Indian delegation for Vatican for Sister Alphonsa’s canonisation


New Delhi : Cutting across political lines, prominent Catholic leaders led by Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes leave for the Vatican late Thursday as part of the Indian delegation to attend the canonisation of Sister Alphonsa Oct 12.

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Except for Fernandes, all other members are from Kerala. Dr. Jancy James, the vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University, is the only woman member in the team. Mons Joseph, the public works department minister in the communist-led government is also part of the 13-member delegation.

Former minister and Kerala Congress leader K.M. Mani, who is also member of the delegation, will enjoy a special status as he will be the person carrying the mortal remains of Sister Alphonsa along with three other top priests at the time of canonization by Pope Benedict XVI.

“I am completely overwhelmed by the occasion and have no words to explain my feelings. Being a member of the Indian delegation is big itself but to be appointed as the one to present the mortal remains at the historical function makes me double blessed,” Mani told IANS.

“This is the third time I’m visiting Vatican. It is a spiritual journey for me and it is fortunate.”

“The canonisation of Sister Alphonsa is unique as this is for the first time an Indian nun is being canonized. Once the canonization is over, she will be worshipped all over the world and prayers will be done in her name,” said Congress legislator K.V. Thomas, a former minister.

Pope Benedict cleared Sister Alphonsa’s name for canonization on June 1, 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.

She will be the second saint from India to be canonized.

In the 19th century, Saint Gonsalo Garcia, born in Vasai near Mumbai to an Indian mother and Portuguese father in 1556, was declared a saint.

Alphonsa was born in Kudamaloor, a village near Kottayam, to Joseph and Mary on Aug 19, 1910 and after facing several health problems, she died on July 28, 1946 in Bharnanganam.