Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sainthood for Kerala's own Sister Alphonsa

WE MALAYALEES call her Alphonsamma, or Mother Alphonsa,and the world will know her as Saint Alphonsa of Kottayam.

As Pope Benedict XVI will declare her the first saint from an Indian congregation, at the historic St Peter's Basilica in Rome on Sunday, October 12, 2008, history will be rewritten and an ancient congregation which proudly traced its roots to Saint Thomas, the Apostle, will be honoured with such an exalted position for one of its own for the first time in two thousand years of Roman Catholic Church history.

Sister Alphonsa enters this august realm in ecclesiastical hierarchy somewhat fast by the Roman Catholic Church's standards. It is not even a hundred years since her birth, and just over 80 years since she took to the life of a Christian nun. She was born on August 19, 1910 at a small village calledKutamaloor in Kottayam, an abode of a famous deity in the Hindu pantheon, and she was christened Anna Muttathupadathu before she took to the church as a nun in her 17th year. She died aged 36, in 1946 and she was not known even outside her small town at the time of her death. She worked as a teacher in some convents and was living among her people in the most ordinary and mundane circumstances.

Most of her life was spent in the churches and convents in Kottayam, a town where one finds Churches of every denomination at every street corner and every village. Ever since her death people were holding her in high reverence and one can find her pictures in most shops and households in the region, a practice that became popular much before she attained high eminence in church hierarchy.

While Sister Alphonsa is raised to the highest rank in church hierarchy-- she is the first Indian to reach there while there are a few of foreign origins who have achieved sainthood from Indian Church-- a few others likeChavara Kuriakose and Mother Teresa are now at the penultimate stage, being recognized as the Blessed.

(Illustration:Sudheernath, New Delhi.)

1 comment:

Bachoo said...

Our medias celebrate this as some what Indians/Keralites got a big treasure. What's in it for the society?