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LATEST PHOTOS AND NEWS FROM BHARANANGANAM : EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION & PUBLIC MEETING ON 9 NOVEMBER 2008

PHOTOS OF TOMB OF ST. ALPHONSA BHARANANGANAM, PALAI, INDIA

Photos of Various programmes in Bharananaganam - November 1 to 9, 2008

Devotees visit Saint Alphonsa's grotto on Sunday - Nov 9

Kottayam: In Kottayam district of Kerala, thousand of devotees visited Saint Alphonsa's grotto on Sunday. The grotto was consecrated by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri from the Vatican.

 

A special mass and a thanksgiving celebration was held to mark the canonisation of India's first lady saint near her tomb at Bharananganam.

 

Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in Vatican and former President APJ Abdul Kalam were the chief guests. Archbishops and bishops from churches across India also participated in the function.

 

They include Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, Major Archbishop Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Telesphore Cardinal Toppo of Ranchi, Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil, bishops from sister churches and others will participate.

 

 News taken from http://ibnlive.in.com/news/devotees-visit-saint-alphonsas-grotto-on-sunday/77807-3.html

St Alphonsa is a blessing for all: Kalam

News taken from Manorama daily news:

Kottayam: Former President A P J Abdul Kalam on Sunday said St Alphonsa had become a blessing for all.

Inaugurating a public meeting at her tomb in Bharananganam, near here, organised as part of the canonisation of Sister Alphonsa by Pope Benedict XVI at Vatican on October 12, he said let her spiritual life radiate from Kerala to the entire country and to many nations.

Drawing inspiration from the saint's life of sufferings and endurance, Mr Kalam wrote a poem titled ''sufferings is God's gift.'' St Alphonsa accepted the sufferings with a smile. She knew that silence was the best ornament to wear at the time of sufferings, he said.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Oriental Congregation, presided over the function. Cardinal Toppo, Archbishops Daniel Acharuparambil and Mar George Valiyamattom and bishops of other churches offered felicitation. Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangattu welcomed the gathering.

Earlier, Mr Kalam visited saint's tomb.

Thanksgiving held for Saint Alphonsa in Kerala

 

Kottayam, Mon, 10 Nov 2008 ANI : taken from .www.newstrackindia.com

Kottayam (Kerala), Nov 10 (ANI): Hundreds of thousands of people participated in a 10-day-long thanksgiving celebration for kerala's recently annointed saint Alphonsa.

Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in Vatican and former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam also attended the functionAddressing the gathering Dr.

  Kalam said "We must take a vow in the land Saint Alphonsa was born, that we will remove pain of one person at least. Every month I will remove pain of one person, that really is thanksgiving."

  Sister Alphonsa was born in Kudamaloor in Kerala's Kottayam District in 1910. She joined the Clarist Congregation. She died in 1946 after suffering from various illnesses.

  Sister Alphonsa is credited with having performed some miracles during her lifetime. She was beatified and made blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

  Her tomb at Palai is a famous Christian pilgrimage spot. (ANI)

 

 

INDIA  Thousands From Kerala To Attend

Blessed Alphonsa's Canonization

 

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India (UCAN) -- More than 7,000 people from Kerala state are expected to attend the canonization of Blessed Alphonsa, India's first woman saint, at the Vatican.

 

Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to canonize the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) nun from the southern Indian state, along with three other new saints, on Oct. 12 at the Vatican.

According to Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Palai, 700 priests, 200 seminarians, 2,260 nuns and 3,840 laypeople, aside from bishops, will attend the ceremony. "The first batch of 50 pilgrims already left for Rome on Oct. 1," the prelate told UCA News on Oct. 2. He was scheduled to leave Oct. 5.

Leading the first batch was Father Philip Njaralakkatt, vicar general of Palai diocese, and Father Francis Vadakkel, vice postulator for the cause to canonize Blessed Alphonsa.

A group of FCC nuns led by their superior general, Sister Ceelia Mankuriyil, left for Rome on Oct. 2. Before her departure, Sister Mankuriyil told UCA News about 300 FCC nuns from around the world, including 75 from India, would attend the canonization.

"Blessed Sister Alphonsa's canonization is a historic moment for our congregation as well as the Catholic Church in India. We are making all efforts to ensure maximum participation of our congregation at the event," the 67-year-old nun said.

The FCC, founded in Kerala in 1888, is the largest women's Religious congregation in India.

Participants at the canonization will include Jinil, an 11-year-old Catholic boy whose cure through Blessed Alphonsa's intercession was accepted by the Vatican as a miracle. He and his parents have joined 41 Catholics from their St. Thomas Church Kuruppunthara to travel to Rome on Oct. 5. The parish comes under Kottayam diocese.

"I look forward for the day," an excited Jinil told UCA News over the phone. He said he prays to Blessed Alphonsa every day.

Jinil was born with twisted legs. Soon after his birth, medical experts said that he would be a cripple for life. In 1999, his parents took him to Blessed Alphonsa's shrine, and soon his legs became normal and he started walking.

"She made my life normal, and I am indebted to her for the miracle cure," the fifth-grader said.

However, one disappointed person is Mary Emmanuel, who nursed Blessed Alphonsa on her deathbed. Blessed Alphonsa died in 1946 at the age of 36.

Emmanuel, 90, told UCA News she regrets that she cannot witness the ceremony because she is too old to travel abroad. The elderly woman now lives in an FCC convent in Bharananganam, a village near Palai where Alphonsa spent her last years and where she is buried.

"But I always dreamed of her canonization. She was a very friendly nun and we were like friends," recalled Emmanuel, who is among the few of Blessed Alphonsa's contemporaries still alive.

Meanwhile, the Kerala government has decided to send its minister for public works department as its emissary to the Vatican ceremony.

