WWII Heroine Could Be Malaysia’s First Saint

The Bishop of the Catholic Church in Penang has officially announced the start of the canonization and canonization process for Sybil Katikasu, a wartime nurse and lay Catholic figure.

Via Lygas News

Penang Bishop Cardinal Sebastian Francis made the announcement after a series of consultations with Kuala Lumpur Archbishop Julian Leo. Archbishop Bro. Archbishop Eugene Benedict of Kuala Lumpur presided.

„It is good to revisit his life and works to see the inspiration for our time. I wish that efforts should be made to collect, compile, study, reflect and make available his life and work as a witness to us. By God’s grace I hope to carry out his mission of obtaining a master’s degree and canonization, ” said Cardinal Francis.

Sybil Kadikasu was renowned for her compassionate care and resistance efforts during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia in World War II.

According to Cardinal Francis, Kadikasu continues to inspire various sectors of society. Her life has been depicted in many plays, documentaries and movies, establishing her as a symbol of courage and faith.

Emphasizing his enduring impact on Malaysian culture and heritage, his legacy architecture has also attracted the interest of schoolchildren.

In 2019, the Year of Mission, Katikasu was recognized as one of the five Exemplars of Missionary Witnesses in the church in Penang. There is a dedicated wing in his honor at St Joseph’s Church in Batu Kajah, Perak.

His profound influence is also highlighted in the Malaysian Catechetical Series for Year 7 students in Tamil.

Pilgrimages to his tomb at St. Michael’s Church in Ipoh and to his clinic in Perak, Papan continue, reflecting the deep respect and appreciation of the community and visitors.

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Cardinal Francis noted that Katikasu’s legacy also influences personal milestones, with many Catholic parents naming their children after her, symbolizing her role as a model of lay Catholic witness.

This year marks the 76th anniversary of Kadikasu’s death on June 12, 1948. Cardinal Francis noted that his life exemplified the power of hope and faith, which sustained him through significant challenges.

Born in Indonesia, Sybil and her husband, Dr. Upton Clement Katikasu, ran a free clinic in Papan, Perak, during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

He aided the resistance by secretly supplying drugs and medical services to the Allied forces. She was captured, interrogated and tortured by the Japanese authorities.

Sybil died in Britain on June 12, 1948, aged 48, and was initially buried in Lanark, Scotland. His body was later repatriated to Malaya in 1949 and reburied in the Roman Catholic Cemetery near St Michael’s Church in Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, Ipoh.

In his memory, Jalan Sibil Katikasu in Ipoh’s Fair Park was named Freedom Memorial to commemorate his bravery. The shophouse at No. 74, Papan Main Road, which was once the Sybil Clinic, now serves as a memorial museum.

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