Wednesday, January 21, 2015

One of My New Favorite Saints: She's From India, She's Modern, and She's Franciscan

Happy Wednesday, and happy feast of St. Agnes!

This semester, I am abundantly blessed to be in the class, "Eastern Christianity." We talk about the controversies, traditions, and overall wealth of information surrounding Eastern Christian churches. Today, we spent our entire class watching a Youtube video of a liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East. It's a blast! Being in this class has given me the excuse to research random, awesome Eastern Christian things, because "it's research." So naturally, when I'm blowing off homework by researching cool Eastern Catholic saints, I'm totally justified, right? : P 

I was incredibly excited, the other day, to discover an awesome modern saint. I absolutely love learning about her life, and I would like to share some cool info about her with all of you. Without further ado, let's talk about St. Alphonsa!

1. She was born on August 19, 1910, in the present-day Kerala State (a region of India). And, she was a Syro-Malabar Catholic. (So, feel free to listen to some joyous Bollywood music while you read this post.) 

2. She was baptized "Anna," but her family affectionately called her "Annakutty." Pretty sweet. Her mom died 29 days after giving birth to her, so Anna was raised with her cousins. When Anna was about 6 years old, her grandmother began teaching her about Mary and the saints. Anna's devotion to the saints grew, and she had a special devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux. In fact, St. Therese appeared to her in a vision. How insanely cool is that? 

3. With the appearance of St. Therese, Anna was inspired to be a religious sister. But, her family wanted none of that. Anna had intended to burn her feet a bit on some chaff after the rice harvest, but that resulted in Anna slipping and falling into the fire a bit, which ultimately caused her feet to be badly burned, so that they had to be surgically healed. (Another reason why I love her: I love going barefoot, so I can ask her to help me take care of my feet!) After this incident, her relatives permitted her to enter a Franciscan convent. (Yay! Franciscans!) So, Anna entered the convent on May 24, 1927. On August 2, 1928, she became a Postulant, and took the name "Alphonsa" after St. Alphonsus Liguori. 

4. She experienced many physical and mental sufferings, and offered herself as a victim soul for others. Soon after she made Perpetual Vows (on August 12, 1936), she came down with a severe fever. Her community prayed to the intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux and Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, and Alphonsa was miraculously cured. She had seen visions of both of these people. (She had two visions of St. Therese in her life. SO COOL!!!!)

5. After a life of suffering (which included a nervous breakdown) and love, Alphonsa died on July 28, 1946. (so her feast day is July 28th)

This chick is so epic. Take a look at some pretty mega legit things she said:

"I had aspired zealously to become a saint. I felt that burning desire after reading the autobiography of St. Little Teresa of Lisieux."

"Like Veronica, I shall wipe the blood stained face of my Lord, with the silken kerchief of my chaste soul dipping it in the aromatic perfume of love and suffering."

"I have chosen novel flowers of sufferings and mortification to offer to my beloved Lord each day. I shall try to collect more and more flowers daily."

"Was it not aloft a cross that my Spouse did die? I too must die upon a cross of sufferings."

"My beloved Lord is dwelling within my heart. Nobody can take Him away from there."

St. Alphonsa, pray for us!

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