St. Alphonsa - Our Patroness
She was born on 19th August, 1910 in the parish of Kudamaloor, in the state of Kerala, India, and was baptised on the 27th August. Her parents were Joseph and Mary Muttathupadathu, her baptismal name was Anna and her pet name Annakutty.
Unfortunately, her mother died shortly after her birth, so Anna was brought up and educated by her maternal aunt and her great-uncle Rev. Fr. Joseph Muttathupadathu. Though she was confined to bed for long intervals of time, tortured by excruciating pains, Alphonsa was always simple and joyous like a child. She entered the Poor Clares convent at Bharnanganam in 1927, receiving the Postulant's veil with the name Alphonsa in 1928, and the religious habit in 1930.
Alphonsa joined the Noviciate in 1935, and was professed on 1st August, 1936. She offered herself to Jesus with all her heart, giving an admirable example of serene and complete surrender to God's will.
In spite of her painful diseases, she was cheerful to the last and the smile of innocence never parted from her lips. She considered herself a sacrificial offering at God's altar and believed that suffering refines us and makes us worthy of Him.
Alphonsa was longing to suffer even more for her own sanctification and that of the world. As Cardinal Gracias has observed: "She did not want her sufferings to be reduced in the least by human attention and sympathy, nor did she want others of know of her suffering. This is a strange expression of humility, which seeks that others should never think of you. "
She passed away on 28th July, 1946, her funeral was very simple and thinly attended, but very soon the school children, who loved Alphonsa, received favours through her intercession. Her tomb at Bharananganam in the Diocese of Palai, South India, turned into a great centre of pilgrimage and innumerable miracles occurred since then.
On 2nd December 1953, Cardinal Tisserant inaugurated the diocesan process for her beatification and Alphonsa was declared Servant of God. In 1985, Pope John Paul II formally approved a miracle attributed to her intercession and,on 9th July, she became "Venerable Sr.Alphonsa". On 8th. February 1986, during his apostolic visit to India, the Pope beatified her.
Pope Benedict XVI canonized St. Alphonsa on 12 October, 2008 and gave her to the Universal Church as the first saint from India in a ceremony in St Peter's Square, Rome attended by thousands of faithful from all over the world. Indians from across the world especially people from Kerala, gathered at the ceremony in Rome.
Among them was 10-year-old Kerala boy Jinil Joseph whose clubfoot – a birth defect – was, in the judgment of Vatican officials, miraculously healed after prayers to Alphonsa in 1999.
After the ceremony, Pope had a message in English for the Indians in the crowd of tens of thousands: "As the Christian faithful of India give thanks to God for their first native daughter to be presented for public veneration…"
Alphonsa's name can now be invoked during prayers by Christians across the world and churches can be dedicated in her honor.
St. Alphonsa Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Los Angeles is the first Church named after her in the USA.