Thrissur: The state of Kerala, which is considered the 'cradle of Christianity' in South Asia, is on its way to becoming a 'cradle of Saints' with the canonisation of Sister Mariam Thresia slated to be held next month. She is the fourth from the state who will be attaining sainthood, of which two were women.
Sister Thresia will be canonised by Pope Francis on October 13 this year at Vatican. Breaking the shackles of gender stereotypes, Sister Thresia founded the Congregation of the Holy Family, which was officially accepted in 1914.
Speaking to ANI, Sister Udaya of the Congregation of the Holy Family said: "In earlier times, there were a lot of restrictions on women in Kerala. They were not allowed to enter another person's house. But Mariam Thresia, born in 1876, was very bold and courageous. The restrictions did not deter her and she continued providing healthcare and educational facilities to people more than 100 years ago." Following a period of hardship, people started calling her a "woman of grace", said Sister Udaya. "There was a lot of acceptance. Later, the church found that she was genuine and allowed her to start the Congregation of the Holy Family." On July 1 this year, Pope Francis formally approved her canonisation at an ordinary public consistory of cardinals on causes of canonisation at the Vatican. "On October 13, we will have a mass and offer prayers at Kuzhikkattussery, where she was buried in 1926," said Sister Udaya.
Prior to this, Vatican had declared three Kerala-born Indian Catholics, including Sister Alphonsa, Sister Euphrasia and Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara, as Saints. "Joseph Vithayathil, the co-founder of the congregation will also attain it soon," claimed Sister Udaya. Since the time Saint Thomas came to India in 852 AD, Christianity has been growing exponentially, she added.
Sister Ruby, from the same congregation, echoed similar sentiments and said, "In Kerala, people have been following the religion for the last 2,000 years when Jesus Christ came to the world along with his disciples. One amongst them came to India and because of that people are living a saintly life here." Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed happiness over the canonisation of Mariam Thresia. Calling it a matter of pride, Modi, said, "It is a matter of pride for every Indian that on coming October 13, his holiness Pope Francis will declare Sister Mariam Thresia a saint. I pay heartfelt tributes to Sister Mariam Thresia."