St. Alphonsa Muttathupadathu (The Passion Flower) is the first Indian woman to be elevated to sainthood. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986 and decided as a saint by the pope Benedict XVI onMarch 1, 2008. The official declaration will be done today October 12, 2008. On February 8, 1986, almost 40 years after her death, Pope John Paul II beatified her at Kottayam. On June 1, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI authorised her canonization. She will be the first female saint from India and the second saint from India.
Pictures of St Alphonsa
Born as Annakkutty (little Anna) in Kudamaloor, a rural village in Kottayam district,Kerala, India, to Joseph and Mary Muttathupadathu. She was baptized on August 27, 1910. Anna’s mother died when she was very young, so her maternal aunt raised her. Anna was educated by her great-uncle Father Joseph Muttathupadathu. When Anna was 3 years old, she contracted eczema and suffered from it for over a year.
She died on July 28, 1946, aged 35. She is buried at Bharananganam, South India in the Diocese of Pala.
Pope Benedict XVI will declare Sister Alphonsa a saint of the Roman Catholic Church at the sprawling St Peter’s Square today.
“This is the first time that India has a saint who was born, lived and died in this country,” said Mani. “It is an emotional and proud moment.” About 10,000 Indians will attend the canonization of Sister Alphonsa.
Pictures of St Alphonsa Museum
The Alphonsa Museum, which houses hundreds of exhibits associated with the life of blessed Alphonsa, is situated in the Chapel compound. The two storey structure in front of the chapel was originally the Papal podium at Kottayam during the beatification ceremony on 8th Feb.1986. A flight of steps leads to the stadium below and on either side of these steps one can see a beautifully laid out terraced garden, one of the very best of its kind in Kerala. See the video clip below for more details showing her physical remains.
St. Alphonsa Video :-
Churches named after St. Alphonsa even before Canonization:-
Three churches in the United States were named after St. Alphonsa even before her canonization by Pope Benedict XVI on October 12 in Vatican.
1) Parishioners at the Saint Alphonsa Church in San Fernando in Los Angles, claims that it is the first church in the whole world to be named after her. The church was started as a mission of the St Thomas Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago in 2001. Sr Alphonsa was still in the Blessed or beatified status and there was no indication when she would become a saint. Beatification is the last step before canonization.
“But we knew that now or later, she would be canonized. So we decided to name the mission after her,” Vicar Fr. Paul Kottackal said. The church allows to use the name of the beatified for new missions or churches. The mission bought a building used by the Jehova’s Witness members this year and a formal parish was inaugurated this July by Major Archbishop, Cardinal Varkey Vithyathil, head of the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. Syro-Malabar Church is an independent church within the Catholic Church.
He and Bishop Jacob Angadiath of the Chicago diocese allowed them to use the name as Saint Alphonsa. The cardinal assured them that the canonization was an officially decided matter and only a formal ceremony by the pope was left. So the church was registered as Saint Alphonsa Church. The church conducted a two-day feast and special prayers on October 11 and 12 to coincide with the canonization ceremonies held in Vatican.
2) The Blessed Alphonsa Church in Atlanta, Georgia, will soon change its name to Saint Alphonsa Church. To celebrate the canonization, the church has scheduled a 21-day programme starting October 12, Abraham Augusty, chairman of the parish council, said.
The main celebrations are on November 1 and 2, when Bishop Agadiath will also come to participate. A committee under Vicar Fr Kurian Karickal and Augusty is also working to make the celebrations a success. They bought six-acre land to built the church. It was inaugurated in 2006, ahead of the Los Angeles church. But Alphonsa’s name was taken for the mission only in 2004. A mission is a congregation which will become a parish when it gets its own church.
3) The third church is in Dallas, Texas, still only a mission, as it has no church of its own. It is the second church for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Dallas. Fr. Saji Chakkittamuri, who just arrived from Kerala, has taken over as the vicar of the church.
Several people from the US have already gone to Vatican to witness the ceremony. Florida-based Joy Kuttiani, along with his family, is one among them. He is a native of Bharanganam in Kottayam district, where Alphonsa lived and the mortal remains were buried. It is the major pilgrimage centre of the Catholic community. Kuttiani is a devotee of Alphonsa. He was instrumental in releasing a postal stamp in the name of Alphonsa in the 90s. “It was K Karunakaran, former kerala chief minister, who made it possible. He forced the central ministers to bring out the stamp,’ he said. More than 900,000 stamps with her pictures were sold, which was a rare thing in the postal history in India, he said.
Prayer of Saint Alphonsa:-
O Lord Jesus,
Hide me in the wound of your sacred heart.
Free me from my desire to be loved and esteemed.
Guard me from my evil attempts to win fame and honor.
Make me humble till I become a small spark in the flame of love in your Sacred Heart.
Grant me the grace to forget myself and all worldly things.
Jesus, sweet beyond words, convert all worldly consolations into bitterness for me.
O my Jesus, Sun of Justice, enlighten my intellect and mind with your sacred rays. Purify my heart, consume me with burning love for you, and make me one with you.
Novena of the Saint Alphonsa:
Prayer to Saint Alphonsa:-
Oh, Saint Alphonsa, you have been graciously chosen from our midst to be united with Jesus Christ, our savior, in the misery of his passion, death and resurrection. You have grown to the heights of holiness and have been crowned with heavenly glory.
Help us in our trials and tribulations. Oh! Daughter of sufferings, obtain for us the grace to lead a holy life, following your example, in total submission to the will of God. Be with us, transforming all our sorrows into a holy sacrifice in union with Christ Crucified, in reparation to our sins, for the sanctification and salvation of the whole world. Amen.