Nun Gives Eyewitness Account of Islamic State's Murder of 4 Missionaries of Charity in Yemen

By Lauretta Brown | March 18, 2016 | 2:35pm EDT
A Yemeni man inspects an elderly care home after it was attacked by gunmen in the port city of Aden, Yemen, on Friday.

(CNSNews.com) – The sole survivor of an attack by Islamic State terrorists on the Missionaries of Charity home in Yemen earlier this month, Sister Sally, recounted the treatment of her fellow sisters at the hands of the militants who “tied them up, shot them in the head and smashed their heads,” according to the handwritten account obtained by the National Catholic Register.

Sister Sally, the superior of the sisters’ community in Yemen, gave her account of the massacre to Sister Rio, and the account was recorded by another Missionary of Charity, Sister Adriana. Copies of the handwritten account were reproduced in full by the National Catholic Register and the Catholic news site, Aleteia.

Sister Adriana wrote, “5 young Ethiopian men (Christian) began running to tell the sisters ISIS was here to kill them. They were killed one by one. They tied them to trees, shot them in the head and smashed their heads.”

She recounts that the nuns “ran 2 by 2 in different directions, as they have mens and ladies home. 4 working women were screaming, ‘Don’t kill the sisters! Don’t kill the sisters!’ One was the cook for 15 years. They killed them as well.”

“They caught Sr. Judith and Sr. Reginette first, tied them up, shot them in the head and smashed their heads. When the sisters ran in different directions, the Superior ran to the convent to try to warn Father Tom,” the sister wrote. “They caught Sr. Anselm and Sr. Marguerite, tied them, shot them in the head and smashed their heads in the sand.”

Sister Sally “could not get to the convent” and “saw all the sisters and helpers killed.”

The account relates that the ISIS men were entering the convent and Sister Sally tried to hide in a refrigerator room. The men searched the room she was hiding in but did not see her, which Sister Adriana called “miraculous.”

“These ISIS men were everywhere, searching for her, as they knew there were 5,” the account reads. “At least three times they came into the fridgerator room. She did not hide, but remained standing behind the door – they never saw her. This is miraculous.”

The report notes the kidnapping of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest that was staying with the sisters. According to the account, “a neighbor saw them put Father Tom in their car. They did not find any trace of Father anywhere. All the religious articles were smashed and destroyed – Our Lady, crucifix, altar, tabernacle, lectionary stand – even their prayer books and Bibles.”

Sr. Sally recounted that she “is so sad because she is alone and did not die with her sisters.” 

Sr. Adriana notes that “Sr. Rio told her God wanted a witness and told her, ‘Who would have found the sisters’ bodies and who would ever tell us what happened? God wants us to know.’”

Sr. Rio described Sr. Sally as “fully surrendered.”

“The police are trying to get her out because they will just keep after her until they kill her. She is fully surrendered and told Sr. Rio – whatever God wants,” the report said. “She said the other Muslims are so respectful of them. She said to pray that their blood will be the seeds for peace in the Middle East and to stop the ISIS.”

Sr. Rio in detailing the account said that the sisters “were so faithful – ISIS knew exactly when they leave and when to break in. And because of their faithfulness, they were in the right place at the right time and were ready when the Bridegroom came.”

Bishop Edward Rice, an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, quoted these powerful words in a homily at a mass in the sisters’ honor, saying that he was “amazed by the faith reflected in those words.”

“These are today’s martyrs,” Pope Francis said of the slain sisters in the days following the attack. “They are not on the front pages of the newspapers – they are not news. They give their blood for the church.”

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