New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Sunday, October 12, 2008

St. Alfonsa - India's first Woman saint.

The wonders and marvels of God never cease, while Catholics and Christians in India suffer under terrible persecutions, God our loving father has raised up a saint from India to lead us through this time.

The baptismal name of St. Alfonsa is Anna Muttathupadam; she was born on August 19, 1919, in Kudamaloor, in Kerala. Her mother died when she was a baby. At the age of 17 she entered the Congregation of the Immaculate Conception.

Her delicate health was held to be an obstacle in religious life and her superiors wanted her to return to her home; but Sister Alfonsa persevered in her vocation and made her perpetual vows in 1936. She died 10 years later at age 35.

In 1936, she took perpetual vows at the monastery of the Claretians of Malabar in Bharananganam.

Her work was teaching, but she soon had to leave it for health reasons. She bravely endured her illness until her death, on July 28, 1946. The bishop of Palai began the diocesan process of beatification in 1955, and on November 9, 1984, she was declared venerable. On February 8, 1986, Pope John Paul II beatified her in Kottayam, in India, together with another Indian blessed, Kuriakose Elias Chavara.

“This is a great moment for the Indian Church," says Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, head of the Indian bishops' conference, "God has raised up to the highest honour a person who the world considered useless and sickly. Today Blessed Alfonsa will be a living catechesis that the Catholic Church produces children who are holy bearing fruit, and in a twist of irony curing the sick, the humble one who understands the intimacy of union with Christ through suffering.”

The cardinal compares the life of the blessed with the experience of St. Teresa of Lisieux, in which the brevity of life marked by "physical suffering" is exalted by the "salvific dimension" that is present in faith in Christ, at a particular moment of the Indian Church, marked by the martyrdom and violence against Christians in many areas of the country.

"We live in a time," continues the president of the Indian bishops, "where the world wants to deny suffering and the cross, even the tremendous scientific and technological progress unfortunately are used to get rid to the suffering through any means there are other sinister developments. Some cast doubt on the right to life of the newborn disabled baby, and of others who are incurably sick and old, and of those whose lives - they judge - are no longer useful to society or meaningful to themselves. Due to this we see termination of pregnancy when the foetus is abnormal, and even euthanasia are all the result of the inability to accept this suffering."

The life of Blessed Alfonsa is taking on an even greater value in India, a society where there is still a rigid separation among the castes, and the underprivileged are kept at the margins of society. "The canonization of Blessed Alfonsa," Cardinal Vithayathil concludes, "should force us to confront the grim reality upon which our success and world dominance depend - all money, power and other attractions end with death, but a live lived in holiness, in faith and lived communion with Christ, lives and continues to bear fruit even after the passing away of our mortal life."


Jackie Parkes said...

Many thanks for this post!

Smiley said...

Hi Jackie

Your welcome. It is great to have a woman saint of Indian origin. I am amazed by the timing of this. Ind the midst of the violence God sends us such a great sign as to why we must persevere.

Ps: You have also been entered into the draw for the medal of Our Lady of Lourdes.