BHARANANGANAM (Kottayam district): Even as Sr. Alphonsa was raised to the realm of saints by the Vatican on Sunday, the Catholic Church back home celebrated the canonisation of the first Indian saint from an Indian Rite. Across the State, church bells tolled as Pope Benedict XVI named her St.Alphonsa of Immaculate Conception.
The centre of Sunday’s celebrations was the Alphonsa Chapel in the campus of the St Mary’s Forane Church at Bharananganam. The cemetery where the Franciscan Clarist nun was buried 62 years ago in a simple ceremony has now been turned into the chapel which houses her mortal remains. The flow of devotees began in the early hours and as the day wore on thousands thronged the campus. Special Masses were held from 5:30 in the morning till 11 a.m. This was followed a rally by the Little Flower Mission League carrying the statue of Sr. Alphonsa.
As the rally arrived at the chapel, the Mass according to Syro- Malankara rite commenced. The conclusion of the Mass coincided with the commencement of the canonisation ceremony in the Vatican. The direct telecast of the ceremony was witnessed by the thousands who had thronged the campus on big screens erected at vantage points.
The canonisation was greeted with bursting of crackers and toll of church bells. In the evening, the ceremony crowning the new saint was held at the Franciscan Clarist convent nearby, where she spent some years as a nun. Later, a rasa was held in memory of St Alphonsa of Immaculate Conception and a Mass invoking her intercession was held at the chapel, the first after her canonisation.
A few kilometres away at the Alphonsa Centre at Kudamaloor, birth place of the saint, the celebrations were no different. The regular flow of devotees started early in the morning and special masses were held right from the morning. Here too, special arrangements had been made for the devotees to witness the direct telecast of the canonisation ceremony. St Mary’s Forane church at Kudmaloor, the parent parish of the saint, too held special Mass.
Hundreds of devotees participated in the celebrations at the Forane Church Muttuchira.
The celebrations at Bharananganam will continue till November 9.
With canonisation, Feasts can be held and Mass celebrated in the name of St Alphonsa of Immaculate Conception. Her image can be placed at the altar and her name invoked for prayers by Catholic Church devotees around world.
Born Anna Joseph of Muttathupadom on August 19, 1910 at Kudamaloor near Kottayam, she became a Franciscan Clarist nun adopting the name Sr. Alphonsa. She led a very ordinary life and died at her convent in Bharananganam on July 28, 1946.Related stories:Festive atmosphere at St Alphonsa's home townCatholics in Delhi celebrate over Sr. Alphonsa's sainthoodPope creates four new saintsSister Alphonsa gets rare honours after sainthoodThousands throng sister Alphonsa's tombCardinal Vithayathil hospitalised at Vatican