Indians receive news of first saint from their country with joy

Indians receive news of first saint from their country with joy


India will have its first saint on October 12 when Pope Benedict XVI canonizes Blessed Alfonsa of the Immaculate Conception, who is believed to have interceded in the miraculous cure of a child.

“One of the child’s legs was left motionless after a bomb exploded nearby and Alfonsa cured him.  The exam by doctors confirmed it,” said Father Antony of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.  He said the local church is elated, noting that she would be the first saint of India.

Her life
Ana Muttathupadam was born on August 19, 1910 in Kundamaloor, India.  Her mother died when she was only three months old, and she was raised by a Catholic family of the Syro-Malabar rite.

At the age of 18 she joined the Poor Clares and was given the name Alfonsa of the Immaculate.  Her religious life was marked by grave illnesses that kept her from carrying out her apostolic work.  She offered all of her suffering for the conversion of sinners.

During the last year of her life, she fell ill with cancer and suffered great pain. She died on July 28, 1946 at the age of 36.  She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986 and will be canonized on October 12, 2008.  Sister Alfonsa’s motto was “Be consumed as a fire to illuminate others.”  Her profound spiritual life even moved the hearts of non- believers.

Sister Alfonsa did not do extraordinary things, but her message is easily understood in India, a country filled with suffering.  Gandhi proclaimed the value of suffering but Sister Alfonsa imbued it with the supernatural light of the Gospel. 

As the first saint of India, she is beloved by Catholics, Hindus and Muslims, who often visit her tomb to pray for her intercession.