Indian nun Sister Mariam Thresia and four others were declared Saints by Pope Francis at a grand ceremony at the Vatican City today.
Sister Thresia, who founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family in Thrissur in May 1914, was raised to the highest position within the centuries-old institution during the ceremony at the St Peter's Square.
The nun from Kerala was canonised along with English Cardinal John Henry Newman, Swiss laywoman Marguerite Bays, Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes and Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini.
The ceremony included a Latin hymn and a recommendation by a representative of the Congregation for the Saints. Huge portraits of the five new Saints were hung from Saint Peter's Basilica during the ceremony, which was attended by tens of thousands of devotees. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan led the Indian delegation at the ceremony.
Sister Thresia was born on April 26, 1876 in Kerala's Thrissur district. She died on June 8, 1926 at the age of 50. On April 9, 2000, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II.
She started out in social work at age 16 by working for patients affected by herpes. She served as a nun for 11 years after becoming one at age 38. She worked for strengthening family ties in the local community and serving the poor.
All through the week, special prayers and mass have been held in Thrissur for Sister Mariam Thresia.
In February, Pope Francis approved the miracle attributed to Sister Thresia. In 2009, the relic of Sister Thresia was put on the chest of a premature baby and he was healed.
The miracle boy and his then doctor were part of the team, who attended the canonisation ceremony of Sister Mariam Thresia in Rome. Hundreds of devotees, church leaders from India and political delegation of various MPs from Kerala also participated in the ceremony. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan led the Indian delegation.
With Sunday's canonisation, the centuries-old Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala now has four Saints, the first being Sister Alphonsa, who was declared a saint in 2008. Others are Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara, popularly known as Chavara Achen, and Sister Euphrasia, popularly known as Evuprasiamma, who were declared Saint by the Pope in 2014.
Sister Thresia was called during the first half of her life simply Thresia, the name given to her at baptism on May 3, 1876. In 1904, she started to be called Mariam Thresia as she believed that she was asked to add "Mariam" to her name by the Blessed Virgin Mary in a vision.
"In imitation of Jesus, she helped the poor, nursed the sick, visited and comforted the lonely people of her parish. She was also blessed with the stigmata but kept it secret to avoid attention."
"She received several mystical gifts like prophecy, healing, an aura of light, sweet odour and frequently had ecstasies and levitations."
"Her entire existence was tormented by demons and she offered her sufferings for the remission of the sins of the world," the Vatican News said.
In his "Mann ki Baat" radio programme on September 29, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had referred to Sister Mariam Thresia and said it is a matter of pride for every Indian that she would be declared a saint.
"Sister Thresia, in her short lifespan of 50 years, worked for the good of humanity becoming a noble example for the entire world. Whatever task Sister Mariam Thresia undertook and accomplished, she did so with utmost dedication and devotion," PM Modi had said.
She rendered service in the fields of education and social service and has built many schools, hostels and orphanages, PM Modi had said.
(With inputs from PTI)