08/12/2010, 00.00
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Special year for St. Alphonsa, the first Indian woman saint

by Nirmala Carvalho
The inauguration of the celebrations by President Patil. Card. Varkey Vithayathil stresses the value of the saint for our time: to return to God and give value to suffering. A world without God leads to chaos and violence. Suffering is considered a curse.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Today President Pratibha Devisingh Patil inaugurated the special year to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Sister Alphonsa of Bharananganam, the first Indian woman saint of the Catholic Church.

Patil also placed the first stone of a Centre for Palliative Care dedicated to the saint, and launched a project to care for the poor who suffer from heart problems, kidney problems and cancer.

AsiaNews asked the card. Varkey Vithayathil, archbishop of the Syro-Malabar church, about the value of St. Alphonsa’s witness for our time. "It is of great significance that the President of India has participated in the inauguration of the celebrations for the centenary of the first Indian saint. This reflects the religiosity of the Indian people, religious culture and appreciation for the sanctity of life. Holy people have always been venerated in our tradition and culture”.

Marking the birth of St. Alphonsa, serves to "suggest to the world that it return to God and love of Him." "Man - continues the cardinal - is trying to develop this world without God and the result is chaos and violence-“Turn to God” would be Saint Alphonsa’s message, because St Alphonsa loved God with all her heart "

Another point stressed by Card. Vithayathil is "the value of suffering." "The world - he explains - thinks that suffering is a curse. Suffering, whether we like it or not, crosses our path and is a valuable means of drawing closer to God. A special power is hidden in suffering, a special grace that brings us closer to Christ. With the gift of his body, Christ gave suffering saving worth. Sister Alphonsa experienced severe suffering and many people are attracted to her just because of the value she gave suffering. Suffering brings benefits to humanity. "

Sr Alphonsa was canonized Oct. 12, 2008 by Benedict XVI.

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