28 July – St Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception

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Jul 28, 2022, 2:47:30 AMJul 28
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28 July – St Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception

– Religious Franciscan Nun – born as Anna Muttathupadathu (19 August
1910 at Kudamalloor, Kerala, India – 28 July 1946 at Bharananganam,
India, of natural causes). Her remains are buried in the chapel
connected with the cemetery of Saint Mary’s church, Bharananganam,
India, which has become an important place of pilgrimage. She was
Canonised on Sunday 12 October 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI. She is the
first canonised saint of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, an Eastern
Catholic Church of the Saint Thomas Christian community. Patronages –
against bodily ills, against the death of parents of sick people.

Blessed ALPHONSA OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION was born in Kudamalur,
the Arpookara region, in the diocese of Changanacherry, India, on the
19th of August 1910, of the ancient and noble family of
Muttathupadathu.

From her birth, the life of the Blessed was marked by the cross, which
would be progressively revealed to her as the royal way to conform
herself to Christ. Her mother, Maria Puthukari, gave birth to her
prematurely, in her eight month of pregnancy, as a result of a fright
she received when, during the sleep, a snake wrapped itself around her
waist. Eight days later, the 28 of August, the child was baptised
according to the Syro-Malabar rite by the Fr Joseph Chackalayil and
she received the name Annakutty, a diminutive of Anne. She was the
last of five children. Her mother died three months later. Annakutty
passed her early infancy in the home of her grandparents in
Elumparambil. There she lived a particularly happy time because of her
human and Christian formation, during which the first seeds of a
vocation flowered. Her grand-mother, a pious and charitable woman,
communicated the joy of the faith, love for prayer and a surge of
charity towards the poor to her. At five years of age the child
already knew how to lead, with a totally childish enthusiasm, the
evening prayer of the family gathered, in accordance with the
Syro-Malabar custom, in the “prayer room”.

Annakutty received the Eucharistic bread for the first time on the 11
of November 1917. She used to say to her friends: “Do you know why I
am so particularly happy today? It is because I have Jesus in my
heart!“. In a letter to her spiritual father, on the 30 of November
1943, she confided the following: “Already from the age of seven I
was no longer mine. I was totally dedicated to my divine Spouse. Your
reverence knows it well“.

In the same year of 1917 she began to attend the elementary school of
Thonnankuzhy, where she also established a sincere friendship with the
Hindu children. When the first school cycle ended in 1920, the time
had come to transfer to Muttuchira, to the house of her aunt Anna
Murickal, to whom her mother, before she died, had entrusted her as
her adoptive mother. Her aunt was a severe and demanding woman, at
times despotic and violent in demanding obedience from Annakutty in
her every minimal disposition or desire. Assiduous in her religious
practice, she accompanied her niece but did not share the young girl’s
friendship with the Carmelites of the close-by Monastery or her long
periods of prayer at the foot of the altar. She was, in fact,
determined to procure an advantageous marriage for Annakutty,
obstructing the clear signs of her religious vocation.

The virtue of the Blessed was manifested in accepting this severe and
rigid education as a path of humility and patience for the love of
Christ and tenaciously resisted the reiterated attempts at engagement
to which the aunt tried to oblige her. Annakutty, in order to get out
from under a commitment to marriage, reached the point of voluntarily
causing herself a grave burn by putting her foot into a heap of
burning embers. “My marriage was arranged when I was thirteen years
old. What had I to do to avoid it? I prayed all that night… then an
idea came tome. If my body were a little disfigured no one would want
me! … O, how I suffered! I offered all for my great intention.“

The proposal to defile her singular beauty did not fully succeed in
freeing her from the attentions of suitors. During the following years
the Blessed had to defend her vocation, even during the year of
probation when an attempt to give her in marriage, with the complicity
of the Mistress of Formation herself, was made. “O, the vocation
which I received! A gift of my good God!…. God saw the pain of my soul
in those days. God distanced the difficulties and established me in
this religious state.“st-alphonsa-of-bharanangan1

It was Fr James Muricken, her confessor, who directed her towards
Franciscan spirituality and put her in contact with the Congregation
of the Franciscan Clarists. Annakutty entered their college in
Bharananganam in the diocese of Palai, to attend seventh class, as an
intern student, on the 24th of May 1927. The following year, on the
2nd of August 1928, Annakutty began her postulancy, taking the name of
Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception in honour of St. Alphonsus
Liguori, whose feast it was that day. She was clothed in the religious
habit on the 19th of May 1930, during the first pastoral visit made to
Bharananganam by the Bishop, Msgr. James Kalacherry.

