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Sister Alphonsa

Alphonsa Muttathupadathu of Bharanaganam is the first Indian woman to be canonized to full sainthood. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986 and was officially declared a saint on October 12, 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI. Forty years after her death, on February 8, 1986, Pope John Paul II had beatified her at Kottayam. On June 1, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI authorised her canonization.

Born as Annakkutty (19th August 1910), in Kudamaloor a rural village in Kottayam district, Kerala, India, she was the fourth child to Joseph and Mary Muttathupadathu. She was baptized on August 27, 1910 at Saint Mary's Church in Kudamaloor under the patronage of Saint Anna. She received her First Communion on November 27, 1917. In 1923 Anna’s feet were badly burned when she fell into a pit of burning chaff. This accident left her permanently disabled. She arrived at the Poor Clares convent at Bharananganam on Pentecost day 1927. She received the postulant's veil on August 2, 1928 and took the name Alphonsa.

In December 1936 she was reportedly cured from her ailments. But later she was struck by a severe attack of double-pneumonia, which left her weakened. Later on she suffered from severe health problems. She died on July 28, 1946, aged 35. She is buried at Bharananganam, South India, in the Diocese of Palai. Her tomb in Bharananganam has become a pilgrimage site these days as miracles have been reported by some devotees. The miracle attributed to her intercession and approved by Vatican for the canonization was the healing of the club foot of an infant in 1999.

Bharananganam church, one of the famous Christian pilgrim centres is located near Palai in Kottayam district. The mortal remains of blessed Alphonsa are kept in a chapel next to the St. Mary's Church here. On July 28th of every year, the death anniversary of Sister, the Bharananganam church celebrates the holy Saint Alphonsa’s Feast.

Devotees can also visit Alphonsa museum in the Chapel compound, where hundreds of exhibits associated with the life of blessed Alphonsa are preserved.