Vatican, Oct 12: Sister Alphonsa from Kerala will become the first nun from the country to be canonised by the Vatican on Sunday, Oct 12. The date was announced after a formal meeting of the Pope and other cardinals in the Vatican on March 1. Her beatification that is recognition by the Church of a dead person's accession to heaven was ordered by the then Pope, Pope John Paul II, during his visit to Kerala in 1986.
Sister Alphonsa was born at Kudamaloor in Kottayam District in 1910. She joined the Clarist congregation. Annakkutty, who later became Sister Alphonsa, died in 1946 after suffering from various illnesses.
A nun who spent her lifetime serving people will be anointed a saint by Pope Benedict XVI, to make Sister Alphonsa the first nun from Indian origin to raised to sainthood. While thousands of Christians from around the world are expected to attend the elaborate ceremony, in her hometown Kottayam, people are flocking to celebrate the canonisation of what would be India's first women saint from the nearly 2,000-year-old Indian Church.
Sister Alphonsa was credited to have performed some miracles by the residents. She was beatified and made blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1986. According to residents, a disabled child was miraculously cured of his ailment and his limbs restored due to prayers at the altar of Sister Alphonsa's shrine.
Sister Alphonsa is the first person to be conferred sainthood from the Kerala Church, which traces its origins to the visit of St Thomas around 2,000 years ago to preach the gospel in India. In June 2007, Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree approving the miracles that took place through the intercession of Alphonsa paving the way for canonisation. Her tomb at Palai in Kerala is a famous Christian pilgrimage spot.
For a Catholic saint to attain sainthood, two miracle are required, one to be beatified and the other to be canonised. These miracles, preferably has to be a medical healing that cannot be explained by medical science.
The powers and miracles of a saint is closely scrutinised and investigated over a period of time by the Vatican. 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.
Currently there are 14 Indian or India connected causes for cannonisation in various stages of investigation, two of them are from Goa. Blessed Joseph Vaz and Venerable Agenlo de Souza. Bl Vaz, beatified in 1995 is a step away from sainthood and Goa awaits the miracle that will take him there.