The period 1930-1935 was characterised by grave illness and moral
suffering. She could teach the children in the school at Vakakkad only
during the scholastic year 1932. Then, because of her weakness, she
carried out the duties of assistant-teacher and catechist in the
parish. She was engaged also as secretary, especially to write
official letters because of her beautiful script.

The canonical novitiate was introduced into the Congregation of the
Franciscan Clarists in 1934. Though wishing to enter immediately, the
Blessed was only admitted on the 12th of August 1935 because of her
ill health. About one week after the beginning of her novitiate, she
had a haemorrhage from the nose and eyes and a profound organic
wasting and purulent wounds on her legs. The illness deteriorated, to
such a point that the worst was feared.

Heaven came to the rescue of the holy novice. During a novena to The
Servant of God Fr Kuriakose Elia Chavara – a Carmelite who today is a
Blessed—she was miraculously and instantaneously cured.

Having restarted her novitiate, she wrote the following proposals in
her spiritual diary: “I do not wish to act or speak according to my
inclinations. Every time I fail, I will do penance… I want to be
careful never to reject anyone. I will only speak sweet words to
others. I want to control my eyes with rigour. I will ask pardon of
the Lord for every little failure and I will atone for it through
penance. No matter what my sufferings may be, I will never complain
and if I have to undergo any humiliation, I will seek refuge in the
Sacred Heart of Jesus.“

The 12th of August 1936, the feast of St Clare, the day of her
perpetual profession, was a day of inexpressible spiritual joy. She
had realised her desire, guarded for a long time in her heart and
confided to her sister Elizabeth when she was only 12 years old:
“Jesus is my only Spouse and none other.“

Jesus, however, wished to lead His spouse to perfection through a life
of suffering. “I made my perpetual profession on the 12th of August
1936 and came here to Bharanganam on the following 14th. From that
time, it seems, I was entrusted with a part of the cross of Christ.
There are abundant occasions of suffering… I have a great desire to
suffer with joy. It seems that my Spouse wishes to fulfil this
desire.“

Painful illnesses followed each other: typhoid fever, double
pneumonia, and, the most serious of all, a dramatic nervous shock, the
result of a fright on seeing a thief during the night of the 18th of
October 1940. Her state of psychic incapacity lasted for about a year,
during which she was unable to read or write.

In every situation, Sister Alphonsa always maintained a great
reservation and charitable attitude towards the Sisters, silently
undergoing her sufferings. In 1945 she had a violent outbreak of
illness. A tumour, which had spread throughout her organs, transformed
her final year of life into a continuous agony. Gastroenteritis and
liver problems caused violent convulsions and vomiting up to forty
times a day: “I feel that the Lord has destined me to be an oblation,
a sacrifice of suffering… I consider a day in which I have not
suffered as a day lost to me.“

With this attitude of a victim for the love of the Lord, happy until
the final moment and with a smile of innocence always on her lips,
Sister Alphonsa quietly and joyfully brought her earthly journey to a
close in the convent of the Franciscan Clarists at Bharananganam at
12.30 on the 28th July 1946, leaving behind the memory of a Sister
full of love and a saint.

Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception Muttathupadathu was proclaimed
Blessed by Pope John Paul II in Kottayam, India on 8 February 1986.

https://anastpaul.com/2017/07/28/


Saint Quote:
Love does not consist in shedding tears, nor in tasting sweetness and that
tenderness in which one seeks consolation; it consists in serving God in
justice, in strength of soul, and in humility.
--St. Teresa of Avila

Bible Quote
And the centurion, making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that
thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my
servant shall be healed. (Matthew 8:8) DRB


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Holy Anne, Juda’s Glory
Unknown Author
Transl. Fr Edward Caswell CO (1814-1878)

Holy Anne, Juda’s glory,
⁠Through the Church from east to west
Every tongue proclaims thy praises,
⁠Holy Mary’s mother blest!

Saintly kings and priestly sires
⁠Blended in thy sacred line;
Thou in virtue all before thee
⁠Didst excel by grace divine.

Link’d in bonds of purest wedlock,
⁠Thine it was for us to bear,
By the favour of high Heaven,
⁠Our immortal Virgin star.

From thy stem in beauty budded
⁠Ancient Jesse’s mystic rod.
Earth from thee received the mother
⁠Of the eternal Son of God.

All the human race benighted
⁠In the depths of darkness lay,
“When in Anne it saw the dawning
⁠Of the long-expected day.

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