The Catholic minister, Joseph, told UCA News he is very happy to witness "the great moment" for the Indian Church. "I used to pray to Sister Alphonsa since my childhood and visited her tomb several times," said the minister, a former catechism teacher.

Bishop Kallarangatt said his diocese would hold special programs at Bharananganam on Oct. 12 to mark the event.

As the canonization date draws nearer, the number of visitors to Blessed Alphonsa's tomb has increased, the prelate observed. Hectic renovation work is underway at her tomb and at the convent where she lived, separated by a narrow but busy road.

news taken from www.ucannews.com

 

Canonization of Blessed Alphonsa on 12th October 2008 in Rome

and Eucharistic Celebration and Public Meeting

at Bharananganam    on 9th November 2008

 

          Blessed Alphonsa, a catholic nun of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation will be raised to sainthood on 12th October 2008 in Rome. It is an unique and spectacular event in the annals of the history of the Catholic Church in India. Blessed Alphonsa was born in a middle class Syrian Catholic family on 19th August 1910 at Kudamaloor, a small village in Kerala. Her parents were devoted Catholics. After her schooling, she joined the convent at Bharananganam. She had a secluded and unknown life in the convent. Her chronic illness made her to suffer a lot. She was a mystic. She was called to eternal life on 28th July 1946. Her mortal remains are kept in the cemetery at Bharananganam. Soon after her death, her spiritual fragrance spread far and wide. Sensing her Holiness, her canonization process was started in 1953. She was declared Venerable on 1984 and blessed on 1986 by H.H. the Pope John Paul II. Now she will be raised to sainthood.

          The sacred ceremony for the canonization of Blessed Alphonsa commences on October 12th 2008 at 9.30 a.m. in the St.Peter’s Square in Vatican. The participants will walk in procession to the Papal Podium where during the Holy Qurbana (Sacred Liturgy) Blessed Alphonsa and three other blesseds will be declared Saints of the Catholic Church by H.H. the Pope Benedict XVI. Mar Joseph Powathil, Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, Mar Joseph Pallikaparampil, Mar George Valiamattam, Mar Andrews Thazhath, Mar Mathew Moolakatt, Mar Joseph Perumthottam, Mar Mathew Arackal including Major Archbishop Mar Varkey Vithayathil will be the concelebrants with the Pope. Over one hundred Bishops, many priests, religious and lay people of the Syro-Malabar, Malankara and Latin rites are expected to take part in this sacred ceremony.

          On the following day at 8.30 a.m. a Concelebrated Holy Qurbana is being arranged at Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. Almost all the Bishops of the three rites in Rome, along with the priests, religious and layman may take part in this celebration.

          At the same time many relevant programmes are being arranged at Bharananganam also. There will be Holy Qurbana from 5.30  to 11.30 a,m. in every hour at Alphonsa Chapel Bharananganam on 12th October. Mission League of the Bharananganam Forane has arranged a procession carrying the statue of the Saint in that area. This procession will reach the venue at 11.30 a.m. Geevarghese Mar Divannyasios the bishop of Bathery will celebrate Solemn Holy Mass at 11.30 a.m. Arrangements have been made to live telecast of the sacred ceremony in Vatican. This programme will be from 12.30 to 4.30 p.m.

          Then Rev. Msgr. George Choorakatt will celebrate Solemn Holy Mass at 4.30 p.m. followed by a solemn procession in the church premises.

          Various spiritual programmes have been arranged from October 31st to November 9th. There will be Solemn Holy Mass at Alphonsa Chapel on all these days at 8.15 a.m., 11.00 a.m. and 4.15 p.m.

          Seminars on the life and spirituality of the Saint are being arranged for laymen on 6th afternoon and for religious, a full day seminar on 7th. Cultural programmes are also arranged on 6th and 7th evening. On the 8th October 101 novices of the Clarist Congregation will take their first religious profession and receive their religious habit. This will be followed by a candle light procession.

          The culmination of the spiritual celebration is the Concelebrated Holy Mass and a Public Meeting on 9th October. The Public Meeting commences exactly at  2.30 p.m. This meeting will be presided over by H.E. Leonardo Sandri and Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, former President of the Republic of India will inaugurate the general assembly. Mar Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop will welcome the gathering. Papal Nuntio Pedro Lopez Quintana, Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Acharuparampil, Mar Joseph Perumthottam, Mar Joseph Powathil, Mar Joseph Pallikaparampil, Mother Ceelia FCC, Fr. Francis Vadakkel,  Fr. Sebastian Mundumoozhikkara , Dr. A T Devasia will speak on the occasion. Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, the Bishop of Palai, will propose a vote of thanks.

          The Concelebrated Holy Mass is expected to begin at 4.15 p.m. Mar Varkey Vithayathil will officiate as the main celebrant. Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Catholicos will give the homily during the Holy Mass. The celebration is supposed to be closed by 6.30 p.m.

 

Videos of Canonization Ceremony in Rome, Oct.12, 2008

SOME IMPORTANT DATES IN THE LIFE OF ST. ALPHONSA

 

First Indian woman to be conferred sainthood

The miracle lives on. Sixty years after her death, Kerala-born nun Sister Alphonsa became the first Indian woman to be conferred sainthood. Not many

 

people outside Kerala would have earlier heard of her. But now, her name is invoked in Church masses the world over.

Her miraculous presence is being desired everywhere. After Pope Benedict XVI recently elevated her to sainthood at the Vatican, schools, churches and even film directors in India have not been far behind in paying their tributes.

Rechristening ceremonies, films on her life, documentaries, plays, miniatures and CDs— they all want to be associated with her divine power. In fact, three churches in the United States were also named after Sister Alphonsa before her canonization.

