Church readies to celebrate first Indian saint’s canonisation

October 4th, 2008 - 4:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Kottayam (Kerala), Oct 4 (IANS) Former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, head of the Congregation of Oriental Churches in the Vatican, will be the chief guests at St Mary’s Church in Kerala’s Bharanaganam this November after Sister Alphonsa is declared the first Indian saint by the Cathloic church.The canonisation of the Kerala nun will take place after a 55-year-long process at Vatican Oct 12.

It is at this church in Pala near Kottayam where the mortal remains of Sister Alphonsa are kept and several miracles have taken place.

Father Paul Thellekat, official spokesperson of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, told IANS that since all the top Catholic Church leaders are in Vatican to take part in the canonisation, that day there will be no function at St Mary’s Church.

“Instead, from Nov 7 to Nov 9, at St Mary’s Church there will be special prayers and it would be the Cardinal from Vatican who will be leading the special mass. Kalam will deliver a special speech on Nov 9,” he said.

Sister Alphonsa becomes the first native Indian to be canonised. An Italian priest, a nun from Switzerland and a lay woman from Ecuador will also be canonised the same day.

Thellekat added that though Gonsalo Garcia of Bombay was martyred by crucifixion on Feb 5, 1597, at Nagasaki in Japan and canonised by Pope Pius IX on June 8, 1862, he is often referred to as a Portuguese saint because his father was Portuguese.

Blessed Alphonsa’s name for canonisation was cleared by Pope Benedict XVI on June 1, 2007.

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.

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