Kerala Nun Mariam Thresia Becomes Fourth Indian to Be Canonised

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Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam

The canonisation of Blessed Mariam Thresia at St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, on Sunday, 13 October, has made her the fourth Indian to be declared a saint by the Vatican.

On 1 July, when Pope Francis had formally approved the canonisation of Blessed Mariam Thresia, people across India swelled with joy and pride.

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, PTI reported.

The ceremony included a Latin hymn and a recommendation by a representative of the Congregation for the Saints, while Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan led the Indian delegation at the ceremony.

Who is Mariam Thresia?

Born Thresia, to a humble Syrian Catholic family in a remote village of Kerala’s Thrissur district on 26 April 1896, Mother Marian Thresia was later globally recognised for her work in the field of human welfare.

The Quint reached out to the Delhi province of Mother Thresia’s congregation to learn some very interesting facts about the late nun’s life.

"“Mother’s mission was to serve the families; she nursed the sick, prepared those on the deathbed and took care of the abandoned. She believed in the family apostolate. Her aim was Christianisation of families and that is the motto of our congregation.”" - Sister Pavana, Congregation of Holy Family (Delhi Province)

While most nuns of her age remained within the four walls of the convent, Sister Thresia was the exception.

At the age of 28, Sister Thresia added Mariam to her name claiming it was the request of Mother Mary, who had appeared before her in a vision.

She was looked at with suspicion by other nuns and the Church as she threw herself among the poorest of the poor to serve them.

Blessed Mariam Thresia’s followers believe her charity was complemented by mystical gifts like healing, aura of light, ecstasies and stigmata (wounds of Christ on her hands). This led to her being misunderstood; some even thought she was possessed.

What Led to Her Canonisation?

The Roman Catholic Church has attributed many miracles to Blessed Mariam Thresia, two of which contributed greatly to the formal approval for her canonisation.

  • In April 2000, St Paul John II beatified the late nun. The miracle involved treatment of congenital clubfeet by fasting and prayers invoking the help of Mother Thresia.

  • In 2009, a child recovered from acute respiratory distress syndrome after the family prayed for the intercession of Mariam Thresia by placing her relic near the baby.

Mother Thresia died on 8 June 1986, due to a wound worsened by her diabetes.

In his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address on 29 September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to Mother Mariam Thresia, calling her the pride of India.

"“It is a matter of pride for every Indian that, on the coming October 13, his holiness Pope Francis will declare Sister Mariam Thresia a saint. I pay heartfelt tribute to Sister Mariam Thresia and congratulate the citizens of India, and especially our Christian brothers and sisters, for this achievement.”" - PM Narendra Modi

The preparations in Kerala and at other provinces of Congregation are on in full swing. While a thanksgiving mass will be organised in every church on 13 October, the grand celebrations will begin after the delegation returns from Rome.

"“Mega celebrations will be held in Kerala from 8-16 November. These include rallies, church ceremonies, feasts, national thanksgiving mass and public meetings which will be attended by various politicians as well.”" - Sister Pavana, Congregation of Holy Family (Delhi Province)The Congregation of Holy Family

Mother Thresia was the founder of The Congregation of Holy Family (CHF), an organisation dedicated to imparting Christian values to the families.

The website of the Congregation describes Mother Thresia as a woman of vision, courage and prayer.

Mariam Thresia founded the Congregation of Holy Family in 1914.
Mariam Thresia founded the Congregation of Holy Family in 1914.

The Congregation started in 1914 and now has nine provinces across the country.

Similarities to Mother Teresa

Mother Mariam Thresia, like Mother Teresa, worked for the poorest of the poor and her work is predominantly based in India.

Mother Mariam Thresia founded The Congregation of Holy Family in 1914, 36 years before Mother Teresa established ‘Missionaries of Charity’, and both the organisations are religious congregations which work for the welfare of the poor and the marginalised.

Why is Canonisation a Big Deal?

Mariam Thresia’s canonisation is a feather in the cap of the Syro-Malabar Church.

Chiefly based in Kerala, the church has now given a fourth saint and has a strength of over 40,000 priests and religious women serving across the globe.

"“When I was six, my companions used to laugh, calling me granny because I went to Mass every day. As my mother came to know of it she objected to my going to church daily. I requested her not to tell so because one does not have to reach a certain age to love god.” " - Mariam Thresia in her autobiographical notes

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