Similarly many churches in Kerala like the Blessed Alphonsa Church in Alphonsagiri and Alphonsapuram have been re-christened after her. Even in Delhi, The Blessed Alphonsa’s Church in Vasant Kunj will now be called Saint Alphonsa’s Church. “The rechristening ceremony was organised to coincide with the canonization in Rome,” says Parish Priest, Father Alphonse Arokiam.

A lot has been happening after she was conferred the divine status. Special masses and public meetings have been arranged in and around Bharananganam, the place where Sister Alphonsa lived. Former president APJ Abdul Kalam is also expected to be present in the ceremony on November 3 with the Bishops of the Catholic Church from all over India. About one lakh people are expected to attend the ceremony.

And just in case you haven’t got the chance to see her tomb in Bharananganam — the site of multiple miracles, you needn’t worry. “A relic of St Alphonsa will be brought soon to churches in the Delhi region for public veneration,” says Father Dominic Vechoor, chancellor of the diocese of Palai.

Educational institutions like the Alphonsa College in Palai will now be called St Alphonsa College. Media departments of churches as well as secular organisations have chosen to spread awareness about her life. A new play called Alphonsamma will also be performed in November in Kerala.

Director duo Jayeendra Sharma and Jose Roopakala will soon direct a film based on the real life of sister Alphonsa. Adds Father Vechoor. “There is a serial on St Alphonsa every Sunday evening on Asianet. Shooting of a few films and telefilms are going on and will be released shortly.”

She has also been the subject of about 50 books till date. 9 CDs of songs and dramatic narratives and telefilms are also available. Miniatures and images of St Alphonsa can now be purchased from the main bookstalls in Kerala. What’s more the crowds thronging Bharananganam after sister Alphonsa’s sainthood has made sure that civic authorities work towards better roads and pathways. Now, that’s what we call a real miracle.

The Blessed Alphonsa’s Church in New Delhi will now be called Saint Alphonsa’s Church. There is a serial on St Alphonsa every Sunday evening on Asianet. A few films and telefilms will be released soon. There are 50 books on her, and CDs and miniatures are being sold.

CANONIZATION OF ST.ALPHONSA , ROME,  12 OCTOBER 2008

 

    The Holy Father announced it during a consistory, which has been held today in Vatican. The Consistory began at 11.00 am, Italian local time with the mid day prayer, followed by the final confirmation of the closing of the process of canonization and the formal announcement of the exact date of the canonization ceremony, which will take place at 9.00 am, local time on 12 October at St. Peter’s Square, Vatican. On the same day three other blessed will also be canonized. It is expected that the canonization ceremony will be attended by thousands of faithful from all over the world, especially from Kerala.

As per the decision of the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council, we are planning to conduct a celebration in Kerala at Bharananganam on Sunday 09 November 2008. It will be preceded by several spiritual programmes in the days before, the culmination of which is the solemn Eucharistic celebration at 2.00 pm on 09-11-2008, followed by a Public meeting.

All the Catholic Bishop’s of India have been invited to this function. We expect more than a hundred Bishops, thousands of priests, nuns and lakhs of faithful to this function. Many arrangements are made at Bharananganam.

Sister Alphonsa is first Indian Catholic nun to be made saint:

( News taken from  www. mangalorean.com/news )

Vatican City, Oct 12 (IANS) "She suffered herself to heal the suffering of others," is how Pope Benedict XVI poignantly described Kerala nun Sister Alphonsa while declaring her a saint at a canonisation ceremony at St. Peter's Square here Sunday. Saint Alphonsa became the first Indian Catholic woman to be so anointed.

Around 25,000 people of Indian origin as well as a large delegation from India watched the ceremony, which began at 12 p.m. (Indian time) and culminated at 2.40 p.m.

Alphonsa is the first woman saint of the Indian church, which claims 2,000 years of history.

The final ceremony for the canonisation began with the holy relics of Alphonsa being presented to the Pope by Sister Celia, mother general of the Franciscan Clarist congregation - the congregation that Sister Alphonsa belonged to. Celia was accompanied by Vice Postulator Father Francis Vadakkel and former Kerala minister K.M. Mani, all holding lighted candles.

Speaking in English, the Pope declared Sister Alphonsa a saint, after reading excerpts from the Holy Bible.

Reading from the Bible in Latin, the Pope said: "He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces" (Is 25:8).

"These words of the prophet Isaiah contain the promise, which sustained Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception through a life of extreme physical and spiritual suffering. This exceptional woman, who today is offered to the people of India as their first canonized saint, was convinced that her cross was the very means of reaching the heavenly banquet prepared for her by the Father. By accepting the invitation to the wedding feast, and by adorning herself with the garment of God's grace through prayer and penance, she conformed her life to Christ's and now delights in the fare and choice wines' of the heavenly kingdom (cf. Is 25:6). She wrote, 'I consider a day without suffering as a day lost'. May we imitate her in shouldering our own crosses so as to join her one-day in paradise," the Pope said.

The Pope himself read out the biography of Alphonsa after the ceremony.

The rituals began at 12 noon (Indian time) Sunday. At least 25,000 Indian origin people, a majority from Kerala, where Saint Alphonsa belongs, gathered at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican to attend the historic moment. Many were waving the Indian flag during the ceremony.

A 15-member official Indian delegation, led by Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes, attended the ceremony. A Catholic delegation from India also attended the event.

Sister Alphonsa was third in the number of four saints canonized Sunday. Gaetano Errico, born Oct 19, 1791, in Italy was canonized first. The second was Mary Bernard, born in Switzerland May 28, 1848. The third was Sister Alphonsa.

Narcisa De Jesús Martillo Morán, born in 1832 in Ecuador, was the fourth to be canonised.

Thousands of devotees from across the world attended the ceremony.

