Sister Alphonsa of Kerala becomes India's first woman saint

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Tiruvananthapuram, Oct 12 : Sister Alphonsa of Kerala becomes the first woman from India and second from Indian Roman Catholic church to get canonized today at St. Peter's Square in Vatican, Rome.

Till date, only one half-Indian, St Goncalo Garcia, martyred in Japan, has been raised to the altar.

In India, Christians are approximately two per cent of the country's billion people, but Catholic saints do fall short.

Lack of potential candidates is not the reason for the shortage of saints in the country, but the procedure of declaring sainthood is difficult.

To reach sainthood a person requires two miracles, one to be beatified and the other to be canonized.

Currently there are 14 Indian or India connected causes for canonisation in various stages of investigation, two of them are from Goa - Blessed Joseph Vaz and Venerable Agenlo de Souza. Vaz, beatified in 1995 is a step away from sainthood and Goa awaits the miracle that will take him there.

Father Eremita Rebello, vice postulator for the cause for the canonisation of Vaz, said, We need a miracle that preferably has to be a medical healing that cannot be explained by medical science. This has to be certified by the doctor involved, then scrutinised by a group of doctors here and counter checked in Rome."

Somewhat similar is the case of Agnelo, who to reach sainthood requires two miracles, one to be beatified and the other to be canonized.

Though there are many claims to healings, through the intercession of the two Goan "saints", the hurdle comes in getting the doctors involved in certifying that the cures are beyond scientific explanation.

The Vatican is strict when it comes to accepting miracles.

Father Francisco Caldeira, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, said, "The Vatican is very strict with recognising miracles, not just with those from here, but even in Lourdes. There are many miracles ascribed to Our Lady of Lourdes, but few have been accepted by the Vatican."

ANI

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