An Indian nun murdered in 1995 was beatified on Saturday – and one of those celebrating was her assassin.

Clarist Sister Rani Maria Vattalil, 41, was stabbed in front of more than 50 bus passengers on a remote jungle track in Madhya Pradesh state while she travelled to her family home in Kerala.

Samandar Singh, then 22, murdered her on behalf of mon­ey lenders upset with Sister Rani Maria’s work setting up self-help groups in the Diocese of Indore. Singh has since been forgiven by the nun’s family and was released from prison.

“Whatever happened has happened. I am sad and sorry about what I did. But now I am happy that the world is recognising and honouring Sister Rani,” Singh, a Hindu, told the Catholic News Service in a telephone interview from his village of Semlia.

Singh was convicted of the murder and initially was sent­enced to death. The sentence was later commuted to life in prison. He said Sister Rani Maria’s younger sister – Clarist Sister Selmy – had formally accepted him as her “brother” when he was in prison and lobbied for his early release. Court officials agreed to the release in 2006 after declarations were signed by Sister Selmy, her parents and Church officials.

When Sister Selmy was preparing to return home to southern Kerala state in January 2007 to visit her ailing 82-year-old father, Paul Vattalil, Singh accompanied the nun and apologised to her parents.

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