India’s government announced on Saturday that it would issue a commemorative coin celebrating Sister Alphonsa. Pope Benedict XVI conferred Sainthood on her Sunday, making her the first native-born saint from India
"This exceptional woman, who today is offered to the people of India as their first canonized saint, was convinced that her cross was the very means of reaching the heavenly banquet prepared for her by the Father," said Pope Benedict XVI.
"She wrote, ‘I consider a day without suffering as a day lost.’ May we imitate her in shouldering our own crosses so as to join her one day in paradise," he added.
St. Alphonsa Muttathupandathu was a nun from a remote village in Kerala (Southwestern India) who was known for her holiness during a lifetime of extreme physical suffering. She was born on August 19, 1910, and passed away 62 years ago.
At a young age, St. Alphonsa was determined to become a nun after reading the lives of the saints. At age 14, she deliberately burned her foot so that her disfigurement would prevent an arranged marriage. At age 17, St. Alphonsa joined the Franciscan Clarist Congregation.
According the the Catholic News Service, she taught for a time, but was soon confined to her convent because of a succession of illnesses, including typhoid fever, pneumonia, skin infections and a wasting disease. At the same time, her life was marked by periods of great spiritual joy.
Very few details were made available in Indian Finance Minister Shri P. Chidambaram’s announcement Saturday about the commemorative coin, other than it will be released to mark the centenary of St. Alphonsa’s birth on August 19, 2009.