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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the Reception in Rome on the Occasion of Cannonisation of Sr. Mariam Thresia, Oct 12, 2019

Posted on: October 12, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the 
Reception in Rome on the Occasion of Cannonisation of Sr. Mariam Thresia, Oct 12, 2019

Honourable Minister of State for External Affairs Shri V. Muralidharan Sir, His Eminence Cardinal George Alenchery, His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, His Excellencies, Hon’ble Members of Parliament, Distinguished guests ladies and gentlemen, Good Evening.

Let me begin by welcoming our Hon’ble Minister of State, Your Eminence Cardinals, Your Excellencies, Members of Parliament and Distinguished guests to this evening, when we meet on the eve of the canonisation of Blessed Sr Mariam Thresia. On behalf of my wife Joice and my colleagues who have come from Switzerland.

I am based in Bern Switzerland, representing India also to Switzerland and to the small but important Principality of Lichtenstein. It has been almost eighteen months since I assumed the responsibility as India’s Ambassador to The Holy See. Since then I have been bringing greetings on behalf of 1.3 billion people of India to His Holiness Pope Francis and also to Prince of Lichtenstein and President of Switzerland.

My diplomatic colleagues in India and in Switzerland agree with me that it is a great honour for any diplomat to get up every day morning thinking about a His Holiness Pope, His Highness a Prince and His Excellency a President. It is a matter of great pride for any Indian diplomat to represent his country abroad, one of the oldest, largest and perhaps among the very few continuous major civilizations in the world.

During the last eighteen months, I have made it a point to come over to Vatican at least once every month and engage with the leadership of The Holy See. I have been meeting the representatives of various Pontifical Congregations who received me with warmth and affection. Last year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and The Holy See. The relationship between India and Christianity, however, is over two thousand years, one of civilizational bond that makes us all proud.

I am happy to note that early this month I delivered an address at a major event that the Pontifical Council for Inter religious Dialogue organised in Vatican to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Monsignor Michael Santiago who took the initiative to organise this Gandhi celebrations is present here.

It is an eye opener to many, when you present to them the Indian civilisation. A civilisation gave rise to ancient religions such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism and also Sikhism. In fact, India is home to other many religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In fact, Christianity reached India and flourished there since 52 CE, in the first century immediately after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, much before it reached most parts of Europe. India has more Christians than the total population of most of the European countries.
Each time that I visit Vatican, I come across a large number of Indians from all over India. They are symbols of India’s unity in diversity. We all come from different parts of India, we speak several hundred languages, we worship different Gods, we celebrate different festivals, we eat different foods, we wear different clothes, but there is a feeling of oneness and common consciousness, a civilizational bond, that keeps us together, make us all proud as India. In fact, we celebrate all festivals, whether it is onam or bishakhi, holy or dusharah, Christmas or Easter, these are all celebrated as festivals of India, celebrated by one and all. This unity in diversity is something very few countries in the world can be proud of.

I am happy that we are meeting here today on the eve of the canonisation of Bl. Mother Mariam Thresia. I thank Hon’ble Minister for joining us. I thank Hon’ble Members of Parliament for joining us. I thank our beloved Cardinals and Bishops for joining us. I would like to extend my congratulations and special thanks to Sr. Udaya CHF, Superior General of the Congregation of the Holy Family.

This is a proud movement for every Indian. She was a person with vision, a saintly woman, a great mystic who fulfilled her mission struggling through varied difficulties.  On September 29, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said, I quote, "It is a matter of pride for every Indian that on the coming October 13 His Holiness Pope Francis will declare Sister Mariam Thresia a saint. I pay heartfelt tributes to Sister Mariam Thresia and congratulate the citizens of India, and especially our Christian brothers and sisters for this achievement."

Hon’ble guests, may I request all of you to stand for a moment and join the 1.3 billion brothers and sisters of India to pay our heartfelt tributes to Blessed Sister Mariam Thresia.

Thank you and have a good evening.