Pope Francis meets with bishop of murdered lay missionary

Pope Francis meets with a delegation from the Diocese of Huarí, Peru, May 6, 2021. Pope Francis meets with a delegation from the Diocese of Huarí, Peru, May 6, 2021. | Vatican Media

Pope Francis met with a delegation Thursday from the diocese in Peru where Nadia De Munari, an Italian lay missionary, was murdered last month.

Bishop Giorgio Barbetta, the auxiliary of Huarí diocese, came to Italy to offer a funeral Mass for De Munari, who was killed while serving among the poor as a Vincentian missionary in Peru.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

“A beacon illuminated Nadia’s life,” Barbetta said at the funeral on May 3 in Schio, Italy.

De Munari brought this light to Nuevo Chimbote, the community where she served in Peru, Barbetta said.

In Nuevo Chimbote, the bishop explained, 80,000 people live “in shacks made of mats, often without light, water and sewers,” he said.

It was in this poor neighborhood that De Munari ran multiple kindergartens, daycare centers, and a primary school, serving around 500 children

“Just a few weeks ago, Nadia was worried about the children and had brought together the teachers to resume activities following the quarantine. She was running towards the good, but she was stopped by violence,” the bishop said.

On the morning of April 21, De Munari was found unconscious in a pool of blood with head injuries in the missionary center where she lived in Nuevo Chimbote.

According to the local newspaper Diario de Chimbote, she had been attacked in the early hours of April 21 at the “Mamma Mia” home run by Operation Mato Grosso organization.

The missionary was taken to the Eleazar Guzmán Barrón regional hospital, where the attending physician said that she had fractures to her jaw, forearm, and neck, as well as several cuts to her head and face.

She was later transferred to a clinic in Lima, where she died April 24. She was 50 years old.

There is an ongoing police investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

Pope Francis received Bishop Barbetta and priests from the Peruvian diocese in a private audience on May 6. The group showed the pope photographs and shared memories of the late missionary.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent a message, dated April 27, on behalf of Pope Francis, saying that the pontiff offered prayers for the eternal repose of her soul.

The telegram said that Pope Francis condemned “this new and unjustifiable episode of violence, which is added to the many others in which missionaries have lost their lives while performing, with self-denial, their service to the Gospel and assistance to the most needy and defenseless.”

More in Vatican

Barbetta said that De Munari’s life and blood had “become a seed” that has taken root.

“In Nuevo Chimbote, no one will be able to forget her … This seed will take root again in the hearts of many young people and those who receive this seed will feel pain and love, indissolubly united. But from pain, from non-sense, from coldness, they will discover love. it will be able to give life to the desire of God … because as Nadia often repeated ‘don't keep life for yourself, give it as a gift.’”

Our mission is the truth. Join us!

Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.