St. Joseph Church in Kureepuzha village of Kollam district in Kerala state. The body of a nun was found in her convent's well in Kureepuzha on April 16. (Photo: Mapio.net)
The body of a 42-year-old Catholic nun has been found in a convent well in India’s Kerala state in the second such incident in two months.
The body of Sister Mable Joseph, a member of the Pious Workers of St. Joseph congregation, was discovered in her convent’s well in Kureepuzha village of Kollam district on April 16.
A note left in her room reportedly said she was committing suicide because she was unable to bear the pain of her physical ailments. It also said her body would be in the well.
“Nobody is responsible for my death,” Sister Joseph wrote, appealing for all to pray for her.
The convent’s nuns began searching for her after she failed to join them for morning prayers. They found her suicide note in her room and informed the police.
“Her body has been taken for a post-mortem,” her parish priest Father Francis John told UCA News on April 16. “It is clear from the suicide note that she has committed suicide.”
What we understand now is that it a case of suicide … the post-mortem report will say more about it
Sister Joseph's funeral is scheduled for April 17 after the completion of autopsy and legal formalities, the priest said.
Media and social media discussions tend to link such incidents with suspected murders and sexual violations as in the past three decades more than 20 nuns have been found dead in mysterious circumstances in India.
“What we understand now is that it a case of suicide … the post-mortem report will say more about it,” said a church leader who asked to remain anonymous.
The congregation has not commented on Sister Joseph’s death.
The death comes two months after the body of Sister Jaseena Thomas, a member of the Missionary Congregation of the Daughters of St. Thomas, was found floating in a quarry on Feb. 14 in Kerala’s Ernakulum district.
Church leaders said it was a suicide but local people claimed it was a murder. A police post-mortem found it was a case of suicide with “nothing suspicious in her death.”
The Church was accused of hushing up the murder of 19-year-old Sister Abhaya of St. Joseph’s Congregation after her body was found in a well at St. Pius Convent in Kottayam district of Kerala in 1992.
The case was initially dismissed as suicide by church officials and police but after decades of investigation following public pressure, a trial court in December 2020 convicted a Catholic priest and a nun of murdering her.
Although many nuns have died under mysterious circumstances, most cases were not investigated or dismissed as suicide without any serious investigation.