Mankidiyan, Mariam Thresia Chiramel, Bl.

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Baptized Thresia Mankidiyan (or Mankudian), virgin, mystic, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; b. April 26, 1876, Trichur, Puthenchira, Kerala, India; d. June 8, 1926, Kuzhikattusery. When Thresia was 12, her once-wealthy mother (Thanda) died leaving her with a father (Thoma) and elder brother who were alcoholics, along with three other siblings. Even as a child Thresia fasted four times weekly, kept all-night vigils, and, at age ten, consecrated her life to God, the poor, sick, lonely, and orphaned. Beginning in 1909, Thresia experienced many mystical phenomena. She joined the Carmelite tertiaries in 1910. Three years later she received long-awaited permission from her bishop, Apostolic Vicar Mar John Menachery, to enter consecrated community life with three friends, who also dedicated themselves to prayer and penance. They defied convention by venturing into the streets unaccompanied to serve those in need. The Congregation of the Holy Family was canonically established May 14, 1914 with Mariam Thresia as superior and the Rule of the Holy Family Sisters of Bordeaux. In 1915, she founded a girls school in Puthenchira. At the time of her death 11 years later, the congregation had 55 sisters in three convents running four schools, a study home, and an orphanage. By 2000, the congregation had grown to more than 1,500 members serving the poor in Germany, Ghana, India, and Italy. Thresia, considered the forerunner of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, was beatified by John Paul II, April 9, 2000.

Feast: June 6.

Bibliography: k. c. chacko, Mother Mariam Thresia (Trichur 1992). Mother Mariam Thresia Committee, Gharhika sabhayute pravācika (Trichur, Kerala, India 1989).

[k. i. rabenstein]