The programme started with a prayer in Latin language. A booklet of the procedures was distributed among the devotees. The chapter regarding Sister Alphonsa was also written in her mother tongue, Malayalam.

Pope Benedict had cleared Sister Alphonsa's name for canonisation on June 1, 2007, a process that was started 55 years ago. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986 in Kottayam, 40 years after her death, in recognition of the numerous miracles associated with her.

Alphonsa was born in Kudamaloor, a village near Kottayam, to Joseph and Mary Aug 19, 1910, and after facing several health problems she died July 28, 1946, in Bharnanganam.

She is the second saint from India to be canonised.

In the 19th century, Saint Gonsalo Garcia, born in Vasai near Mumbai to an Indian mother and Portuguese father in 1556, was declared a saint.

Bells chime in Kerala as devout mark sainthood of Alphonsa

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 12 (IANS) Bells tolled across Catholic churches in Kerala Sunday and tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of the devout as far away in the Vatican the Pope declared Sister Alphonsa a saint, the first Indian Catholic woman to be canonised.

It is a Sunday that Catholics in Kerala will never forget.

The Catholic community in the state comprises of the Roman Catholic, Latin Catholic and the Malankara Syrian Church, which together constitute over 50 percent of the Christian community that comprises 23 percent of the 32 million population of Kerala.

The most excitement was witnessed at the St Mary's Church, Bharananganam, in Kottayam district, where the tomb of Saint Alphonsa is located. Since early morning, thousands came to pray at her tomb.

Thousands waited patiently at church premises for the moment, and when the proclamation was made by the Pope, the bells chimed and many were seen in deep prayer.

At several Catholic churches, the function at the Vatican was beamed live on widescreen television sets.

"This is something unbelievable and I am really excited that I hail from the place associated with Saint Alphonsa," said Saramma Thomas. "You just wait and see, this church (at Bharananganam) will now scale newer heights. It has already witnessed miracles both small and big. From now on it will be a busy church and lots of miracles are going to be witnessed," she said.

The main celebration at Bharananganam will be held Nov 9, and is expected to draw around 100,000 people. The event will be presided over by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, head of the Congregation of Oriental Churches in the Vatican, and former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Alphonsa was born in Kudamaloor, a village near Kottayam, to Joseph and Mary on Aug 19, 1910.

Having lost her mother at a very young age, she was brought up by her maternal aunt and educated by an uncle who was a priest. She faced several health problems, which eventually claimed her life on July 28, 1946.

On Dec 2, 1953, Eugène-Gabriel-Gervais-Laurent Cardinal Tisserant inaugurated the diocesan process for her beatification and Alphonsa was declared a 'Servant of God'. On July 9, 1985, she received the title Venerable Sister Alphonsa.

She was beatified on Feb 8, 1986, by Pope John II at the Nehru Stadium in Kottayam.

From now on, new churches will be consecrated in her honour, people can pray in her name and children can be named after her.

 

 

However, for the rest of the Christian community, it was business as usual. The day passed off as another Sunday, with not even a mention of what was taking place in the Vatican.

 

Alphonsa dedicated herself to Jesus at age 7

Vatican, Oct 12 (IANS) Kerala nun Sister Alphonsa, who at the age of seven had dedicated herself to serving Jesus Christ, calling him "my divine Spouse", was greatly disturbed when her family decided to get her married at 13.

She prayed fervently and even contemplated disfiguring herself to escape the torment, according to a biography of her prepared by the Vatican ahead of her canonisation Sunday.

Following is the biography of Sister Alphonsa prepared by the Vatican:

"Blessed ALPHONSA OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION was born in Kudamalur, the Arpookara region, in diocese of Changanacherry, India, on the 19th of August 1910, of the ancient and noble family of Muttathupadathu.

From her birth, the life of the Blessed was marked by the cross, which would be progressively revealed to her as the royal way to conform herself to Christ. Her mother, Maria Puthukari, gave birth to her prematurely, in her eight month of pregnancy, as a result of a fright she received when, during the sleep, a snake wrapped itself around her waist. Eight days later, the 28 of August, the child was baptised according to the Syro-Malabar rite by the Fr. Joseph Chackalayil, and she received the name Annakutty, a diminutive of Anne. She was the last of five children.

Her mother died three months later. Annakutty passed her early infancy in the home of her grandparents in Elumparambil. There she lived a particularly happy time because of her human and Christian formation, during which the first seeds of a vocation flowered. Her grand-mother, a pious and charitable woman, communicated the joy of the faith, love for prayer and a surge of charity towards the poor to her. At five years of age the child already knew how to lead, with a totally childish enthusiasm, the evening prayer of the family gathered, in accordance with the Syro-Malabar custom, in the "prayer room".

Annakutty received the Eucharistic bread for the first time on the 11 of November 1917. She used to say to her friends: "Do you know why I am so particularly happy today? It is because I have Jesus in my heart!". In a letter to her spiritual father, on the 30 of November 1943, she confided the following: "Already from the age of seven I was no longer mine. I was totally dedicated to my divine Spouse. Your reverence knows it well".

In the same year of 1917 she began to attend the elementary school of Thonnankuzhy, where she also established a sincere friendship with the Hindu children. When the first school cycle ended in 1920, the time had come to transfer to Muttuchira, to the house of her aunt Anna Murickal, to whom her mother, before she died, had entrusted her as her adoptive mother.

Her aunt was a severe and demanding woman, at times despotic and violent in demanding obedience from Annakutty in her every minimal disposition or desire. Assiduous in her religious practice, she accompanied her niece, but did not share the young girl's friendship with the Carmelites of the close-by Monastery or her long periods of prayer at the foot of the altar. She was, in fact, determined to procure an advantageous marriage for Annakutty, obstructing the clear signs of her religious vocation.

