More than 200 Catholics attended a special mass at Bandra’s Mount Mary Basilica on Wednesday to celebrate the beatification of Sister Maria Clara, a 19th century Portuguese nun whose congregation, the Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters, runs three schools and several other charitable institutes in Mumbai.
The nun, who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on May 21, now holds the title ‘Blessed’ and is one step away from being anointed with sainthood.
“Sister Maria Clara was a holy person with passionate love for the poor, and lived a touching and impressive life,” said Mumbai’s Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who conducted the mass on the nun’s 168th birth anniversary on Wednesday.
At the mass, devotees also had the opportunity to view a golden cross, a relic that belonged to the beatified nun. The cross has been brought temporarily to the city from Portugal.
Clara, who was born into nobility in Lisbon in 1843, turned to an austere religious life after losing her parents to yellow fever as an adolescent. She never visited India but she commissioned a few nuns to Goa, from where her congregation spread across India.
Clara’s beatification came soon after a Spanish patient of a severe gangrene infection claimed to have been miraculously cured by the nun. “After 34 years of suffering, the patient prayed to Mother Clara for interceding with God, and was soon cured,” said Sister Eunice Menezes, the provincial superior of the congregation’s Mumbai branch which celebrated its centenary last year.