Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is a Gold-Mine of Potential Saints

Bl. Mariam Thresia Chiramel
When Roman Catholics think of Eastern Catholics, I think it not too far off to say that most conjure up images of the Byzantine Catholic Churches.  But as we know, there are many other Eastern Catholics out there, and one that particular group I have found to be most fascinating is the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

The saints of the Maronites have indeed stuck out rather prominently in my investigations into the world of Eastern Catholicism especially, but I cannot help but marvel at the massive amount of blesseds, venerables, and servants of God that are found within the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

Most famous of these is St. Alphonsa Muttathupadathu, a Franciscan nun of the Syro-Malabar Church whose life of intense suffering and self-denial is quite something to read.  The miracles attributed to her intercession seem to be without number. 

Bl. Kuriakose Elias Chavara
But no less inspiring here are the blesseds, who seem so much less known.  Many of the blesseds of the Syro-Malabar Church spent much of their time amongst the Dalits of India, considered within the Hindu caste system to be the lowest of the low.  When no one would descend to be among these so-called "untouchables", great men and women such as Bl. Kunjachan and Bl. Mariam Thresia Chiramel both spent their lives in ministering amongst them, helping the sick and giving aid to the poor.  Bl. Kuriakose Elkias Chavara was a huge force behind the education of the people, and also fought to maintain ecclesial unity against the threat of Nestorians in the region.  The life of Bl. Euphrasia, a nun in the order of Carmelites founded by Bl. Kuriakose, was one of self-immolation in a life of deep prayer, mortification, and abandonment to the will of God; "her Sisters in community referred to her as the 'Mobile Tabernacle', because the divine presence she kept within her radiated to all she encountered."1

Servant of God Thomas Poothathil
Behind the chief saint and the blesseds of the Syro-Malabar Catholics come two venerables and eleven (!) servants of God - among them, Ven. Mar Thomas Kurialacherry and Servant of God Thomas Poothathill.  All of them are on their way to sainthood.

For me, the study of these saints and other holy men and women of the second largest Eastern Catholic communion is a fascinating one.  To be sure, all of these saintly figures are exemplars of the life of virtue and holiness, especially in a region so wrought with poverty, corruption, and violence.  To study the lives of these gems of the Eastern Catholic world is to be highly recommended.

1 - Vatican.va, "Bl. Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus", found here.

2 comments:

  1. I suppose the Major Archbishop could declare them saints for veneration in the Syro-Malabar Church and then the Holy Father could extend their cults to the universal church. That would speed up the process!

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  2. Many do not know about the existence of the Syro Malabar Church and the Syro Malankara Church which are in full communion with thethe Universal Church following two different rites. The liturgy is in malayalam as these Churches originated from Kerala where malayalam is the language. The faithful in these rites are all over the world . In America seperate diocese is established with bishop.TheChurch in Kerala was founded by St.Thomas the Postle in 52 A.D.

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