Indian delegation for Vatican for Sister Alphonsa’s canonisation (Lead)

October 9th, 2008 - 10:27 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) Cutting across political lines, prominent Catholic leaders led by Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes left for the Vatican Thursday night as part of the Indian delegation to attend the canonisation of Sister Alphonsa Oct 12 by Pope Benedict XVI.Except for Fernandes, all other members are from Kerala. Jancy James, the vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University, is the only woman member in the team. Mons Joseph, the public works department minister in the communist-led government is also part of the 13-member delegation.

Former minister and Kerala Congress leader K.M. Mani, who is also member of the delegation, will be accompanying the priests carrying the mortal remains of Sister Alphonsa at the time of canonisation by the Pope.

“I am completely overwhelmed by the occasion and have no words to explain my feelings. Being a member of the Indian delegation is big in itself but to be appointed as a member in the team of clerics to present the mortal remains at the historical function makes me double blessed,” Mani told IANS.

“This is the third time I’m visiting the Vatican. It is a spiritual journey for me and it is fortunate.”

“The canonisation of Sister Alphonsa is unique as this is for the first time an Indian nun is being canonised. Once the canonization is over, she will be worshipped all over the world and prayers will be done in her name,” said Congress legislator K.V. Thomas, a former minister.

Pope Benedict cleared Sister Alphonsa’s name for canonization 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.

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.

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.

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