The virtue of the Blessed was manifested in accepting this severe and rigid education as a path of humility and patience for the love of Christ, and tenaciously resisted the reiterated attempts at engagement to which the aunt tried to oblige her. Annakutty, in order to get out from under a commitment to marriage, reached the point of voluntarily causing herself a grave burn by putting her foot into a heap of burning embers. "My marriage was arranged when I was thirteen years old. What had I to do to avoid it? I prayed all that night... then an idea came tome. If my body were a little disfigured no one would want me! ... O, how I suffered! I offered all for my great intention".

The proposal to defile her singular beauty did not fully succeed in freeing her from the attentions of suitors. During the following years the Blessed had to defend her vocation, even during the year of probation when an attempt to give her in marriage, with the complicity of the Mistress of Formation herself, was made. "O, the vocation which I received! A gift of my good God!.... God saw the pain of my soul in those days. God distanced the difficulties and established me in this religious state".

It was Fr. James Muricken, her confessor, who directed her towards Franciscan spirituality and put her in contact with the Congregation of the Franciscan Clarists. Annakutty entered their college in Bharananganam in the diocese of Palai, to attend seventh class, as an intern student, on the 24th of May 1927. The following year, on the 2nd of August 1928, Annakutty began her postulancy, taking the name of Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception in honour of St. Alphonsus Liguori, whose feast it was that day. She was clothed in the religious habit on the 19th of May 1930, during the first pastoral visit made to Bharananganam by the Bishop, Msgr. James Kalacherry.

The period 1930-1935 was characterised by grave illness and moral suffering. She could teach the children in the school at Vakakkad only during the scholastic year 1932. Then, because of her weakness, she carried out the duties of assistant-teacher and catechist in the parish. She was engaged also as secretary, especially to write official letters because of her beautiful script.

The canonical novitiate was introduced into the Congregation of the Franciscan Clarists in 1934. Though wishing to enter immediately, the Blessed was only admitted on the 12th of August 1935 because of her ill health. About one week after the beginning of her novitiate, she had a haemorrhage from the nose and eyes and a profound organic wasting and purulent wounds on her legs. The illness deteriorated, to such a point that the worst was feared.

Heaven came to the rescue of the holy novice. During a novena to The Servant of God Fr. Kuriakose Elia Chavara - a Carmelite who today is a Blessed-she wasmiraculously and instantaneously cured.

Having restarted her novitiate, she wrote the following proposals in her spiritual diary: "I do not wish to act or speak according to my inclinations. Every time I fail, I will do penance... I want to be careful never to reject anyone. I will only speak sweet words to others. I want to control my eyes with rigour. I will ask pardon of the Lord for every little failure and I will atone for it through penance. No matter what my sufferings may be, I will never complain and if I have to undergo any humiliation, I will seek refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus".

The 12th of August 1936, the feast of St. Clare, the day of her perpetual profession, was a day of inexpressible spiritual joy. She had realised her desire, guarded for a long time in her heart and confided to her sister Elizabeth when she was only 12 years old: "Jesus is my only Spouse, and none other".

Jesus, however, wished to lead His spouse to perfection through a life of suffering. "I made my perpetual profession on the 12th of August 1936 and came here to Bharanganam on the following 14th. From that time, it seems, I was entrusted with a part of the cross of Christ. There are abundant occasions of suffering... I have a great desire to suffer with joy. It seems that my Spouse wishes to fulfil this desire".

Painful illnesses followed each other: typhoid fever, double pneumonia, and, the most serious of all, a dramatic nervous shock, the result of a fright on seeing a thief during the night of the 18th of October 1940. Her state of psychic incapacity lasted for about a year, during which she was unable to read or write.

In every situation, Sister Alphonsa always maintained a great reservation and charitable attitude towards the Sisters, silently undergoing her sufferings. In 1945 she had a violent outbreak of illness. A tumour, which had spread throughout her organs, transformed her final year of life into a continuous agony. Gastroenteritis and liver problems caused violent convulsions and vomiting up to forty times a day: "I feel that the Lord has destined me to be an oblation, a sacrifice of suffering... I consider a day in which I have not suffered as a day lost to me".

With this attitude of a victim for the love of the Lord, happy until the final moment and with a smile of innocence always on her lips, Sister Alphonsa quietly and joyfully brought her earthly journey to a close in the convent of the Franciscan Clarists at Bharananganam at 12.30 on the 28th July 1946, leaving behind the memory of a Sister full of love and a saint.

Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception Muttathupadathu was proclaimed Blessed by Pope John Paul II in Kottayam, India, on the 8th of February 1986.

With today's Canonisation, the Church in India presents its first Saint to the veneration of the faithful of the whole world. Faithful from every part of the world have come together in a single act of thanksgiving to God in her name and in a sign of the great oriental and western traditions, Roman and Malabar, which Sr. Alphonsa lived and harmonised in her saintly life.

'She sang with me, cut vegetables: that's my Alphonsamma'

Kozhikode (Kerala), Oct 12 (IANS) Sister Mary is 91 but clearly remembers the days when "Alphonsamma", annointed a saint by the Pope Sunday, would join the youngsters in mowing the lawn and cutting vegetables in the kitchen at a convent.

Sister Mary is the only nun alive in the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) who had spent time with Sister Alphonsa. She never tires of recounting to eager listeners her days as a young nun in a convent at Bharananganam in Kottayam district, the hometown of Alphonsa

Sister Alphonsa was seven years older than her, says Sister Mary, who now stays at the FCC convent in Kodancherry, 40 km from here.

Recounting her first meeting with Sister Alphonsa, she says: "When I decided to become a nun, sisters at the convent at Bharananganam asked me to go there and meet them. When I reached, senior nuns welcomed me and asked me to sing a song. I was shy and hesitant. Then Alphonsamma (Mother Alphonsa) came forward and told me she would join me if I selected a piece that she also knew. She stood closely beside me and we sang together."

