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Mother Gnanamma declared Servant of God

A rare honour for a lay woman to be Canonised. Sr. Fathima Mary B. essa, superior-general of the Sisters of St. Anne Phirangipuram, said: "In the long history of the Catholic Church, it is a very rare occurrence that religious congregations were started by a lay person. That is Gnanamma’s uniqueness."

June 05, 2014 09:50 pm | Updated October 05, 2016 09:58 am IST - GUNTUR:

Mother Tadipathri Gnanamma - Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

Mother Tadipathri Gnanamma - Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

Mother Thatipatri Gnanamma, founder of the congregations of St. Anne, Madras, and St. Anne, Phirangipuram, has been declared Servant of God, which will lead to her Beatification and Canonisation. In other words, the process of initiation of sainthood on Mother Gnanamma has begun.

Guntur district now has the rare distinction of canonising two women in a span of less than a year. Sister Mary Glowrey JMJ, founder of St. Joseph General Hospital, Guntur, and Catholic Hospital Association of India, was declared Servant of God in March 2013.

At the special Eucharistic celebrations held at Phirangipuram on Wednesday evening, the Bishop of Guntur diocese, Gali Bali, declared that Mother Gnanamma, who died in 1874, would be called the Servant of God.

Sr. Fathima Mary B. essa, superior-general of the Sisters of St. Anne Phirangipuram, said: “In the long history of the Catholic Church, it is a very rare occurrence that religious congregations were started by a lay person. That is Gnanamma’s uniqueness.”

Gnanamma was an unlettered woman who became a widow at the age of 37. She took great pains to educate her five sons and later dedicated herself to the service of mankind.

At a time when educating women was a tall order, Gnanamma established a school for girls at Kilacheri in 1863 and founded the St. Ann’s Congregation at Phirangipuram in 1874. She travelled on foot to Kadapa, Kurnool and Chennai, pleading for help to start a school. She sold her property and moved from place to place begging and collecting money for the work of God.

On the personal front, Gnananna had to bear tragedy, as one of her sons died young. But, that would not deter Gnanamma, as she single-mindedly pursued her mission of establishing a school and later a congregation.

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