Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 4 (IANS) Catholics in Kerala celebrated on Sunday as Mother Teresa was elevated as a Saint of the Catholic Church.
Currently Catholics here have three native saints Kuriakose Elias Chavara, popularly known as Chavara Achen, and Sister Euphrasia, popularly known as Evuprasiamma (both canonised in 2014) while Sister Alphonsa in 2008 became the first native Indian to be canonised.
Even though not an Indian by birth but citizenship, Mother Teresa was hugely popular in Kerala and on a few occasions, she had visited the state as part of the work of Missionaries of Charity, which she had set up.
The biggest activity was seen at the St Joseph’s Church at Thellakom that opened the relics of Mother Teresa that included strands of her hair, a sponge used by her for wiping her face and dress, to those who came for the special mass.
This was the first church in the country to get the relics of Mother Teresa and since then it has been in a museum here.
Parish vicar Antony Kattoopara was excited as hundreds of believers had turned up for the special mass and later they all assembled in the auditorium of the church and witnessed the live telecast from Vatican.
After the ceremony, 1,001 balloons were released into the air by the believers.
Former Kerala Chief Secretary Jiji Thompson, who was also present on the occasion, recalled his meeting with the Mother on two occasions.
“The first was in 1974, when I, as a student leader, met her at her organisation in the capital city. I gave her a bouquet and she immediately bowed and accepted it and said to me to keep smiling always and God bless you. The second occasion was years later when on a flight from Delhi to Calcutta. There was instant clapping of hands when the cabin crew made the announcement that she was on the flight.
“Later when the food was served, she told us that if anyone does not need food, please hand it over and soon everyone got up and offered their food packet to her, such was the love and admiration that people had for her,” he recalled.
A public meeting was held and a souvenir was also released at the Mother Teresa Church in the heart of the state capital.
The church is also a children’s home set up by Mother Teresa.
In several other Catholic churches here, there was a special mentioning of Mother Teresa during the morning mass.
There are three churches — Syro Malabar Church, Latin Rite dioceses and Syro Malankara Catholic Church — in the state that owe allegiance to the Vatican.
Besides the two Cardinals from Kerala, two state ministers Thomas Issac and Mathew T. Thomas, and several Catholic priests and the laity were present at the canonisation programme.