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MUTTATHUPANDATU, ALPHONSA, BL.

Baptized Anna and called Annakutty, also known as Sister Alphonsa of India, Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, Alphonsa of Bharananganam; mystic, virgin of the Syro-Malabar Poor Clares; b. Aug.19, 1910, Arpukara, India; d. July 28, 1946, Bharananganam, India. The fourth child of Joseph Muttahupadathu and his wife Mary, who died shortly after her birth; her family ensured Annakutty was well educated in preparation for a good marriage. Recognizing her vocation to religious life, Annakutty rejected her suitors and disfigured herself with fire so that she would be unmarriageable. Thereafter she was permitted to join the tertiary Clarist sisters in their convent at Bharananganam (Pentecost 1927). With the veil of the postulant she received the name Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception (Aug. 2, 1928). She became a novice on August 12, 1935 and made final vows the following year. Throughout her life she endured repeated illness and physical pain, but received the consolation of mystical union. She possessed the gift of prophecy and experienced a vision of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Alphonsa's death after a prolonged illness went almost unnoticed. However, when miracles were granted to Alphonsa's beloved school children through her intercession, her tomb at Bharananganam became a pilgrimage site. The diocesan process for her beatification began, Dec. 2, 1953, and a miracle wrought through Alphonsa's intercession was approved, July 6, 1985. She and Blessed Kuriokose Chavara became the first Indians raised to the altars, when they were beatified at Kottayam, Archdiocese of Changanacherry, Kerala, India, by John Paul II, Feb. 8, 1986.

Feast: Feb. 8.

Bibliography: k. c. chacko, The Spirituality of Blessed Alphonsa (Ernakulam 1986). c. g. dempsey, Kerala Christian Sainthood: Collisions of Culture and Worldview in South India (Oxford 2001). Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1986): 306. L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed. 7 (1986): 67.

[k. i. rabenstein]

Muttathupandatu, Alphonsa, Bl.

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