was born as Annakkutty (little Anna) in
Kudamaloor, a village in Kottayam district,
Kerala, India, to Joseph and Mary
Muttathupadathu. She was baptized on 27
August 1910 at Saint Mary's Church in
Kudamaloor under the patronage of Saint
Anna.Anna's mother died when she was young,
so her maternal aunt raised her. Anna was
educated by her great-uncle, Father Joseph
Muttathupadathu. When Anna was three years
old, she contracted eczema and suffered for
over a year.
1916 Anna started her schooling in Arpookara.
She received First Communion on 27 November
1917. In 1918 she was transferred to the
school in Muttuchira. In 1923 Anna was badly
burned on her feet when she fell into a pit
of burning chaff. This accident left her
it became possible, Anna joined the
Franciscan Clarist Congregation. She arrived
at the Poor Clares convent at Bharananganam
on Pentecost 1927. She received the
postulant's veil on 2 August 1928 and took
the name Alphonsa. In May 1929 she entered
the Malayalam High School at Vazhappally.
Her foster mother died in 1930.
19 May 1930 she received her religious habit
at Bharananganam. Three days later she
resumed her studies at Changanacherry, while
working as a temporary teacher at the school
at Vakakkad. On 11 August 1931 she joined
the novitiate. Anna took her permanent vows
on 12 August 1936. Two days later she
returned to Bharananganam from
December 1936 she was reportedly cured from
her ailments through the intervention of
Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, but on 14
June 1939 she was struck by a severe attack
of pneumonia, which left her weakened. On 18
October 1940, a thief entered her room in
the middle of the night. This traumatic
event caused her to suffer amnesia and
weakened her again.
health continued to deteriorate over a
period of months. She received extreme
unction on 29 September, 1941. The next day
it is believed that she regained her memory,
though not complete health. Her health
improved over the next few years, until in
July 1945 she developed a stomach problem
that caused vomiting
died on 28 July 1946, aged 35. She is buried
at Bharananganam, South India, in the
Diocese of Palai.Her death(28th July 1946)
was unnoticed by the public. The funeral was
simple and thinly attended. But soon the
school children , who loved her received
favors through her intercession. Her tomb at
Bharananganam turned into a great centre of
pilgrimage attracting people from far and
tomb in Bharananganam has become a
pilgrimage site as miracles have been
reported by some faithful. The miracle
attributed to her intercession and approved
by the Vatican for the canonization was the
healing of the club foot of an infant in
The miracle may go beyond the possibilities of nature either in the substance of the fact or in the subject, or only in the way it occurs. So three degrees of miracle are to be distinguished. The first degree is represented by resurrection from the dead (quoad substantiam). The second concerns the subject (quoad subiectum): the sickness of a person is judged incurable, in its course it can even have destroyed bones or vital organs; in this case not only is complete recovery noticed, but even wholesale reconstitution of the organs (restitutio in integrum). There is then a third degree (quoad modum): recovery from an illness, that treatment could only have achieved after a long period, happens instantaneously.
‘Miracle boy’: Ginil had clubfoot, but began walking after a ’99 visit to Alphonsa’s tomb
It was the "miraculous" cure of Ginil Joseph, a young boy suffering from clubfoot—a congenital condition in which the foot is turned inward—that's being cited for granting her sainthood. Dr Aleyamma Korah of the Vimala Hospital, Kottayam, was among those interviewed by the Church tribunal in the prelude to the canonisation. She testified that a clubfoot doesn't get corrected naturally. It can be rectified only through surgery. "This child was brought to us completely cured when he was two years old. The parents say they put the child on the tomb of Sister Alphonsamma at Bharananganam and it all happened after that," she says.
Ginil's father, Shaji Jospeh, a sales tax official, recalls it was on May 11, 1999, a Saturday, when the miracle happened. "We returned from the tomb and while we were at the evening prayers, reciting the rosary, Ginil gently stood up, firmly on his feet. It was so unlike him. Earlier, his limbs used to droop almost lifeless. If this is not a miracle, what do you call it?" he says. Shaji was once a Sunday Catholic—a reference to those who attend church on obligatory days. But today, he is a firm believer in the "redeeming faith of Christianity."
Already the numbers of physically challenged people making a beeline to the tomb of the nun are growing. Then there are schoolchildren, lighting candles on her tomb for faring well in exams. Some of those who have received her blessings later joined the order. "We are very happy that Blessed Alphonsa is going to be canonised," says Sister Graces at Alphonsa Convent, Bharananganam.
Stages of Canonization in the Roman Catholic Church
Servant of God ? Venerable ? Blessed ? Saint
Servant of God is a title given to certain people in several different religions, but in general usage the phrase "servant of God" is used as a description of a person believed to be pious in his or her faith tradition.
Servant of God is the title given to a deceased person of the Roman Catholic Church whose life and works are being investigated in consideration for official recognition by the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church as a saint in heaven.
Receiving the title Servant of God is the first of the four steps in the canonization process. The next step is being declared Venerable, upon a decree of heroicity or martyrdom by the honoree. This is followed by beatification, with the title of Blessed, after the confirmation of miracles attributed to the honoree. The final step is canonization, where the honoree would receive the title of Saint.
" Alphonsa's life was a constant
offering to God, a victim for the love of
the Lord. For her, love was suffering and
suffering was love. To the sisters who saw
her intense suffering and asked her how she
was faring, Alphonsa would answer, "I
am loving." This way of life has earned
her the name, the Little Flower of Kerala.
