The Italian priests and sisters who served at the mission were able to evacuate 68 students who were living at the mission before the church, boarding houses, rectory, and school were destroyed in the five-hour attack on the night of Sept. 6.
Sister Maria was about to flee with the other missionaries when she turned back out of concern for the 12 female students who had stayed behind at the mission, according to the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need.
The 83-year-old religious sister left a voicemail for her niece, Gabriella Bottani, shortly before her death, the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported.
In the voicemail, Sister Maria said that Al-Shabaab insurgents were close to the mission and the situation was “very tense.”
“It appears that they are armed, that they have already kidnapped people, killed someone,” she said.
“Wherever they pass, they carry out massacres.”