Sister Alphonsa the First woman to be canonized from India


The magnetic sanctity and holiness of the Clarist nun Sister Alphonsa who lived in the 20th century, have been recognized and honoured by the Holy See. She was a chaste nun never enchanted by the richness and prosperity of the world .She was moved by genuine love of God. She burnt with ardent desire to become one with Jesus. God the Almighty bestowed on her all the gifts of nature and amiable feminine virtues, and these helped her to reach the heights of holiness. She was not a distinguished person. She has not done any meritorious act in the sight of the world. She spent her whole life on a sick bed in the obscurity of Bharananganam convent. She never deplored over her misfortunes. Her vision was profoundly divine. She could see everything in a wide perspective.

The Divine virtues blossomed in her heart and made her a saintly soul. Sr. Alphonsa succeeded in keeping a heart full of affection to embrace the whole humanity. Sr. Alphonsa is the most Christ like woman that the world has ever seen. Her imitation of Christ was perfect. Sr. Alphonsa longed to suffer as Jesus has suffered. Jesus is the prophet of love; Jesus is a man who incarnated in this world in the form of love. As a true follower of Jesus Sr. Alphonsa also lived like a torch barer of love. She was even a light house of love. She has been praying day and night without ceasing .This simple pure hearted nun made constant contact and touch with God. In the depth of her being she made an altar for God and worshiped Him unceasingly. It is the mystery of her exaltation.

Her life on this earth was very short, she died at the age of 36 on 28th July 1946 .Only a few had known about that remarkable life. On the very next day of her funeral school children and some others who knew about her sanctity started to implore her intercession. God the Almighty had been pleased to exalt and honour the one who became a holocaust for His sake. People from far and near arrived at her tomb to receive favours though her meditation. Usually cemetery inspires fear in the minds of the people , but here we notice the contrary .This is indeed a place of consolation and the sweet fragrance of her holiness spread out provide a sort of relief for the suffering. Now there is an incessant flow of pilgrims to her tomb and they are very sure about her power of intercession. A lot of miraculous healings are been received at her tomb. One such miracle is the one which has been officially approved by the congregation for canonization of saints.

Jinil the son of Shaji and Lissy Ozhuthotty Mannarapara in Kottayam District miraculously cured of clubfoot. Lissy gave birth to Jinil at Vimala hospital Ettumannoor. The parents were much frustrated due to this severe handicap of their child. The Doctors certified the defect was Talipes Equinio varus and started treatment. Both the legs of the baby were plastered. The child became highly restless and went on crying .The parent met the doctor and sought his direction. He said nothing more could be done about this case. They came to know about Sr. Alphonsa and her power of intercession. They took the child to the tomb of Sr. Alphonsa, laid him on her tomb and prayed. The same day itself at the time of evening prayer of that family the child Jinil stood up and walked with out much effort. They could not control themselves, their Joy was boundless.

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.