Welcome to Franciscan Clarist Congregation


Sr. Alphonsa, (Annakutty) was born on 19th August 1910, as the fourth child of Joseph and Mary in the famous Muttathupadathu family in Kudamalur near Kottayam in Kerala. Following the untimely death of her mother, she was looked after by her Peramma (maternal aunt), Annamma Murickan in Muttuchira who fostered Annakutty with strict discipline so that no one should ever blame her for anything. She wanted to give Annakutty to a handsome and rich young man in marriage, but Annakutty wished to become Jesus’ own by being a nun.The virgin even dared to undergo fire testing in a burning pit, thinking that her family would not force her to marry if she lost her beauty. Despite further opposition, she remained steadfast in her determination and arrived at Bharananganam convent with her father on the day of Pentecost in 1927. Mother Mary Ursula,the Superior of Bharananganam convent welcomed Annakutty warmly into the convent as a candidate. On 2nd August 1928 she received the religious veil and took the name Alphonsa. Mar James Kalassery gave her religious habit on 19th May 1930 in St.Mary’s Forane Church Bharananganam. She went to Changanassery for further studies and was afflicted with severe bleeding within a few months. When she was cured, she started her career as a temporary teacher at Vakakad School in 1932. She was loved by her students and co-workers. But getting sick again, she returned to Bharananganam after a year of teaching. She gladly accepted the suffering of her beloved Jesus.

Sr. Alphonsa entered the novitiate at Changanassery in 1935 but due to her illness, the authorities decided to send her back from the novitiate. ‘If she dies, let her die here’, by these words Bishop Mar James Kalassery allowed her to remain in the novitiate. Fr. Chavara Kuriakose Elias cured her in a vision, but he also warned her of the impending grave illness. After completing novitiate on 16th August 1936, Alphonsa took her vows dedicating completely to her beloved and returned to the convent at Bharananganam and made her loving presence available by doing good to all. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). This was the scriptural motto that led Sr. Alphonsa. She suffered from various ailments, but offered her sufferings along with the sufferings of the Lord. She was willing to bear the sufferings of others as well. As she had often said, her soul flew calmly and quietly to her Heavenly Father like a light bird, following an agonizing seizure on 28th July 1946.

The children were the first to recognize the fragrance of her virtuous life. Through her intercession, many children passed their examinations. Knowing this, lots of people from various places reached her tomb seeking the intercession of Sr. Alphonsa. Miracles and healings had made Bharananganam the ‘Lisieux of India’. When the church authorities realized that many miracles were happening by the intercession of Sr. Alphonsa, the beatification process was initiated in 1953. On 13th April 1957, under the governance of Mar Sebastian Vayalil, the Bishop of Pala and Mother Mary Ursula the tribunal members exhumed the body of Sr. Alphonsa, examined the mortal remains, and preserved it in a specially prepared casket and re-interred it in the same tomb at Bharananganam cemetery chapel itself. Sr. Alphonsa was declared venerable in 1984.

As part of the beatification process, the tomb was reopened on 13th May 1985 under the supervision of Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil, Bishop of Pala and Mother Romuald, the Superior General and the mortal remains were re-interred on 11th September 1985 after the renovation of the tomb. Sr. Alphonsa was declared Blessed on 8th February 1986 by Pope John Paul II in Kerala along with Fr. Chavara Kuriakose Elias1. On 12th October 2008 Sr. Alphonsa was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.

More than 200 F.C.C. sisters attended a three-day celebration in Rome, as part of the Canonization ceremony of St. Alphonsa, under the leadership of Mother Ceelia, the Superior General. Jinil, whose miraculous cure of the congenital deformity of the foot through the intercession of Blessed Alphonsa was accepted by Rome for the canonization, and his parents from the diocese of Pala, were present to witness these sacred moments.

During the magnificent celebrations organized on 8th and 9th November 2008 at Bharananganam, there were the vestition and first profession of 98 novices from India and the final profession of 3 sisters from Kenya. A solemn public meeting was held on 9th November in the presence of many Bishops, priests and millions of the faithful at Bharananganam. This assembly was presided over by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and inaugurated by Mr. A P J Abdul Kalam the Former President of India who was recognized as the Missile man3. A three-day celebration was held in Portiuncula from11th to 13th November 2008. A beautiful souvenir was released in Portiuncula on 11th November 2008 summarizing the celebrations conducted in connection with the Canonization of St. Alphonsa held in Rome, Bharananganam and Portiuncula. Before the canonization of Alphonsa the emblem of the congregation was renewed in the General Plenary Council in January 2008 and has been in use since 12th October 2008. (See Appendix for details)

In connection with the canonization of St. Alphonsa, a docufiction titled Krupayude Padavukal, integrating the early history of F.C.C. and the history of St. Alphonsa was produced in collaboration with Mr. Benny Punnathara, Director, Shalom Trust. The documentary was directed by Mr. Siby Yogyaveedan, the Chief Producer of programmes of Shalom Trust. The interviews with her childhood friend Lakshmikuttyamma, Mary Chechi (A respectful term to address an elderly lady), the maid servant to assist Sr. Alphonsa and Mr. P.C. Abraham Pallattukunnel (Pala) commonly known as Mission League Kunjettan (A respectful title) who were the contemporaries of St. Alphonsa made this more historic and authentic. This Tele-film bagged the second best ‘Tele-film Award’ from Kerala Film Academy in 2008. Bishop Mar Joseph Pallickaparambil released the Tele-film by presenting the first copy of the CD to Mission League Kunjettan on 19th July 2009 at Bharananganam 4.

In the silver jubilee year of the death of St. Alphonsa (1996) and in connection with her Canonization (2008) Indian Postal Department has released Indian Postal stamps on 16th July 1996 and 16th November 2008 respectively imprinting St. Alphonsa’s image on it. She is the first Kerala woman in whose name the Indian stamp is released5. Postmaster General Mr. P. Gopinath released the stamp, giving a stamp album to the Supreme Court Judge (Government of India) Mr. Cyriac Joseph on the closing day of Syro –Malabar Convention, held in Delhi from 15th to 16th November 2008. Delhi Chief Minister Mrs. Sheela Dixit and several bishops witnessed the ceremony. His Excellency Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, Union Finance Minister released 5 rupees circulation coin and commemorative coins of Rs.100, on which St. Alphonsa’s figure was inscribed, at Bharananganam on 23rd August 2009.