Kerala Catholics celebrate as Mariam Thresia declared Saint

Thrissur (Kerala), Oct 13 : Kerala Catholics celebrated on Sunday with the canonisation as Saint of the fourth member of their community earlier in the day by Pope Francis at the Vatican, who declared Sister Mariam Thresia as a new Saint along with four others.

Mariam Thresia founded the Congregation of the Holy Family (CHF) in 1914 at her village Puthenchira, near here.

The other three from the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala who have been canonised are St. Alphonsa, St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara and St. Euprasia.

Among them, Thresia has achieved the fastest sainthood, as it took her only 19 years to be canonised after being beatified in 2000.

Thresia was born the third of five children to Thoma and Thanda at Puthenchira on April 26, 1876, she took the celibate vow a decade later. In 1902, she chose priest Joseph Vithyathil as her spiritual head.

Following her visions of Mother Mary in 1904, the Sister adopted Mariam as her first nameA and started the CHF congregation in 1914.

She fell ill following an injury to her leg, and passed away on June 8, 1926, when she was only 50 years old.

The long road to be declared a Saint began in 1957. The prayer for beatification took place in 1963 and the first step towards canonisation began in 1971. Her grave was exhumed a decade later as part of the canonisation ritual.

In 1999, after completion of a series of processes, she was raised to the status of ‘Venerable’ and was beatified the following year.

A special prayer session was held at Thresia’s home parish of St Mary’s Church, while the ceremony at the Vatican was shown live in the church.

A fourth generation family member of Thresia said 70 members of their family are in Rome to attend the canonisation ceremony.

“The others are here taking part in the celebrations and everyone here is extremely happy and delighted that they are all able to witness this,” said Jotty Thomas.

“Every home in and around this place was visited by Saint Thresia when she was here and am sure they will feel elated today,” said the senior nun.

“Canonisation does not happen often and I don’t think a similar day, like today, will ever take place in my life and my happiness is at its peak,” said a parishioner.

Of the nearly 18 per cent Christian population of Kerala, more than 50 per cent are Catholics.

Incidentally at today’s function in Vatican, four others also were elevated to Sainthood and it includes Irm Dulce Pontes from Brazil, AMarguerite Bays from Switzerland, John Henry Newman from England and Italian, Josephine Vannini.

The four others declared Saints by Pope Francis on Sunday, along with Thresia, were English Cardinal John Henry Newman, Swiss laywoman Marguerite Bays, Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes and Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini.


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