Mariam Thresia-India’s next saint

Pope Francis will raise 5 new saints of the Catholic Church to the glory of the altar during a solemn Eucharistic Celebration in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, October 13. 

Among them is an Indian – Sr. Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, the foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family (CHF).

The others are English Cardinal John Henry Newman, Swiss laywoman Marguerite Bays, Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes and Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini.

A religious and mystic, Sister Mariam Theresia was born in Puthenchira, in southern India’s Kerala state, on April 26, 1876.

Belonging to a once rich and noble family with extensive landed property, the future pioneer of the family apostolate grew up in piety and holiness under the loving guidance of her saintly mother, Thanda. 

In her intense love for God, the 8-year old girl gave herself up to austere, penance, fasting and prayer. She wanted to be conformed ever more to the likeness of the suffering Christ to whom she also consecrated her virginity at an early age.

She helped the poor, nursed the sick: In imitation of Jesus, she helped the poor, nursed the sick, visited and comforted the lonely people of her parish.

She was also blessed with the stigmata but kept it secret to avoid attention. She received several mystical gifts like prophecy, healing, an aura of light, sweet odour and frequently had ecstasies and levitations. Her entire existence was tormented by demons and she offered her sufferings for the remission of the sins of the world.

Thresia and three companions who joined her led a life of prayer and austere penance and continued to help families, visiting the sick, the poor and the needy irrespective of religion or caste. This ministry led her to establish the new Congregation of the Holy Family on 14 May 1914.

Sister Thresia died on June 8, 1926, at the age of 50, and was declared Blessed by Pope Saint John Paul II on April 9, 2000.

Pope Francis on February 12 authorized a decree recognizing a miracle through her intercession, which cleared her for sainthood, and on July 1, the Pope decided on October 13 as the canonization day.