Saint Euphrasia Eluvathingal
1877 - 1962
Memorial: August 29
Marth Euphrasia Eluvathingal was born as Rosa Eluvathingal on 7 October 1877 in a Syro-Malabar Catholic Nasrani family in the village of Kattoor, near the city of Thrissur in Kerala, India. Rosa was the eldest child of wealthy landowners, Cherpukaran Antony and Kunjethy Eluvathingal. She was baptized on 25 October 1877 in the Mother of Carmel Church in Edathuruthy. Her mother was a devout Syrian Catholic, who taught her to pray the rosary and to participate in the Mass. At the age of nine, Rose is said to have experienced an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which led her to make a commitment never to marry, and to commit her entire life to God.
She was born Rosa Eluvathingal on 17 October 1877 in a Syro-Malabar Catholic Nasrani family in Kattoor, Thrissur in Kerala. Rosa was the eldest child of wealthy landowner Cherpukaran Antony and his wife Kunjethy. She was baptised on 25 October 1877 in Mother of Carmel Church in Edathuruthy. Her mother was a devout Syrian Catholic, who taught her how to pray the rosary and to participate in the Qurbana. At the age of nine, Rosa is said to have experienced an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which led her to make a commitment never to marry, and to commit her entire life to God. When she was ten, she entered the boarding school attached to the first indigenous Carmelite community in the Syro-Malabar Church, founded by Saints Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Leopold Beccaro in 1866 at Koonammavu in Ernakulam District.
As she grew older, Rosa wanted to enter the Sisters of the Mother of Carmel, who follow the Rule of the Third Order of the Discalced Carmelites. Her father opposed this, as he wanted to arrange a marriage for her with the son of another prosperous family in the region. Seeing her resolve, her father eventually relented and accompanied her to the convent.
In 1897, Mar John Menachery, the first native Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Archeparchy of Thrissur, established a Carmelite Convent in Ambazakad (now belonging to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Irinjalakuda). On 9 May, he brought all five inmates from Koonammavu who belonged to his diocese. The next day Rosa was received as a postulant, taking the name Sister Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and was admitted to the novitiate of the congregation on 10 January 1898. Her constant poor health, however, threatened her stay in the convent, as the superiors considered dismissing her.
Euphrasia is said to have had a vision of the Holy Family, at which point the illness she had long felt ceased. Euphrasia made her solemn profession on 24 May 1900, during the blessing of the newly founded St. Mary's Convent, Ollur or Chinna Roma. After she took her perpetual vows, she was appointed assistant to the Novice Mistress. Though frail in health, in 1904 Euphrasia was appointed Novice Mistress of the congregation. She held this position for nine years until 1913, when she was made Mother Superior of the convent, where she was to live the rest of her life, serving as Mother Superior until 1916.
She endeavoured to lead a life of constant prayer and of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, becoming known to many people as the Praying Mother. Euphrasia spent much of her day in the convent chapel before the Blessed Sacrament, to which she had a strong devotion. She also nourished a great love and devotion for the Virgin Mary. Euphrasia died on 29 August 1952 at St. Mary's Convent. Her tomb has become a pilgrimage site as miracles have been reported by some of the faithful.
The first reported miracle was curing a carpenter from bone cancer. Thomas Tharakan from Anchery in Ollur, a furniture polishing worker, was diagnosed with cancer by the Jubilee Mission Medical College and Research Institute in Thrissur. Thomas was admitted to the hospital for one week. Later before the surgery, a scan by the doctor showed no sign of tumour, despite an earlier scan report showing clear evidence of a tumour. Thomas's sister, Rosy, later claimed that cure was the result of her prayer to Euphrasia.
The second reported miracle happened to a seven-year old child named Jewel from Aloor in Thrissur District. The child had a tumour in his neck which made it difficult for him to swallow any food. Doctors at Dhanya Hospital in Potta, Thrissur District, had said that this disease was incurable. As Jewel's family came from a poor background, their only option was to pray for divine intercession. After his grandmother prayed to Euphrasia, doctors noticed that his tumour began to shrink. Dr Sasikumar of Dhanya Hospital examined him once again and found the tumour to have disappeared. Many other doctors examined the boy and stated that there was no medical basis for this event.
Stages of canonisation
Servant of God
On 27 September 1986 the process of canonisation began in Ollur. On 13 August 1987 Father Lucas Vithuvatikal was appointed as Postulator. He made the oath as Postulator in the presence of Mar Joseph Kundukulam, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Thrissur on 29 August 1987 and Euphrasia was declared a "Servant of God" on the same day.
Sister Perigrin was appointed as Vice-Postulator on 9 September 1987 and in 1988, a Diocesan Tribunal for the Cause of Euphrasia was established by Kundukulam. The Diocesan Tribunal for the apostolic miracle was established on 8 January 1989, which was officially closed by Kundukulam on 19 June 1991. On 30 January 1990 the tomb of Euphrasia was opened and her remains were transferred to a newly-built tomb inside the chapel of St. Mary's Convent. Her case was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Rome on 20 April 1994, and on 5 July 2002 Pope John Paul II declared her "Venerable".
She was beatified on 3 December 2006 in St. Anthony's Forane Church, Ollur, with the declaration of the Major Archbishop, Varkey Vithayathil, on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI. Apostolic Nuncio to India Archbishop Pedro López Quintana and Archbishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Archeparchy of Thrissur joined 30 prelates and 500 priests for the beatification events.
On 3 April 2014, Pope Francis authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decrees concerning the miracle attributed to Euphrasia's intercession. This confirmed the Pope's approval of Euphrasia's canonisation. At a special mass held at St Peter's Square at Vatican City on 23 November 2014, Pope Francis canonised Euphrasia as a saint. Mother Sancta, Mother General of Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC), carried the relics of Euphrasia to the altar.