Sister Alphonsa had a pretty and innocent face, says Mary.

"She used to join us in all our chores, removing grass on the convent's courtyard and cutting vegetables in the kitchen."

Mary treasures in her prayer book two pictures - a picture card of Jesus Christ and the other a rare photograph of Sister Alphonsa's body in the coffin. The picture of Jesus is not any ordinary one. "Alphonsamma gave me this Jesus' card as a gift when I went away on transfer to another convent," she says with a gleam in her eyes.

"In those days, photographs of funerals were not common. But when the coffin of Sister Alphonsa reached the church, the vicar said that a photograph was in order. We all lined up behind the coffin for the photo."

Mary still vividly remembers the last day of Sister Alphonsa.

"It was a Sunday. She then used to have visits of mystic ecstasy regularly and told the vicar the day before that 'he' (ecstasy) would visit her next day. On Sunday, she had the experience while in the chapel. Later, when we went to her room she was lying on her cot in cold perspiration. Soon after she died in our presence."

As per customs, the body of a nun is carried to church by her relatives, but Sister Mary too lent a hand.

"The relatives could not reach on time as travel was not easy in those days. The funeral was held the next day and it was us who carried the coffin. Ten of us stood on each side of the coffin; we even stamped on each others toes," she said.

Sister Alphonsa became Saint Alphonsa after she was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI at a ceremony at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican Sunday. The ceremony was attended by around 25,000 people of Indian origin as well as a large delegation from India.

Alphonsa was always determined to be nun

Kozhikode (Kerala), Oct 12 (IANS) Alphonsa, or Annakutty as she was born, was not one to be cowed down by tragedies.

She lost her mother when she was barely two months old. At the age of 14, tragedy struck again when she suffered severe burns and was not able to continue her studies. But her mind was made up - she wanted to be a nun and serve Jesus Christ.

Alphonsa was annointed a saint by the Pope Sunday at a ceremony in the Vatican.

Saint Alphonsa was born in Kudamaloor, a typical Kerala hamlet in Kottayam district, on Aug 19, 1910, to Ouseph and Mariamma. After her mother passed away, Annakutty was in the custody of her maternal uncle.

In 1916, she began her schooling in Arpookara and received her First Holy Communion on Nov 27, 1917.

Seven years later, in 1924, Annakutty suffered severe burns and had to discontinue her studies.

But by then she was determined to become a nun and made it clear that no one should decide on what she should do.

Finally in 1928, Annakutty joined the Franciscan Clarist Convent at Bharananganam and later moved to a convent near Changnacherry, also in Kottayam district.

By then she became Sister Alphonsa to all. She soon fell ill and was brought back to the Bharanganam convent. For a short period she was a teacher at the Vakakkadu School.

She faced her illness with a lot of courage and determination and found solace through prayers. She died at a fairly young age of 35 on July 28, 1946.

She was buried at the St Mary's Church at Bharananganam, which according to records was established in 1004.

History points out that the village Bharananganam has had very important visitors like St. Thomas, the founder of Christianity in the country, social reformer Sree Narayana Guru and Mother Theresa, to name a few.

According to legend, a portion of the cross used to crucify Jesus Christ is kept at the St Mary's Church.

Archaeologists unearthed coins belonging to the Buddha era (563-483 BC), and silver coins of the 18th century from Bharananganam. The place is considered to be a settlement of early Buddhists.

With the presence of the more than 1,000 year old church, the shrine grew in significance and people started getting solace after praying at the tomb of Sister Alphonsa.

Over the years, the importance of the shrine increased with stories of miracles after praying at her tomb.

People claimed they were cured of their sickness after praying at her tomb.

On Dec 2, 1953, Eugène-Gabriel-Gervais-Laurent Cardinal Tisserant inaugurated the diocesan process for her beatification and Alphonsa was declared a Servant of God.

From then on, it was only a matter of time for even more glory to be bestowed on her. On July 9, 1985, Alphonsa was given the title Venerable Sister Alphonsa.

Then came the big day when she was beatified on Feb 8, 1986, along with Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara by Pope John II at Nehru Stadium in Kottayam.

Pope Benedict XVI cleared her name for canonisation on June 1, 2007.

The date, Oct 12, 2008, for canonization was announced by the Vatican in the last week of February this year.

Indian cardinal in Rome for Alponsa canonisation takes ill

New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, head of the Indian Catholic delegation that is in Vatican City for the canonisation of Kerala nun Sister Alphonsa, has been hospitalised due to chest pain, members of the Indian delegation said Sunday.

itted to hospital Saturday, could not attend the holy mass at the Basilica of St. Anthony where Sister Alphonsa's biography was read out.

Congress legislator K.V. Thomas, who is part of the Indian delegation, confirmed the news and said Vithayathil's condition is stable now.

He will not be able to attend the canonisation ceremony as he will be in hospital, a delegation member said.

Pope Benedict had cleared Sister Alphonsa's name for canonisation on June 1, 2007, a process that was started 55 years ago. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986 in Kottayam, 40 years after her death.

Alphonsa was born in Kudamaloor, a village near Kottayam, to Joseph and Mary Aug 19, 1910, and after facing several health problems she died July 28, 1946, in Bharnanganam.

She will be the second saint from India to be canonised.

In the 19th century, Saint Gonsalo Garcia, born in Vasai near Mumbai to an Indian mother and Portuguese father in 1556, was declared a saint.

Orissa Christians hold special prayers for Sister Alphonsa

Bhubaneswar, Oct 12 (IANS) Thousands of Christians across Orissa, including those living in relief camps in troubled Kandhamal district, offered special prayers for Kerala nun Sister Alphonsa, who will be canonised in the Vatican City Sunday.

