Nun shot in Somalia offered forgiveness with dying breath

.- The Consolata missionary sister who was shot dead by Islamic extremists in Mogadishu, Somalia, forgave her killers with her final breaths.

Sr. Leonella Sgorbati, 70, was shot five times in the back, in broad daylight, as she was walking back to her residence from the pediatric hospital where she gave medical training. Sr. Sgorbati was returning home at midday for lunch. Two gunmen reportedly jumped out from behind parked cars and opened fire on Sr. Sgorbati and one of the security guards who accompany the sisters when they cross the street, reported MISNA. The guard also died.

The attackers were reportedly well aware of the sisters’ daily routines and knew that the only moment to strike was when they crossed the street.  Other sisters heard the shots and ran out onto the street, only to see the gunmen fleeing and Sister Leonella on the ground.

“We followed the stretcher into the hospital, where Sr. Leonella was rushed to the operating room. The medics brought four or five sacks of blood, but as much as they put in, came out,” Sr. Marzia Feurra, a Consolata missionary, told MISNA. “When the surgeon arrived he told us that there was nothing left to do.”

Sr. Feurra described Sr. Sgorbati’s final moments on the operating table. “Sister Leonella was still alive; she was in a cold sweat. We held hands, looked at each other and, before turning out like a little candle, three times she repeated to me ‘forgive.’ ‘Forgive, forgive, forgive…’ These were her last words,” she said.

Sr. Sgorbati’s funeral will be held Thursday at Consolata Church in Nairobi.

This morning Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram, through Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, offering his condolences and prayers to the Consolata community, of which Sr. Sgorbati was a part.  The communication called the sister’s death “tragic” and deplored the manner in which she was “barbarically murdered.”

“In firmly reaffirming his condemnation of every type of violence, His Holiness hopes that the blood poured from this faithful disciple of the Gospel will become a seed of hope for the construction of an authentic fraternity between peoples, in the mutual respect for the religious convictions of all,” the telegram said.

A Swedish journalist and a Somali peace activist, also foreigners, have been killed in Mogadishu recent months. According to the Associated Press, their deaths coincide with a rise in Islamic radicalism in Somalia, as a hard-line Muslim militia expands its reach.

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