India's Father Chavara Achen, Sister Euphrasia canonised saints by Pope Francis
From now on Indian Catholics will have three native saints following the elevation of Kuriakose Elias Chavara, popularly known as Chavara Achen, and Sister Euphrasia, popularly known as Evuprasiamma, in a canonisation ceremony presided over by Pope Francis in the Vatican Sunday.
In 2008, Sister Alphonsa became the first native Indian to be canonized and she too belonged to the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, the same church to which the two new saints belong.
Ahead of the canonisation programme, Cardinal Mar George Alenchery of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church told Indian media over phone from the Vatican City that to get two saints on one day was a historic blessing.
"I'm so happy that God has blessed us all through this historic event and we have now two saints and that happened on a single day, so today is very special," he said.
Alenchery also led a brief prayer session after the canonisation ceremony took place.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson PJ Kurien, who led the Indian delegation to the event at the Vatican, told reporters here over telephone that they were all excited to witness the historic occasion.
"I am sitting with the Kerala delegation and we are all elated and excited to be witnessing this," he said.
Kerala Water Resources Minister PJ Joseph, who is leading the state delegation, said the ceremony was the culmination of the hard and sincere work done by the two leaders of the church who have been canonised.
Across the state, the bells pealed in many Catholic churches as the function took place in the Vatican.
Chavara Achen and Evuprasiamma were in April this year cleared by the Pope for sainthood.
Christians constitute 23 percent of Kerala's 33 million population and 50 percent of them are Catholics.
Kuriakose Chavara was born on 10 February 1805, at Kainakary near Alappuzha as the son of Iko Kuriakose Chavara and Mariam Thoppil. At the young age of 13, he began his priesthood studies.
He entered the seminary in 1818 and was ordained on 29 November, 1829. Chavara became Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Verapoly (near Kochi) in 1861.
Chavara was also a social reformer and believed that intellectual development and education of women was the first step towards overall social welfare. He first responsible for the system called "a school along with every church", which was successful in making free education available for everyone.
Chavara died on 3 January, 1871, aged 65.
Sister Euphrasia was born as Rosa Eluvathingal Oct 7, 1877, at Edathuruthy (Ollur) in Thrissur district. She joined the congregation of the Mother of Carmel and received her veil as a nun in May 1900.
"Evuprasiamma", as she is known to the members of the local community around her convent in Ollur, brought spiritual solace to the people who approached her through prayers and wise counsel.
Sister Euphrasia, who was born on 17 October, 1877 at Arnattukara in Thrissur and died in 1952, was significantly a member of the Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC), founded by Chavara for women.
She was declared Servant of God in 1987 and beatified in 2006 after the approval of a miracle attributed through her intercession by the Vatican panel set up to consider her case for Sainthood.
She died on 29 August, 1952.
Sister Euphrasia was declared a Servant of God in 1987, followed by Venerable on 5 July, 2002.
She was declared as "Blessed" Dec 3, 2006, by Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil, the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar church.
The two of them incidentally belong to the same Carmelite congregation of the Syro Malabar Catholic church in the state.
"They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbour," Pope Francis told crowds in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.
"Their preference for the smallest and poorest was the reflection and measure of their unconditional love of God," said Francis, who chose his own papal name after the saint of Assisi, who symbolises austerity and love for the poor.
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