Nun Murdered During ISIS Attack on Catholic Mission in Mozambique

Photo by Martin Bekerman on Unsplash

A Catholic nun who devoted nearly six decades of ministry to the people of Mozambique was murdered by ISIS terrorists earlier this month when jihadists attacked the mission where she served.

Inacio Saure, the Archbishop of Nampula and President of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique, condemned the rise in jihadist attacks and mourned the death of Sister Maria De Coppi, who was shot in the head as she ran back into a building where she believed children were hiding as the terrorists attacked the compound, International Christian Concern reported.

On September 6, the mission was stormed by militants that had been carrying out a number of attacks in the region in recent weeks.

The attack lasted five hours, according to the Catholic News Agency, during which the terrorists burned down the mission’s church, school buildings, health center, library, vehicles, and homes.

“They destroyed everything,” said Bishop Alberto Vera of Nacala.

“The attackers broke open the tabernacle and vandalized part of the sacristy, looking for whatever they could find — probably money,” he added.

Sister Maria, who was 83 and had served in Mozambique for 59 years, was forced by the terrorists to flee with her sisters. However, realizing there might still be children hiding in the home they were leaving, she turned back and was shot and killed.

In a voicemail to her niece shortly before she was killed, Maria explained that the group, called al-Shabaab, had been carrying out attacks in the area and were on their way to her compound.

“On Friday they attacked a place in our parish and it seems that yesterday a group entered here, and they are very close. It seems that they are armed, they have already kidnapped people, they have killed people. Wherever they pass, they carry out massacres,” she said.

The nun explained that “all the people here are fleeing, running away. Today a Father told me that the girls from the [boarding school] should return home and that the four aspirants of the Comboni Sisters will also return to Nampula because there is danger.”

“The situation is sad, very sad,” she continued. “All the people sleep outdoors in the forest, among the plants; those who can, go to the towns of Alua, Mazua, and the centers where they are a little more protected. But many people are still sleeping outside, in the woods. It’s sad.”

Sister Maria described the situation as “very sad” and said that “everyone is escaping: nurses, priests, everyone.”

“They’re shooting here. We’ll see each other in paradise. They are burning the house. If you don’t hear from me anymore, I take the opportunity to apologize for my shortcomings and to tell you that I loved you very much. Remember me in prayer,” she begged her niece.

Even facing death, Sister Maria urged her niece to forgive anyone who would attack her.

“I have forgiven those who will kill me,” she said. “You do the same. A hug from me.”

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