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Kerala Catholics hope Pope will visit state

Thousands of Catholics in Kerala hope Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in Kerala in July next year to declare the Blessed Alphonsa a saint.

india Updated: Jul 03, 2007 15:15 IST

Thousands of Catholics in Kerala are hoping that Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in Kerala in July next year to declare the Blessed Alphonsa a saint.

The Pope cleared the way for the canonisation of the Blessed Alphonsa on June 1 this year. She will become the first Indian to be made a saint by the Catholic church.

Father Paul Thellekat, the spokesperson of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, told IANS on Tuesday that as of now the news is that the Pope will make the announcement of her canonisation in Vatican some time during the end of this year.

However, Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, the head of the Malankara Catholic Church, said efforts have begun to ensure that on his way to attend the World Youth Day in Sydney in July next year Pope Benedict XVI visits Kerala to make a formal announcement of the conferring of sainthood on the Blessed Alphonsa.

"With the Pope clearing her to be named as the first Saint from India, it would be a great honour if he makes the announcement in Kerala itself," said Catholicos.

Alphonsa was born on August 19, 1910 in Kudamaloor village in Kottayam district, about 160 kms from Kerala's capital city Thiruvananthapuram. Having lost her mother at a very young age, she was brought up by her maternal aunt and educated by an uncle who was a priest.

Alphonsa often faced health problems that eventually claimed her life on July 28, 1946. Her tomb at Bharananganam in Kottayam district has turned into a pilgrimage centre and many miracles have reportedly occurred there.

On December 2, 1953, the process for her beatification was started and she was finally beatified on February 8, 1986.

Christians constitute 23 per cent of Kerala's 30 million population and 50 per cent of them are Catholics.