Father Xavier Thelakkat, rector of the shrine of St. Thomas in Malayattoor, India, pictured in a 2012 photo, was stabbed to death in 2018. An Indian court sentenced former sacristan Johny Vattaparamban, 54, to life imprisonment for the murder of Father Thelakkat in southern Kerala state. CNS photo/Anto Akkara

Sacristan sentenced to life in prison for murder of Indian shrine rector

By 
  • May 4, 2020

COCHIN, India -- An Indian court sentenced former sacristan Johny Vattaparamban, 54, to life imprisonment for the 2018 murder of the rector of popular St. Thomas Shrine at Malayattoor, in southern Kerala state.

The court also imposed a fine of $1,321 on Vattaparamban, convicted of stabbing Father Xavier Thelakkat March 1, 2018, as he descended from the hilltop shrine, about 35 miles north of Cochin.

Father Thelakkat was stabbed after he refused to reinstate the sacristan, whom he had suspended for "misconduct," including alcoholism at the shrine premise.

In 2004, the Vatican conferred international status to the shrine on the hill where St. Thomas the Apostle was said to have prayed.

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