Bagerhat (AsiaNews) – Some three thousand people, Christians, Muslims and Hindus, were waiting for the body of Fr Marino Rigon, a Xaverian missionary who died in Italy a year ago, in Bagerhat, southern Bangladesh.
His burial near the church of Shelabunia fulfils his last wishes after he dedicated 60 years of his life to the mission in Bangladesh.
For the contribution he made to the local community, Fr Rigon went to his grave in a coffin draped in the Bangladeshi flag accompanied by an honour guard.
The missionary, who was a great admirer of Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize laureate for literature in 1913, translated 40 Bangladeshi literary works into Italian, as well as 350 popular songs and numerous poems.
The priest arrived in Dhaka at the age of 28. Thanks to his missionary work, at least 15 primary schools, a high school, several hospitals and clinics were created.
Fr Rigon provided training to needy people and contributed to their socio-economic development.
In 1971, during Bangladesh’s War of liberation, he provided medical assistance to freedom fighters.
For services rendered to the nation, the Government of Bangladesh granted him honorary citizenship and in 2012 presented him with the Friends of the Liberation War award.
During the funeral, Mgr James Romen Boiragi, bishop of Khulna, celebrated a solemn memorial Mass.
During the homily, the prelate stressed that “Fr Marino Rigon did not work only for Christians, but for all men and women of faith. This is why everyone loves him.
For the bishop, “He was an exemplary missionary. We must follow his ideals. He will continue to live in the hearts of the people of Bangladesh”.
Bilkis Begum, a 55-year-old Muslim woman, was in the crowd of people who yesterday came to bid Fr Rigon goodbye.
“Father Marino Rigon loved me like a daughter, but he called me ‘ma” (mother),” said the teary-eyed woman in a broken voice. “He changed our socio-economic situation and for this reason we thank him. He was a living saint, for every faith.”