COCHIN, India — An Indian court sentenced former sacristan Johny Vattaparamban, 54, to life imprisonment for the 2018 murder of the rector of popular St. Thomas Shrine at Malayattoor, in southern Kerala state.

The court also imposed a fine of $1,321 on Vattaparamban, convicted of stabbing Father Xavier Thelakkat March 1, 2018, as he descended from the hilltop shrine, about 35 miles north of Cochin.

Father Thelakkat was stabbed after he refused to reinstate the sacristan, whom he had suspended for “misconduct,” including alcoholism at the shrine premise.

In 2004, the Vatican conferred international status to the shrine on the hill where St. Thomas the Apostle was said to have prayed.