She suffered herself to heal the sufferings of others — that was how Pope Benedict XVI described the Kerala nun, Sister Alphonsa, and declared her a saint at a ceremony at St Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Sunday.
Thousands of kilometres away, in the small pocket of Bharaninganam near Kottayam in God’s Own Country, tears welled up in the eyes of the devout kneeling before Alphonsa’s tomb.
For, this is where the saint lived and died decades ago.
Braving rain, thousands thronged Alphonsa Chapel in Bharaninganam and Alphonsa Bhavan in Kudamaloor — the saint’s birth place. The Sunday was special and these simple, god-fearing folks wanted to cherish this day for rest of their lives.
After the canonisation ceremony at St Peter’s Basilica — Bharaninganam saw the ceremony live at 1:30 pm IST, ringing bells and setting off crackers — the Pope said Alphonsa’s “heroic virtues of patience, fortitude and perseverance in the midst of suffering remind us that God always provides the strength we need to overcome every trial”.
He did not forget the recent “trial” of the times for Christians in the country, killed, maimed and hurt because of the faith they practice. Benedict’s appeal to those who unleashed the violence against Christians in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, was “to renounce these acts (and) join (to) work together in building a civilisation of love”.
But for Bharaninganam, Sunday was not the day to remember the hurt.