Two Kerala-born Indian Catholics Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia were canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday at St Peter’s Square in Vatican.
Back in Kerala, special prayers and meetings were held in all places linked to the life and death of Chavara and Euphrasia. A large number of faithful thronged the tombs of the saints.
Chavara, who lived in the 19th century, had been a visionary priest and social reformer whose contributions spread across education, media and social justice.
He had started the first school for weaker sections and ensured every church erected a school nearby. The priest, who fought for appointing Kerala priests as bishops instead of foreign missionaries, had founded the first Catholic religious congregation for men and women in the country. Towards the fag end of his life, Chavara had been appointed as the first vicar-general of the Syro-Malabar Church, taking it from the shadow of the Latin Catholic Church in Kerala. Chavara died in 1871.
Euphrasia had been a member of the congregation Carmelites of Mother Carmel (CMC), founded by Chavara. Known as ‘praying mother’, she had fully dedicated her life to prayer. She died in 1952 at the age of 75
Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in Kerala on Saturday initiated the canonization process of a foreign missionary brother Forthunathus Thanhauser, who lived and died in the high ranges of Idukki.
Thanhauser joined the league of 24 Indian Catholics in the category of servant of god, the first step towards canonization. There is another batch of nine persons in the category of Venerable and seven others as the blessed, the last stage towards sainthood. A major chunk of these Catholics in various stages of sainthood hails from Kerala.