2001 – Irish soil is sprinkled over the casket of Sister Theresa Egan, of Co. Offaly, as more than 2,000 mourners attend her funeral in St Lucia.

The nun was brutally murdered while attending Mass last week.

More than 2,000 people in the Caribbean island of Santa Lucia have attended the funeral of an Irish nun who was killed in an attack on a Roman Catholic church on New Year’s Eve.

Sister Theresa Egan, 73, was beaten to death after she tried to escape attackers who had burst in to the church, lashing out at worshippers with machetes and setting them on fire.

Another person is reported to have died in hospital after the attack – at least 12 were injured.

Two men who identified themselves as Rastafarians have been formally charged with murder and attempted murder among other offences.

Sister Egan had lived in St Lucia for more than four decades, serving as a teacher and administrator at several Catholic schools.

Her funeral mass took place in the same Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception where she died.

At the front of the basilica, candles were arranged to spell out the words “sister” and “peace”.

She was then buried on a hillside overlooking the capital, Castries, where the attack occurred.

“It is a martyr’s death,” said Sister Paula Andrews who lived in the same convent.

The reasons for attack on the Castries cathedral are still unknown and have led to much speculation in the St Lucian press.

Initial reports said the two suspects told police they were prophets sent by Haile Selassie – the late Ethiopian emperor worshipped as a god by Rastafarians – to combat corruption in the Catholic church.

But Rastafarian leader Ras Bongo Isley said the attack was not the work of real rastafarians, since the movement “teaches love and peace”.

There were also reports that the men belonged to an anti-Christian organisation, and that “satanic” symbols had been posted on the doors of Cathedral of Immaculate Conception and other churches a week before the attack.

But the accused are said to have denied any knowledge of the symbols.

The attackers entered the church on New Year’s Eve as worshippers were lining up to receive Holy Communion.

They then lashed out at them with machetes, doused them with flammable liquid and set fire to them with a blow torch.

An Irish nun who survived the assault described the scenes of horror in what she called the “Satanic” incident.

“I saw Sister Theresa fall to the ground and I wanted to help her. But I then felt a terrible force on the side of my head and also fell and could not move.

Source: BBC News

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