In reality there is much resemblance between
the life of St. Alphonsa and St. Therese of
the Child Jesus. After receiving the viaticum and the last
rites of the church, she expressed her
desire to be left alone."Let me rest comfortably. Don't wake me
up," she requested. She quickly and joyfully brought her earthly
life to a close July 28, 1946. Sister
Alphonsa died, and a saint was born.
Pope Benedict XVI congratulated the people
of India as he presented them with their
first saint and advised them to follow the
example of Sister Alphonsa and offer up the
suffering and persecution the Indian
Christians are undergoing today to the Lord
and pray for peace and reconciliation. May
the example of St. Alphonsa inspire us to
embrace our suffering and make it part of
In the Roman Catholic Church's, The Venerable is the style used for a person who has been posthumously declared "heroic in virtue" during the investigation and process leading to possible canonization as a saint. Before a person is considered to be venerable he or she must be declared as such by a proclamation, approved by the pope, of having lived a life that was "heroic in virtue" -- the virtues being the Theological Virtues of faith, hope and charity and the Cardinal Virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.
On 2 December 1953, Eugène-Gabriel-Gervais-Laurent
Cardinal Tisserant inaugurated the diocesan
process for her beatification. Pope John
Paul II formally approved a miracle
attributed to her intercession and Alphonsa
was declared Servant of God on 9 July 1985.
She was then known as Venerable Sister
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic church of a dead person's accession to Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name (intercession of saints). Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process. A person who is beatified is given the title "Blessed."
Alphonsa was beatified along with
Kuriakose Elias Chavara at Kottayam.
During the Apostolic Pilgrimage to India of
Pope John Paul II , the pope said as part of
his speech at Nehru Stadium, Kottayam on 8
"From early in her life, Sister
Alphonsa experienced great suffering. With
the passing of the years, the heavenly
Father gave her an ever fuller share in the
Passion of his beloved Son. We recall how
she experienced not only physical pain of
great intensity, but also the spiritual
suffering of being misunderstood and
misjudged by others. But she constantly
accepted all her sufferings with serenity
and trust in God, being firmly convinced
that they would purify her motives, help her
to overcome all selfishness, and unite her
more closely with her beloved divine Spouse.
She wrote to her spiritual director:
"Dear Father, as my good Lord Jesus
loves me so very much, I sincerely desire to
remain on this sick bed and suffer not only
this, but anything else besides, even to the
end of the world. I feel now that God has
intended my life to be an oblation, a
sacrifice of suffering" (20 November
1944). She came to love suffering because
she loved the suffering Christ. She learned
to love the Cross through her love of the
Benedict cleared Sister Alphonsa's name for
canonisation on 1 June 2007, a process that
was started 55 years ago. She was beatified
by Pope John Paul II in 1986 in Kottayam, 40
years after her death, in recognition of the
numerous miracles associated with her.
is a human being to whom has been attributed (and who has generally demonstrated) a high level of holiness and sanctity in an exemplary life of virtuous behavior. A saint is therefore not simply a believer but one who has been transformed by virtue and presents an example (often providing guidance) to other human beings striving to conform their lives to God. Such a person is often (but not always) recognized after their death by other human beings as someone who lived a divine life and who is in the Divine presence even in death.
The miracle attributed to her intercession
and approved by the Vatican for the
canonization was the healing of the club
foot of an infant in 1999.She was
elevated to sainthood on 12 October 2008 by
Pope Benedict XVI.The final
ceremony for the canonisation began on 12th
October 2008 with the holy relics of
Alphonsa being presented to the Pope by
Sister Celia, Mother General of the
Franciscan Clarist Congregation, the
congregation to which Sister Alphonsa
belonged. Celia was accompanied by Vice
Postulator Father Francis Vadakkel and
former Kerala minister K. M. Mani, all
holding lit candles. Speaking in English,
the Pope declared Sister Alphonsa a saint,
after reading excerpts from the Holy Bible.
The Pope himself read out the biography of
Alphonsa after the ceremony.
In the homily, Pope Benedict recalled Saint
Alphonsa's life as one of "extreme
physical and spiritual suffering."
"This exceptional woman ... was
convinced that her cross was the very means
of reaching the heavenly banquet prepared
for her by the Father", the pope
stated. "By accepting the invitation to
the wedding feast, and by adorning herself
with the garment of God's grace through
prayer and penance, she conformed her life
to Christ's and now delights in the 'rich
fare and choice wines' of the heavenly
"(Her) heroic virtues of patience,
fortitude and perseverance in the midst of
deep suffering remind us that God always
provides the strength we need to overcome
every trial", the pope stated before
the ceremony ended.
Pope Benedict also invited people "to
pray for reconciliation and peace for some
situations that that are causing alarm and
great suffering," specifically citing
the civil war situation in North Kivu,
Democratic Republic of the Congo, and
"the violence against Christians in
Iraq and India."
The ceremony was attended by around 25,000
people of Indian origin - many waving Indian
flags - as well as a large delegation from
India. A 15-member official Indian
delegation, led by Labour Minister Oscar
Fernandes, attended the ceremony.
Even as Sr. Alphonsa was raised to the realm
of saints by the Vatican on Sunday, the
Catholic Church in Kerala 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 the Immaculate Conception.