Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception

Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception

Today was the feast of a saint I’d never heard of before. I found her biography after Bella asked me about today’s saints.

St. Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception (1910-1946) is the first saint from India. Canonized in 2008, she was born in Kudamalur, the Arpookara region, in the diocese of Changanacherry, India, on the 19th of August 1910.

From her birth, the life of the Saint was marked by the cross, which would be progressively revealed to her as the royal way to conform herself to Christ. Her mother, Maria Puthukari, gave birth to her prematurely, in her eight month of pregnancy, as a result of a fright she received when, during the sleep, a snake wrapped itself around her waist. Eight days later, the 28 of August, the child was baptised according to the Syro-Malabar rite by the Fr. Joseph Chackalayil, and she received the name Annakutty, a diminutive of Anne. She was the last of five children.

“I made my perpetual profession on the 12th of August 1936 and came here to Bharanganam on the following 14th. From that time, it seems, I was entrusted with a part of the cross of Christ. There are abundant occasions of suffering… I have a great desire to suffer with joy. It seems that my Spouse wishes to fulfil this desire”.

In every situation, Sister Alphonsa always maintained a great reservation and charitable attitude towards the Sisters, silently undergoing her sufferings. In 1945 she had a violent outbreak of illness. A tumour, which had spread throughout her organs, transformed her final year of life into a continuous agony. Gastroenteritis and liver problems caused violent convulsions and vomiting up to forty times a day: “I feel that the Lord has destined me to be an oblation, a sacrifice of suffering… I consider a day in which I have not suffered as a day lost to me”.

With this attitude of a victim for the love of the Lord, happy until the final moment and with a smile of innocence always on her lips, Sister Alphonsa quietly and joyfully brought her earthly journey to a close in the convent of the Franciscan Clarists at Bharananganam at 12.30 on the 28th July 1946, leaving behind the memory of a Sister full of love and a saint.”


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  • Oh yes! I’m with Phyllis in lamenting the vanished “hired girl.” I don’t want someone to cook, really. But to clean the bathroom, vacuum, mop, wash windows…. Or a mother’s helper to whisk the kids to the park between 3 and 5 every day…. I could use some help for sure.

  • +JMJ+

    Whatever did happen to mother’s helpers?

    Last year, I watched reruns of the first season of the 80s sitcom “Charles in Charge” and marveled at the excellent arrangement which the Pembroke family and “hired boy” Charles had reached. He got room and board as well as a modest salary, and a very flexible schedule; and the parents could be sure that there would always be an adult at home with their children. (The kids really liked Charles, too!)

    It seems to me that a lot of university students would love to have a gig like this. The question is whether parents who’d also jump at the chance would still be able to afford it. (Of course, I’m assuming that the show’s premise was grounded in sound economics, which it may not have been, even in the prosperous early 80s!)

  • I do know people living in university towns often can make that kind of arrangement with college students. Sometimes not so much the salary as an exchange room and board for a few hours of babysitting and some chores.

    Of course that assumes you have enough room in your house so as to have a spare room for a college kid.

    We did actually have my sister living with us till last summer. But she was sick too often to really be reliable and she did have an outside job. And now we really need the room for kids. Our house is pretty small.

  • Oh, I LOVE this book! I had all my sisters read it years ago. I need to reread it, it’s so fun but Spot on.

    I do wish I had some “help” like was normal back then, don’t you?

  • Someone in a local homeschooling group list i’m on was looking for a home for an Italian exchange student. If we had the room, I’d seriously consider it.

  • It was a bit like that for the three months we had a Colombian exchange student. We only had Nat and Thomas then, and they adored him and would play with him and sit on him, and I would make dinner. Like having help that paid us for the privilege of living with us.

    I miss it.