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India’s First Woman Saint – Pope Benedict XVI Canonizes Sister Alphonsa In Vatican City

Posted on: October 12, 2008

Sister Alphonsa

Alphonsa Muttathupandathu or Sister Alphonsa

October 12 was a proud moment for the Indian Church, having a history of 2000 years, when Sister Alphonsa became the first India woman to be awarded Sainthood. On October 12, at 2:40pm, Kerala nun Sister Alphonsa was declared Saint Alphonsa when she was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City becoming the first Indian woman to be anointed.

The ceremony was attended by over 25000 people of Indian origin some of whom carried the Indian Flag to show their pride. A big delegation from India headed by Union Labor Minister Oscar Fernandes was also present to attend the prestigious ceremony.

Very few people outside Kerala would have known Sister Alphonsa before she was chosen in 2007 to be anointed as a Saint. Its after more than 100 years of her birth that she has been declared a Saint by Pope Benedict XVI and has become the first Indian woman and the second Indian Roman Catholic to be conferred this honor after Gonzalo Garcia, who was declared a Saint in 1862.

Sister Alphonsa was born in the year 1910 in Bharanganam village in Kottayam district of Kerala. Her mother passed away when she was very young and she overcame her sufferings and pain by finding solace in spirituality. Sister Alphonsa spent her entire life helping and serving the people of that region and promoting good values. She is also believed to have been associated with many miraculous incidents two of which were officially put up to the Pope. Sister Alphonsa passed away at a young age of 36 years in 1946. While conferring Sainthood on Sister Alphonsa, Pope Benedict XVI read our passages from the Bible and also excerpts from Sister Alphonsa’s biography.

The ceremony in Vatican City completed the canonization process which started more than 50 years ago. Along with Sister Alphonsa, Pope Benedict XVI conferred Sainthood on Maria Bernarda Butler of Switzerland, Father Gaetano Errico of Italy and Narcisa de Jesus Marlillo Moran of Ecuador.

Ironically for the Indian Christian community, such a proud moment comes at a time when many Indian states like Orissa and Karnataka are dealing with incidents of serious violence against Christians. This has drawn severe international critism over the past few weeks. Pope Benedict XVI also referred to this during the ceremony when he said “my prayers are with Christians (in India) in these difficult times”.

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1 Response to "India’s First Woman Saint – Pope Benedict XVI Canonizes Sister Alphonsa In Vatican City"

Thanks and God Bless Saint Alphonsa

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