India's Father Kuriakose, Sister Euphrasia are saints, decrees Pope

Pope Francis on Sunday declared the late Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia Eluventhinkal, both of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church from India, to be Saints.

With their Canonisation, the centuries-old Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has three Saints, the first being Sister Alphonsa, who was raised to the revered rank in 2008.

The Syrian Catholic Church, as it is commonly called, has most of its adherents in the south-west Indian state of Kerala.

Father? Kuriakose and Sister Euphrasia were declared Saints during a special mass at St Peter's Square at the Vatican, Syro-Malabar Catholic Church officials said.

According to scholars, the Syrian Church traces its origin to the visit of the Apostle St Thomas to the Kerala coast in the first century. It is one of the 22 Eastern Churches in Full Communion with Rome.

The Pope declared Father Chavara and Sister Euphrasia Saints during a special mass at St Peter's Square at Vatican, a moment shared in elation and spiritual fervour by churches across Kerala, where the faithful thronged in large numbers for thanksgiving services and prayers.

A large number of devotees, including two cardinals, bishops, and clergy including nuns from Kerala attended the ceremony at the Vatican.

Three places closely associated to the lives of Chavara and Euprhasia at Mannman in Kottayam, Koonammavu in Ernakulam and Ollur in Thrissur have already been in a jubilant mood for the last several days.

Founder of the congregation Carmalites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), F Kuriakose Elias Chavara (1805-1871) was more than a spiritual leader of Syro-Malabar Catholic community. Historians and church chroniclers consider him as a social reformer who gave thrust to secular education of not only Catholics but also of children other communities, especially the depressed classes.

Incidentally, one of the first institutions he founded was a Sanskrit school.

As the Prior General of the congregation, Chavara also took initiative for setting up a printing press and encouraged the community leaders to launch its own publications.

The CMI has over the decades set up a large number of educational and charity organisations within and outside Kerala, drawing inspiration from the work and vision of its founder.

He was born in a family of modest means at Kainakari village in Kuttanad in Alappuzha district on 10 February 1805. He entered the seminary for training as a priest at a young age. After his ordination in 1829, he took the initiative to form the CMI in 1831, the first congregation for men in the Syro Malabar Church.

The Canonisation procedures in his case began long back and he was declared a Venerable in 1984; subsequently he was beatified by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Kerala in 1986.

Sister Euprhasia chose to live in the confines of a convent in Thrissur, helping the people who came seeking her support.

''Evuprasiamma", as she is known to the members of the local community around her convent in Ollur, brought spiritual solace to the people who approached her through prayers and wise counsel.

Sister Euphrasia was born on October 17, 1877 at Arnattukara in Thrissur and died in 1952. She was a member of the Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC) founded by Chavara for women.

She was declared Servant of God in 1987 and beatified in 2006 after the approval of a miracle attributed to her intercession by the Vatican panel set up to consider her case for Sainthood.