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Three elderly Italian nuns killed in Burundi

By editor - 10 September, 2014

Pope Francis has sent telegram expressing his sorrow at the murders and spiritual closeness to the victims' community, families and Bujumbura archdiocese.

Italian nuns killed in BurundiSource: ICN/Xaverian/VIS

Three elderly Xaverian nuns have been murdered in Bujumbura, Burundi.

Police said two suspects had been detained for questioning.

A statement from the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary said: “The murders appeared to be the tragic outcome of an armed robbery or a vendetta.”

Parish priest, Fr Mario Pulicini, from Kamenge, a northern suburb of Bujumbura, named the nuns as Sr Lucia Pulici (75) and Sr Olga Raschietti (82). He said they were found dead in their dormitory on Sunday.

The third nun, 79-year-old Sr Bernadetta Boggian, was found early on Monday morning.

According to Fr Mario, the killings appeared to have happened at two separate times.

Sr Bernadetta’s body was discovered by the priest, who had rushed to the convent after a panicked phone call from other nuns who had heard unusual noises in the house.

The Sisters had served in Burundi for seven years, after working several years in the east of another central African state, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sr Olga had spent the last 50 years of her life in Africa. Sr Lucia and Sr Olga helped look after sick people, while Sr Bernadetta worked in a sewing school they had set up for girls.

Pope Francis sent telegrams expressing his condolences.

Signed by the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the first telegram was addressed to Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura, Burundi, and expressed the Pope’s sorrow at hearing of the murders and his spiritual closeness to the victims’ community, to their families and the whole Bujumbura archdiocese.

The second telegram was addressed to Sr Ines Frizza, Superior General of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary.

The fist telegram stated:

To Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura, Burundi

His Holiness Pope Francis has learned with great sadness of the murder of three nuns, Sister Bernadetta Bogiann, Sister Lucia Pulici and Sister Olga Raschietti, who were in the pastoral service of the parish of Saint Guido Maria Conforti in Bujumbura. The Holy Father begs the Lord to welcome into his kingdom of peace and light these three faithful and devout nuns. In these tragic circumstances, he expresses his closeness to their religious community, to the families of the victims, and the entire diocesan community. He imparts the comfort of a heartfelt and affectionate Apostolic blessing to all those affected by their sudden loss. I join the Holy Father in offering my condolences and wish to assure those close to the departed Sisters of my fervent prayers.

The second telegram reads:

To Sister Ines Frizza, Superior General of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary

Deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters killed in Burundi, the Holy Father wishes to assure his heartfelt participation in the profound suffering of the Congregation for the loss of such dedicated sisters and, in the hope that the blood they have shed may become the seed of hope to build true fraternity between peoples, raises fervent prayers for the eternal repose of their souls and for their generous witness of the Gospel. To their families, the entire Institute and those who mourn their loss, he imparts the comfort of his apostolic blessing.

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