Over 100,000 take part in function for Saint Alphonsa

November 9th, 2008 - 9:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Kottayam (Kerala), Nov 9 (IANS) Over 100,000 people Sunday evening took part in a celebration at the St. Mary’s Church, Bharananganam, which has the tomb of Saint Alphonsa.It was on Oct 12 that Blessed Sister Alphonsa was canonized at a function held in the Vatican and became the first native Indian to be canonized.

The function was held Sunday as on the day she was canonized the top leadership of the church was away in Rome.

Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the chief guest at the church function, presided over by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, head of the Congregation of Oriental Churches in the Vatican.

“Close to a lakh (100,000) people took part and the function was excellent and meant to celebrate the canonization,” Fr Paul Thelekatt, spokesperson of the Syro Malabar Church told IANS.

People prayed at her tomb.

The function was graced by 90 bishops, mostly from the various Catholic denominations and also other churches.

Close to 600 priests and a 150-member musical troupe led the two-hour long function, which was laced by speeches from the guests drawn from various organisations of the Catholic Church.

The importance of Bharananganam, situated in Kottayam district, has been growing at a rapid pace ever since the canonisation, which was preceded by a 55-year long process.

The Catholic community in the state comprises the Roman Catholic, the Latin Catholic and the Malankara Syrian Church, all of which together constitute a shade over half of the 23 percent of the Christian population in the 32-million population of Kerala.

Alphonsa was born in Kudamaloor, a village near Kottayam, to Joseph and Mary 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.

On Dec 2, 1953, Eugène-Gabriel-Gervais-Laurent Cardinal Tisserant inaugurated the diocesan process for her beatification and Alphonsa was declared a ‘Servant of God’. On July 9, 1985, she received the title Venerable Sister Alphonsa.

She was beatified Feb 8, 1986, by Pope John II at the Nehru Stadium in Kottayam.

From now on, new churches will be consecrated in her honour, people can pray in her name and children can be named after her.

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