Thousands of Mourners Celebrate Lives of Slain Missionary Sisters

Burial Took Place Thursday in Democratic Republic of Congo

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Thousands of mourners in Burundi have celebrated the lives of three Italian missionary sisters brutally murdered this week in their convent near the country’s capital, Bujumbura.

The emotional and sombre funeral Mass on Wednesday, presided by Archbishop Evariste Ngonagoye of Bujumbura, took place before their bodies were taken to Democratic Republic of Congo for burial yesterday.

The three sisters, Olga Raschietti, 83, Lucia Pulici, 75, and Bernadetta Boggian, aged 79, were attacked and brutally murdered by an assailant on Sunday.

The Mass was attended by as many as three thousand mourners, including the vice-president and top politicians, according to AFP. Photographs of the elderly missionaries were placed on top of three white coffins laid alongside each other in front of mourners, with candles burning alongside.

The three were buried Thursday in the nearby town of Bukavu, in neighbouring DR Congo, where their order, the Xaverians, has a church.

Police have arrested a man who they say has confessed to the killing of the sisters, although Sister Delia Guadagnini, former Regional Superior of the Xaverian Missionaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, told Fides News Agency that they do not believe the police’s version.

Sister Delia said the person arrested “is an excuse to divert the investigation into the killing of our nuns.”

The suspect, Christian Claude Butoyi, 33, has said he killed the three religious because he believed that their convent was built on land that belonged to his family. «We do not think that this horrible crime was committed by a single person,” Sister Delia said. “The Lord will judge. However, we will continue with our mission».

She added: «Yesterday morning in Bujumbura, at the funeral of our sisters, we felt comforted by the presence of a vast number of people, from the simplest to the authorities. Immediately after the funeral, the journey of the funeral procession began. We were escorted by the police of Burundi to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then, once we crossed the border, we arrived in Luvungi where all three of our missionaries had worked for a long time. There we stopped to celebrate a Mass of suffrage. We left this morning at 6 am, we hope to arrive at 11 for Mass.»

Sister Delia said she herself would replace the three sisters at the convent. 


On ZENIT’s webpage:

Pope Receives News of Murdered Sisters With ‘Great Sadness’

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