"Special prayers were held in all churches in urban areas and district headquarters across the state for Sister Alphonsa's dedicated service to humanity," Asit Kumar Mohanty, regional coordinator of Global Council of Indian Christians, told IANS.

People gathered in large numbers at all 56 churches in Bhubaneswar and in over 25 churches in adjoining Cuttack city.

Christians also offered prayers in relief camps in Kandhamal where anti-Christian attacks have claimed at least 36 lives and rendered thousands of Christians homeless in the past one month.

The violence erupted Aug 23 after the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and four others at his ashram in Kandhamal. Maoists have claimed responsibility for the murder, but many Hindu groups hold Christians responsible for it.

Pope Benedict had cleared Sister Alphonsa's name for canonisation on June 1, 2007, a process that was started 55 years ago. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986 in Kottayam, 40 years after her death.

Alphonsa was born in Kudamaloor, a village near Kottayam, to Joseph and Mary Aug 19, 1910, and after facing several health problems she died July 28, 1946, in Bharnanganam.

She will be the second saint from India to be canonised.

In the 19th century, Saint Gonsalo Garcia, born in Vasai near Mumbai to an Indian mother and Portuguese father in 1556, was declared a saint.

 

 

Comments of Many  faithful from abroad, kerala and India_

 

Alfred lobo, Kuwait

Oct 17, 2008

PRAISE THE LORD GOD IS GREAT LONG LIVE INDIA MAY GOD GIVE GOOD HEALTH TO OUR BELOVED POPE

 

Elizabeth Sequeira, USA

Oct 13, 2008

St. Alphonsa, your cananisation is the Manna to the Indian Catholic Churches today, where She is suffering greatly with all kinds of attacks from the radicals. In the midst of all these sorrows, your ray of hope is shining and strengthening our faith not only in India, but all over the world. Dear St. Alphonsamme, pray for all the religious and political leaders in India, give them wisdom to lead the people in harmony and brotherhood!

Praise the Lord!

 

 

gaspar almeida, India

Oct 13, 2008

Will this event lead now to the canonisation of two Goan priests, Blessed Fr. Agnelo De Souza (Padr. Agnelo) and Blessed Fr. Jose Vaz (Padr. Jose Vaz).
Let us all pray.


C. Gaspar Almeida
www.goa-world.com

 

 

susheela Rodrigues/Albuquerque, Italy

Oct 13, 2008

I am glad that I was present to witness the cannonisation of Sr. Alphonsa to St. Alphonsa, here in Rome. It was a great feeling to be amidst so many Indians come from different parts of the world to celebrate this wonderful occassion. Every time Sr. Alphonsa's name was mentioned the Indian flags would rise up. I am proud to be an Indian and a Roman Catholic and prouder now after the cannonisation of Sr. Alphonsa. God bless us all

 

 

Venkat, India

Oct 12, 2008

"Pope Benedict had cleared Sister Alphonsa's name for canonisation on June 1, 2007, a process that was started 55 years ago."

I'm just curious. Why did it take so long for them to acknowledge an Indian Saint?

Second question - Is this a recognition to her miracles or her good work?
Some learned men sould enlighten me.

Thanks.

 

 

Lancelot Tauro, Qatar

Oct 12, 2008

Proud to be an Indian, Praise the LORD. St. Alphonsa Pray for us and Heal us.

 

A.S. Mathew, USA

Oct 12, 2008

A glorious day for the Indian Christians, and it is more meaningful because the Christians are under severe attack. This news is spreading
through CNN around the world. Glory to God.

 

Joel, India

Oct 12, 2008

Its really good news for all Indians. St Alphonsa Pray for us, especialy in India where many churchs and christian people have been attacked. Brings Peace and LOve to our country and to rest of the world.

 

issac, UAE

Oct 12, 2008

Blessed and St Alphonsa, Pray for all Christians being persecuted in India in the name of religion and conversions. Please pray for increase in Christain faith.

 

 

HARRY, India

Oct 12, 2008

LET ALL OF US TAKE AND WALK IN HER PATH.

 

mabel v menezes, India

Oct 12, 2008

Great honor praise the Lord we being Indians are proud to have our first saint. Long live our Pope.

 

 

Prakash, Saudi Arabia

Oct 12, 2008

Let this lead to a new begining for better understanding, harmony & peaceful dwelling among all the communities.

 

 

News taken from www.Mnagalorean.com/news

 

 

 

 

 

Story of India’s first saint, her suffering and glory

 

October 12, 2008, news taken from :www.theindiancatholic.com

 

Oct. 12 would be a great day for the Church in India, and for the Muttathupadam family of Kerala. A daughter of the family, Alphonsa, will become the first Indian saint of the Catholic Church. The saint’s nephew Father Kurian C. Muttathupadam, a priest in Jalandhar diocese, recalls the remarkable life of his aunt, who died 62 years ago.
BEING the first Indian woman to be accorded the title and status of a saint by the Catholic Church, it is a matter of privilege and pride not only for the Muttathupadam family but also for the whole ecclesiastical community of our country. My aunt now belongs to a larger family and is going to be projected by the Church as the model and example of the heroic practice of Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity.

I was yet a four-year-old boy when aunt Annakutty left for her heavenly home. I never had the privilege of personally meeting this saintly aunt of mine. My knowledge about her has come to me from my grandparents and parents.

Remembrance of Alphonsa became significant in the family only after her death. When schoolchildren visited her tomb at Bharananganam to seek her intercession with God for their success in examinations and when she interceded for them, they spoke about her closeness to God, which he had granted to her because of her faithfulness to him. Elders took up the practice of seeking her intercession in matters material and spiritual. Her name and fame had already crossed the boundaries of Kerala to reach other parts of India and even the whole world.

