Prayers in Kerala ahead of Sister Mariam Thresia’s sainthood

Iringalakkuda,Thrissur: Thousands of believers rushed to the tomb of Sister Mariam Thresia in Kerala’s Iringalakkuda, in the Thrissur district ahead of her canonisation on Sunday, when she will become the fourth saint from the state.

Pope Francis will declare Blessed Mariam Thresia a saint during a ceremony at the St Peter’s Square in the Vatican in the afternoon. The Kerala nun will be canonised along with John Henry Newman from England, Italy’s Josephine Vannini, Swiss Marguerite Bays and Brazilian Irm Dulce Pontes.

Puthenchira village, where Sister Mariam Thresia was born on April 26, 1876, is decked up and a special crown of a saint will be placed on her tomb to mark the occasion, officials said.

“Thousands of believers have converged here. There will be special prayers the whole day and the village is in the devout mood. It is a great recognition of believers of the country,” said Mar Sebastian Pozoparambil of the Syro Malabar Diocese of Hosur.

Special prayers and masses are being held in all the Catholic churches across the state to mark the occasion.

A big delegation from the state is in the Vatican to witness the event and minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan is representing the country.

“The stage is set and the Pope will begin the function with a prayer at 1.30pm India time. It is a proud moment for the country and believers. It is an occasion for us to uphold values taught by our beloved Mother,” said Cardinal Mar George Alancherry, the senior-most cardinal of the country, in his message from Vatican.

Mariam Thresia is fourth from the state after St Alphonsa, St Kuriakose Elias Chavara, St Euphrasia to be ordained a saint. And, she is among the three women to be canonised.

St Alphonsa was the first from the country to receive sainthood in 2008.

Born in 1876 as the third child of Thoma and Thanda, Mariam Thresia made a vow to remain chaste in 1886. Through sheer sacrifice and dedication, she rose in the religious hierarchy and founded the Holy Family congregation in 1914, said congregation officials.

“She was the leading light for suppressed women. She encouraged family values and blended them with Christian traditions properly to remove evils from the society,” said a nun of the congregation.

A canonisation is an official act with the Roman Catholic Church or Eastern Orthodox churches, which declares one of their deceased faithful, who led a life of sanctity or shed blood for the faith, a saint worthy of being venerated.

According to Christian belief, a saint is a person in heaven with God, interceding for the faithful. The process of ordaining a saint is time-consuming as a person is first declared Venerable, Servant of God, Blessed and then a Saint and could take decades.

A miracle has to be attributed to the saint in the making and a high-level committee from the Vatican examines its veracity before canonisation.

Sister Thresia was declared venerable on June 28, 1999, and beatified or Blessed on April 9, 2000, by Pope St John Paul II in Rome.

Pope Francis had authorised a decree on February 12 recognising a miracle through her intercession, which cleared her for sainthood, and on July 1, he decided October 13 as the canonisation day.

The miracle attributed to Thresia is that “she saved the life of a baby born prematurely in Amala Hospital in Thrissur in 2009”