India’s first women saint, no not Mother Teresa
For the first time in the 2000-year history of the Catholic Church, a woman, popularly known as Sister Alphonsa from Kottayam, Kerala, will be declared a saint by Pope Benedict XVI. Sister Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception will be the first woman from
She will be canonised on October 12, a meeting of the
The first was Gonsalo Garcia, canonised in 1862. Garcia, who was from Vasai, was born of an Indian mother and Portuguese father in 1556. He was crucified in 1597 in
Blessed Alphonsa, as she is currently referred to, was beatified in 1986 by the late Pope John Paul II, along with the Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, also from Kottayam, during his first visit to
Mother Teresa was beatified by the Pope on
Sister Alphonsa (1910 - 1946) was born to Ouseph and Mariam Muttathupadathu as Annakkutty Muttathupadathu in Kudamaloor, a rural village near Kottayam in central Kerala.
Alphonsa was not known for her social outreach like Mother Theresa but for her silent sufferings and prayers. Her life was largely confined to the four walls of her convent and to her bed due to illness.
After losing her mother when she was only three months old, she was raised by an aunt who sought to marry her off to a man from a rich family. But Alphonsa insisted on following the example of Theresa of Lisieux and joined the Franciscan Clarist convent in 1928 taking the name Alphonsa.
Despite poor health, she persevered in her commitment to religious life and made perpetual vows on
She suffered serious injuries in 1923 when she fell into a pit of burning chaff. The accident left her permanently disabled.
In December 1936 she was reportedly cured through the intervention of Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, but three years later she was struck by a severe attack of double-pneumonia. Once a thief stumbled into her room in the middle of the night and frightened her leading to memory loss.
She received extreme unction on
She died on
With the canonisation scheduled for October, people from various parts of the state, many of them physically challenged, have started making a beeline for the church to offer prayers and to seek blessing of the Blessed.
Tags: Sister Alphonsa , Saint Gonsalo Garcia , Pope , Vatican
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