I was eight when I heard from my grandfather about the miracles that used to take place at Bharananganam due to the intercession of Alphonsa.

On his return from his usual eye treatment itineraries in the Meenachil area, I vividly remember how he used to narrate to the family the devotion and gratitude with which people from far and near approached the tomb of aunt Annakutty to seek her help in obtaining favours from God.

Grandma Annamma, hailing from an Ayurvedic vaid’s family Chakala in Changanacherry, continued to narrate many things to us about our saintly aunt.

She had witnessed Annakutty’s infancy; the charity with which Murical Peramma, Annakutty’s maternal aunt, had taken her home after the death of her mother, three months after her birth; her return to Arpookara as a smart little girl, ready to go to the local school. Grandma would tell us about the school-going Annakutty, treading the dusty road of Arpookara village.

Early signs


Our grandma would highlight for us the virtue of forgiveness that shined forth in aunt Annakutty when she forgave the boy, who had pushed her down from a ladder-fence that she used to cross on her way to the government school at Arpookara. She even desisted from reporting the matter to the teachers of the school.

Grandma would attribute this mode of living to the influence, the two priests from the Muttathupadam family, had on the rest of the family members. They were Fr. Joseph Muttathupadam, Annakutty’s granduncle and Fr. Emmanuel Muttathupadam TOCD (popularly known as Kanimusa Manikattanar,) an uncle of Annakutty, a scripture scholar and the first priest to translate into Malayalam the New Testament portion of The Bible and parts of the Old Testament from the Syriac language.

She had completed her studies up to class III at the government school at Thonnamkuzhy, Arpookara. She was then 10 years old. She was privileged to spend the most impressionable years of her life in the Muttathupadam family itself.

After having absorbed many Christian values here, she moved out of this village to Murican family at Muttuchira through the process of an informal adoption. Her maternal aunt, who had nurtured her in her infancy, had no girl child and was in need of one. This need was presented to the father of Annakutty, who reluctantly consented to the idea.

Annakutty continued her studies at Muttuchira. When she completed her 13th year, she burnt her feet in the paddy-husk-incinerator at the Muricans. As the news of the burning of the feet of Annakutty reached her father, he, assisted by Pazhoor Autha, a neighbour and family friend, left for Muttuchira in a country boat to bring her home for treatment. It was my grandparents, who took over the situation and initiated the treatment by puncturing the swollen skin on her feet to let the puss ooze out and then to clean the wound with ayurvedic concoctions made at home.

Annakutty had then told my grandma that this incident took place while she was playing hide and seek with her cousins at the Muricans. After this incident, people at Muttathupadam wondered how a marriage proposal could now come for a girl of 13. Annakutty had kept as a guarded secret the real reason for this daring act of burning her feet until she was 20.

Daring sacrifice

When she was 18, Annakutty joined the Franciscan Clarist Congregation at Bharananganam as an aspirant for religious life. At 20, she became a nun in the same congregation. It was then that she revealed to her spiritual director the real reason for burning her feet. She had done so to reject the marriage proposals that haunted her.

After her death in July 1946 at the Franciscan Clarist Convent, Bharananganam, when her cause was taken up for beatification in December 1953, the ‘devil’s advocate’ at the Vatican argued that the attempt by the servant of God Alphonsa to burn her feet at the age of 13 was un-Christian. Consequently, the whole case of her beatification was shelved for a couple of years. But, more research was done and new arguments were brought forward that her action could also be read as a heroic attempt to reject marriage for the sake of Kingdom of God and to accept another state of perfection, that is, the religious life.

April 13, 1957, was one of the happiest days in the life of my father, Cherian Vaidyan. He was present in the vice-postulator’s office in Bharananganam when the tomb of his cousin Annakutty was opened for the first time for the medico-ecclesiastical examination of her mortal remains.

He was told by the then vice-postulator Fr. Moothedath that even 11 years after her death, her mortal remains were blessed with many miraculous signs that could be accepted as signs of her holiness: the part of her religious habit from neck to the knee was intact, possibly indicating the life of modesty and purity that she lived. Though the flesh had been disintegrated totally, the heart remained intact but in a dried up state. Day in and day out she had loved her Lord with her whole heart. The skeleton remained undamaged. The veil on the head and her trimmed hair underneath it seemed fresh; they protruded out on the skull-bone. A rose that was fixed on her clasped palms at the funeral was still there, though in a dried form. Her mortal remains were then encased in a steel coffin and were reburied in the same tomb.

Tomorrow, when one of their daughters is being raised to the honours of the altar, is a great day for members of the Muttathupadam family. The Church in India, with its multi-cultural and ritual traditions, rejoice together as a family when, for the first time, one of her members is being declared a Saint by the Head of the Universal Church, Pope Benedict XVI.

Alphonsa challenges the contemporary society on various counts. Those who contemplate suicide as a solution to their problems should turn to this saintly nun to learn from her the ways of facing suffering and sickness, failure and frustration. "Act with faith in God and in the fellow human beings" is the advice Alphonsa gives to the members of society, which is clogged up in purely material matters. The panacea she prescribes for the psychological and sociological deficiencies in contemporary society is to uphold the dignity of every human being.

Alphonsa was a person, who practised love in its most pure form, spending herself for others, in imitation of her guru and God-incarnate, Jesus Christ. Here was a person who challenged the wealthy and the greedy of the world with her total rejection of and complete detachment from material possessions and indicated to them the means to obtain peace and joy through a life of moderation and self-discipline.

Stories of aunt Annakutty’s life, suffering and death, told and retold time and again in the family, were a source of encouragement for those of us who looked forward to follow Jesus closely.