Festive atmosphere at St Alphonsa's home town
Kottayam (PTI): A festive atmosphere prevailed as crackers were burst and fireworks lit up the skies at nearby Bharnanganam and Kudamaloor, the native of Sister Alphonsa, soon after she was proclaimed as India's first woman Saint by Pope Benedict XVI at a function in Vatican.
Alphonsa's ancestral home is situated at Kudamaloor and her belongings have been preserved in a museum there. Her tomb is at Bharnanganam.
It was a festive atmosphere at Bharananganam and Kudamaloor since early Sunday morning. Giant screens had been put up in both the places for the worshippers to witness the live telecast of the ceremony from Vatican.
As the Pope made the declaration, the faithful sang hymns and distributed sweets to each other. Special prayers were also held at both the places.
Long queues were seen in front of Alphonsa Museum at Kudamaloor where the belongings of the saint have been kept.
Young and old have been thronging Bharananganam and Kudamaloor since the past few days to worship as they believe that offering prayers at her tomb will cure illness and bring them good luck.
Among those who witnessed the ceremony at Vatican are 10-year-old Jinli Merin Shaji, whose miraculous cure eventually led to the canonisation of Sr Alphonsa.
Jinli was born with a clubfoot and his worried parents had taken him to the tomb of Alphonsa when he was one year old to offer prayers. The boy was made to lie on the tomb of the nun and he was cured after that, according to his relatives.
Holy mass was held every hour from 5 am on Sunday morning. A procession, led by Cherupushpa Mission League and Catholic Youth Movement of believers, was taken out from Pala to Bharananganam.
The Catholic Church is organising a public meeting at Bharnanaganam on November 9 in connection with the grant of Sainthood to Sr Alphonsa.
Former President A P J Abdul Kalam will participate in the meeting, Church sources said.
Cardinal Pedro Lopez, Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Apostolic Nuncio to India Pedro Lopez Quinthana, Cardinals Telespore Toppo and Oswald Gracias Angelo will be among those participating in the meeting.