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Paying respects to Dr Ruth Pfau, a symbol of selflessness and devotion

Updated Aug 20, 2017 12:11am

Mourners on Saturday attended a state funeral for Ruth Pfau, a German physician and nun who earned international acclaim as “Pakistan's Mother Theresa” by devoting her life to the eradication of leprosy in the country.

Pfau died on August 10 at age 87 in Karachi. State-run and private television broadcast live footage of her casket being carried by a military guard at the city's St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Hundreds of people attended the service at the cathedral, including members of civil society and diplomats.

She was later buried in a nearby cemetery, in a funeral attended by President Mamnoon Hussain, senior government and military officials and Muslim clerics.

Martha Fernando, who worked with Pfau at her Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center, said the German physician's death was a great loss to humanity. “There is no one like her and there won't be any replacement to her. We pray to God to send people like her again to this world so that they could continue serving people,” she said.

Pakistan suffered high rates of leprosy up until the mid-1990s. Pfau played a key role in efforts to bring the disease under control.

People gather around the casket of Ruth Pfau, a German-born physician and nun, at the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center ahead of her funeral in Karachi.—AP
People gather around the casket of Ruth Pfau, a German-born physician and nun, at the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center ahead of her funeral in Karachi.—AP

Troops escort the casket of Ruth Pfau, a physician and nun, for a funeral at the Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi. —AP
Troops escort the casket of Ruth Pfau, a physician and nun, for a funeral at the Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi. —AP

Soldiers and members of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre transport the coffin of Ruth Pfau to an ambulance during her funeral ceremony in Karachi. —AFP
Soldiers and members of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre transport the coffin of Ruth Pfau to an ambulance during her funeral ceremony in Karachi. —AFP

Members of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre mourn the death of Ruth Pfau. —AFP
Members of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre mourn the death of Ruth Pfau. —AFP

The casket of Dr. Ruth Katharina Martha Pfau ‘Nishan-i-Quaid-i-Azam’ on the way to the graveyard with full military honour. —APP
The casket of Dr. Ruth Katharina Martha Pfau ‘Nishan-i-Quaid-i-Azam’ on the way to the graveyard with full military honour. —APP

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman and Vice Admiral Zafar Mehmood attend the burial ceremony of Dr Ruth Pfau at Karachi's Gora Qabristan. —Online
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman and Vice Admiral Zafar Mehmood attend the burial ceremony of Dr Ruth Pfau at Karachi's Gora Qabristan. —Online

Navy's Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Zafar Mehmood laying wreath at the grave of Dr Ruth Pfau. —Online
Navy's Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Zafar Mehmood laying wreath at the grave of Dr Ruth Pfau. —Online

People gather outside the St. Patrick’s Church for the funeral of Dr Ruth Pfau. —PPI
People gather outside the St. Patrick’s Church for the funeral of Dr Ruth Pfau. —PPI