India wanting to completely embrace this story,” she explained.
Source: : mattersindia.com reporter