Yemen: Nun miraculously survived Islamic State attack that killed 16; kidnapped priest may be crucified on Good Friday


Date:                           March 25, 2016

By Mark Ellis, Special to ASSIST News Service

ADEN, YEMEN (ANS - March 25, 2016) -- Sister Sally, a superior of the Missionaries of Charity, an order founded by Mother Teresa, miraculously survived an Islamic State (ISIS) attack on a convent and a home for seniors in Yemen that killed four nuns and 12 others.

Sister Sally in YemenEarly on Friday morning, March 4th, Sister Sally was shocked when five young Ethiopian Christians ran to alert the sisters that Islamic State had arrived to kill them. Clearly alarmed, the nuns ran two-by-two in different directions.

Some of the workers at the home for seniors yelled, “Don’t kill the sisters! Don’t kill the sisters!”

“They caught Sister Judith and Sister Reginette first, tied them up, shot them in the head, and smashed their heads,” according to Sister Sally’s account obtained by The Clarion Project.

Then Sister Anselm and Sister Marguerite were caught and brutally killed in the same fashion.

One of the sisters speculated later that the smashing of the heads was a cruel mockery of the Scripture, “He will crush the head of the serpent.”

The gunmen entered the old-age home, which housed 80 people, by persuading the guard at the gate that they wanted to visit their elderly mother. As soon as they gained entry, they shot the guard dead and began moving from room to room, handcuffing their victims before shooting them and smashing their heads, according to the account.

Sister Sally started to run toward the convent to warn Father Thomas, but realized the IS fighters were already there, so she decided to hide in the refrigerator room at the senior home.

The IS fighters searched everywhere for her, because they knew there were five nuns in total. At least three times they came to the refrigeration room looking for Sister Sally.

Sister Sally did not hide but remained standing behind the door – they never saw her. “This is miraculous,” the account noted.

Father Thomas was put into a car by the ISIS fighters and taken to an unknown location. Rumors surfaced on the internet that he would be crucified by the extremists on Good Friday.

Before the attack, because of the warfare in the port city of Aden last year and the ongoing presence of IS in the city, Father Thomas admonished the nuns almost every day to be ready for martyrdom.

Sixteen people were killed in the attack, including four of the five nuns. Islamic State targeted the home and apparently studied when the nuns would be present. “The nuns were so faithful; ISIS knew exactly when they leave and when to break in. Because of their faithfulness they were in the right place at the right time and were ready when the Bridegroom came,” the account noted.

The report says the order of nuns was “the only Christian presence” in Aden “and Islamic State wants to get rid of all Christianity.”

“They are real martyrs; they died because they are Christians. They could have died in the war but God wanted it to be clear they are martyrs for the faith,” she said.

In addition to the horrible crimes already inflicted, the jihadis “smashed and destroyed” all Christian artifacts at the site — the tabernacle, altar, crucifix, statues, Bibles and prayer books.

Photo captions: 1) Sister Sally recounts her miraculous escape in media interview. 2) Mark Ellis.


Mark Ellis potraitAbout the writer: Mark Ellis is senior correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (, and also founder of,  a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world. He is also co-host for "Windows on the World" with ANS founder, Dan Wooding, on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network ( 

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