Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia from India were today conferred Sainthood by Pope...
Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia from India were among six conferred Sainthood by Pope Francis today at a special canonisation mass here, a moment of elation and spiritual fervour for the Christians in India.
Reformist Catholic priest Chavara and reclusive nun Euphrasia from Kerala along with four other beatified Italians were declared Saints by the Pope during the mass at St Peter’s Square at Vatican, attended by tens of thousands of worshippers from across the world.
About 5,000 believers from Kerala led by two cardinals, bishops, clergy and nuns travelled to Vatican to witness the solemn event, which was also shown live onto special screens set up outside churches in the state.
The four other Saints from Italy are Giovanni Antonio Farina, Ludovico da Casoria, Nicola da Longobardi and Amato Ronconi.
With Chavara and Euphrasia’s canonisation, the finale of the long-drawn process is known in Catholic parlance, the centuries-old Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Kerala has three Saints, the first being Sister Alphonsa raised to the revered rank in 2008.
Conferring the Sainthood, the Pope said the new Saints provided examples of service to “the smallest and the poorest.”
“Today the Church places before us the example of these new saints…They dedicated themselves, without holding back, to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims. Their preference for the smallest and poorest was the reflection and measure of their unconditional love of God,” Pope Francis was quoted as saying by Vatican Radio.
Three places closely associated to the lives of Chavara and Euprhasia at Mannman in Kottayam, Koonammavu in Ernakulam and Ollur in Thrissur have been in a jubilant mood for the last several days with the faithful thronging churches in large numbers for thanks giving service and prayers.
Founder of the congregation Carmalites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), F Kuriakose Elias Chavara, who was born in a family of modest means in Kuttanad in Alappuzha district in 1805 and died in 1871, was more than a spiritual leader of Syro Malabar Catholic community.
Historians and church chroniclers consider him as a social reformer who gave thrust to secular education of not only Catholics but also of children of other communities, especially the depressed classes. Incidentally, one of the first institutions he founded was a Sanskrit school.
Sister Euphrasia, who was born in 1877 at Arnattukara in Thrissur and died in 1952, on the other hand, was more meditatively inclined, who chose to live in the confines of a convent in Thrissur helping people through prayers and wise counsel.
“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.
As the Prior General of the congregation, Chavara also took initiative for setting up a printing press and encouraged the community leaders to launch its own publication.
The CMI has over the decades set up a large number of educational and charity organisations within and outside Kerala, drawing inspiration from the work and vision of its founder.
Father Chavara entered the seminary for training as a priest at a young age. After his ordination in 1829, he took the initiative to form the CMI in 1831, the first congregation for men in the Syro Malabar Church.
The canonisation procedures in his case began long back and was declared a Venerable in 1984 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II, during his visit to Kerala in 1986.
Sister Euphrasia 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
Conferring the Sainthood, the Pope said, “Through the rite of canonisation, we have confessed once again the mystery of God’s kingdom and we have honoured Christ the King, the Shepherd full of love for his sheep.”
“Let us follow in their footsteps, imitating their faith and love, so that our hope too may be clothed in immortality. May we not allow ourselves to be distracted by other earthly and fleeting interests,” the Pope said.