Monday, October 13, 2008

Canonization of Sister Alphonsa

Sister Alphonsa, a Catholic nun from Kerala, was on Sunday elevated as Saint by Pope Benedict XVI at a solemn function at the Vatican, making her the first Indian woman to be canonised.

Sister Alphonsa is the second person from India to be canonized by the Catholic church, the first being Gonzalo Garcia, a Franciscan monk born to an Indian mother and Portuguese father. While she was alive, people from the sleepy farming village and hamlets around used to call on her and she would pray for them. Some of the miracles attributed to her were said to have happened then.

While the Roman Catholic church has over 10,000 canonized saints, in India this is the first time that someone from its flock has been elevated to full sainthood, church sources say.

The church is spread over Syro Malabar, Malankara and Latin Catholic rites and accounts for about 70 per cent of the Christian population in India.

Giant screens had been put up at Kudamaloor and Bharananganam, the ancestral house and tomb respectively of Sister Alphonsa, to enable the thousands of worshippers who had gathered to see the live telecast.

Union minister Oscar Fernandes led the Indian delegation at the ceremony. Kerala was represented by state PWD minister, Mons Joseph, former minister K M Mani and MP P C Thomas, among others.

Mother General of Franciscan Clarist Congregation, mother Celia, presented the relics of Saint Alphonsa to the Pope.

Former Kerala minister K M Mani and Father Francis Vadakkal, Vice Postulator of the cause of Sister Alphonsa, who led the process of canonisation in India, followed the relics with lighted candles.

Thousands of Indian Christians had gathered at the Vatican to view the ceremony.

"This is a proud moment for the Catholic church", Church spokesperson Father Paul Thelekat said.

The elevation of Sister Alphonsa into sainthood is of special significance to Indian Christians as Alphonsa is a totally 'home grown'person-- born and brought up in the 2000 year-old Syrian Christian traditions of Kerala, considered as the cradle of Indian Christianity with St Thomas apostle preaching the faith by landing at erstwhile Crangannore (Kodungallur), in AD 52.

The process of Alphonsa's canonisation began in 1953 with the church setting up a Diocesan tribunal. After examining the records of her life and works and testifying the witnesses, she was raised to the status of Blessed through the beautification process by late Pope John Paul II when he visited India in 1985.

Pope Benedict made an official announcement of her elevation to sainthood early this year after giving the final stamp of approval to a miracle attributed to her.

No doubt this is a great event for India but why is the Government so forthcoming in supporting such religious issues ?? Have they done the same for Hindu rituals ??

Sametime, Union Commerce Minister, P.Chidambaram had stated that a postal stamp would be unveiled on 19th August, 2009 (100th birth anniversary of Alphonsa). Is such a stamp unveiled for Hindu religious leaders ?? NEVER !!

It would be good if the Governments dont try to politicize religious issues for cheap politics.

It is also highly deplorable that such a person like Pope had to stoop to such a level and comment on things happening in India. He has no right to interfere in our affairs. As a religious leader, he better do his duties well than commenting on other things. Let him put his house in order where Cardinals are caught having sex with kids !!

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