First Indian Woman Blessed Alphonsa To Be Canonised On Oct. 12

Blessed Alphonsa from Kottayam, Kerala will be declared as a saint on Oct. 12 this year in the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI. She will be the first Indian woman to be declared a saint.Saturday, Mar. 1, in the consistory hall of the Vatican palace, Pope Benedict XVI held an ordinary public consistory to announce the names of four blessed soon to be inscribed into the roll of saints.Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martens, Prefect of Congregation for the Cause of the Saints, read the list of the blessed: 1. Blessed Fr. Gaetano Errico, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (1791-1860).2. Blessed Maria Bernarda Butler, Swiss foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of Mary Help of Christians (1848-1924).3. Blessed Alfonsa of the Immaculate Conception, Indian professed sister of the Congregation of Poor Clares of the Third Order of St. Francis (1910-1946).4. Blessed Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran, Ecuadorian lay woman (1833-1869)
Then Pope Benedict XVI declared the four blessed will be written into the roll of saints on October 12, 2008.
For the faithful of India, Saturday’s consistory marked an historic first, for Blessed Alphonsa will become the first Indian woman to be declared a saint.Pope John Paul II had had declared Sister Alphonsa as blessed on Fe. 8, 1986, along with Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, also from Kottayam, Kerala.Her tomb at Bharananganam, near Kottaym is visited by large crowds of faithful, throughout the year. Blessed Alphonsa would be the first Indian woman to be declared saint by the Catholic Church.The first Indian saint is a Jesuit, St Gonzalo Garcia, Born in Vasai, near Mumbai and canonised in 1862. He died a martyr’s death in 1597 at Nagasaki, Japan, along with St Paul Miki and other Jesuits.Blessed Alphonsa was born on 19 August 1910 as the fourth child of Muttathupadath Ouseph and Mariam at Kudamaloor, in the Archdiocese of Changanacherry, in the southern state of Kerala. She lost her mother when she was only three months’ old. The sister of her mother brought her up as a beautiful young lady and wanted to marry her off to a well to do family. However, Alphonsa wanted to dedicate her entire life to Jesus Christ like Little Therese. As a culmination of her desire to dedicate her entire life to the Lord, she jointed the Franciscan Clarist Convent at Bharananganam on 2 August 1928 and received the name of Alphonsa. Even though her poor health was a great block to her progress in her religious life for which the superiors wanted to send her home, she persevered in her commitment and earnest desire. After many ordeals, she took her perpetual vows on 12 August 1936. She considered her entire life as a holocaust to the Lord in which the victim would be burning slowly and steadily. Every suffering she offered as a beautiful flower in the wounds of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At the end of her life, she was overwhelmed with great pain and frailty of the body, but in the midst of the excruciating pain she committed her soul to the heavenly bridegroom peacefully reciting the names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph on 28 July 1946. On Friday, 1 June 2007 Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree approving the miracle that took place through the intercession of Blessed Alphonsa, thus paving the way for her canonization.

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