Oscar Fernandes to lead team to Sister Alphonsa canonization

October 7th, 2008 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) An Indian delegation led by Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes will attend the canonization of Sister Alphonsa in the Vatican Oct 12. She will become the first Indian woman to be declared a saint by the Catholic Church.Alphonsa’s name for canonization was cleared by Pope Benedict XVI on June 1, 2007, after a 55-year-long process at the Vatican.

Besides Oscar, the 13-member delegation includes Kerala Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Mons Joseph, P.C. Thomas MP, former Kerala minister and legislator K.M. Mani, legislators P.C. George, K.V. Thomas and former Nagaland Governor M.M. Jacob.

The delegation will leave for the Vatican Oct 10.

“This is the first time that the Kerala Church, which has 2,000 years’ history, will have a saint who was born, lived and died in India,” Mani told IANS by phone from Pala town in Kottatyam district of Kerala.

“It is a proud moment for the country and all people who believe in god,” Mani said.

Mons Joseph said: “People, cutting across caste and religion, are celebrating the canonization of Sister Alphonsa.”

Sister Alphonsa was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986 at Kottayam, Kerala, 40 years after her death.

Pope Benedict XVI authorised her canonization. She will be the second saint from India.

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 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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