Sister Prasanna Devi, a Catholic hermit nun who was an inspiration for many, especially Hindus, died on February 27 in the western Indian state of Gujarat. She would have turned 89 on March 13.
She is the first Indian woman to be allowed by the Catholic Church to live a life of solitary penance, Sister Devi was suffering from age-related illnesses for the past few years.
The death occurred at 2:33 p.m. at the parish presbytery of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Junagadh, a town in Gujarat where she had been staying for nearly a decade.
Carmelite Father Vinod Kanatt, the parish priest who looked after the nun, told Matters India that she was discharged from Christ hospital Rajkot two days earlier. She was taken to the hospital on February 3 after her health deteriorated.
The cremation will take place tomorrow in Junagadh.
Prasannadevi is a nun who lived alone for more than 4 decades in an ashram on Mount Girnar, a part of Girvanam with lions. She was known as ‘Mataji’. She helped Hindus understand the religion of Jesus' Gospel
At the age of 22, Prasannadevi, a native of Thodupuzha Yeumuttam, joined the monastic community called Little Sisters of Father de Foucault of the Sacred Heart. Sister Devi left without taking vows because the congregation wound up its operations in India in 1961 when she was still in the novitiate.
Later, she spent two years with the Benedictine Sisters in Bangalore to observe the congregation and explore the possibility of joining them. She left because she felt the urge to become an ascetic.
In September 1974, she began living deep inside the Girnar mountain range.
In 1997, the Vatican approved the asceticism of Prasannadevi, although according to the canon of the Catholic Church, women are not allowed to lead a solitary monastic life.
Many mistook the Catholic nun for a Hindu sanyasi because of her dress and lifestyle.
In an earlier interview, she explained that even though she looked like a Hindu ascetic, she shared her Catholic identity and the love of Jesus Christ with everyone who visited her.
As she developed health problems, Bishop Jose Chittooparambil of Rajkot asked her to move to the Junagadh parish house in September 2014.
The prelate said Sister Devi had shown “an ideal way” to introduce Christ’s message to people in India.