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Pope Francis Canonizes Bl Chavara and Euphrasia
Update on:24-Nov-2014


Pope Francis, on Sunday 23rd November 2014, declared two Indians - Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Euphrasia Eluvathingal - saints of the Catholic Church in a solemn ceremony held at St Peter’s Square, Vatican City.

Thousands of Indians from all over the world including priests, religious and laity gathered for the canonization of two Kerala saints. Among the faithful participating the event are scores of bishops and four Cardinals from India including two from Kerala (Gracias, Cleemis, Alencherry and Toppo). The official Indian delegation was led by Mr P J Kurien, Deputy Speaker of Rajya Sabha.

It is reported that currently there are 29 Indians at various stages of the process of sainthood.

FR. KURIAKOSE ELIAS CHAVARA

Fr Kuriakose Elias Chavara who lived in the 19th century Kerala is reckoned as a social reformer and visionary priest. Pope John Paul II during his visit to Kerala on 8 February 1986 declared Fr Chavara blessed along with sister Alphonsa, who was made a saint in 2008.

Born in 1805 at Kainakari in Alappuzha district, Fr Chavara was ordained priest in 1829 and is credited with introducing reforms in the Syrian Catholic Church, especially popularizing religious instruction and retreat for laymen. He founded the first Indian congregation for men called the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, and for women, the Carmelites of Mother Carmel (CMC).

He started the first printing press in his monastery at Mannanam in Kottayam, which went on to bring out the first Malayalam daily newspaper, Nasrani Deepika, which today is known as Rashtra Deepika.

His pioneering contribution to society was to establish a school along with church, a campaign started in 1864 when he decreed that every palli (church) must have a pallikoodam (school) which continues to be a permanent feature even today. Fr. Chavara also started boarding schools for girls and special schools for the weaker sections.

SR. EUPHRASIA

Sr Euphrasia who lived in the 19th and 20th century Kearala led a life dedicated to prayer and sufferings. A member of the Congregation of the Mother Carmel established by Chavara in 1866 she was born in 1877 at Katoor in Thrissur district in a rich family, and was known as Rose before becoming a nun. She joined the CMC and became a nun in 1898, and took the name Euphrasia and led her life mostly in the convent chapel at Ollur in Thrissur. She was known as “the praying mother” and revered as a living saint among the nuns.

She died in 1952 at age 75, and was buried at Ollur. Years later, the tomb of the nun, who prayed for a silent and secluded life, turned to a pilgrim centre. Several miracles were reported from the faithful through heavenly intercession of Euphrasia.

With this canonization event, India has four saints of the Indian origin, the first being St. Gonsalo Garcia (1556-1597) a Roman Catholic Franciscan friar from India, who died as a martyr in Japan and the first Indian to attain sainthood. Born in the western coastal town of Vasai to Portuguese Father and a native Indian mother, he was canonized in 1862 by Pope Pius IX.

The second was the more recent and the first woman saint and first saint of the Church in Kerala, St. Alphonsa Muttathupadathu, who lived as an unknown simple Clarist nun within the four walls of the Franciscan Clarist convent. She was canonized on 12 October 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Courtesy: Mattersindia

 

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