Orissa Christians hold special prayers for Sister Alphonsa

October 12th, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by IANS  

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.

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