KOCHI: Signalling a massive shift in the base of those who follow the Roman Catholic faith, the canonisation of Mother Teresa is set to be a harbinger of many more saints from India.
With 21 names, Kerala has the highest number of indigenous people in the list of probable saints. They include 15 from the Syro-Malabar Church, five from the Kerala Latin Catholic Church and one from the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (Archbishop Geevargese Mar Ivanios). Three saints from India—Sr Alphonsa, Fr Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sr Euphresia—belong to the Syro-Malabar Church.
The Catholic Church in India, which accounts for around 1.55 per cent of the global Catholic population, has much to cheer as 30 people from the country are on the path to sainthood. The list goes up to 44, when the number of European missionaries who had served in India and are buried in the country are taken into account.
Three among them—Mariam Thresia of Thrissur, Thevarparambil Kunjachan of Pala (Fr Augustine) and Deva Sahayam Pilla of the erstwhile Travancore kingdom—are in the third and final stage of canonisation. Those in the ‘Venerable’ status—the phase-II of canonisation—are Bishop Thomas Kurialacherry, Fr Mathew Kadalikkattil and Fr Joseph Vithayathil.
Though most in the list are priests and bishops, it includes a married woman and tribal woman of Indian origin—Sr Mary Bernadette Prasad Kispotta of Ranchi and Mother Thadipatri Gnanamma of Guntur. Mother Eliswa of Kerala had became a nun after marriage. Mother Thadipatri Gnanamma is the founder of the congregations of St Anne-Madras and St Anne-Phirangipuram. Sr Mary Bernadette, founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of St Anne, is the first tribal woman to be declared ‘Servant of God’ by the Catholic Church.
Of the 44 saint probables from India (including the foreign missionaries), three were beatified by elevating them to the status of ‘Blessed,’ while nine are in the ‘Venerable’ phase. The remaining 32 are in first phase, which is ‘Servants of God’.