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Sainthood for Kerala nun in 2008
Sister Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception will be the second Indian to become a Christian saint when the process is completed in 2008.

The chapel in Bharanganam, 33 kilometers from Kottayam is dedicated to the nun who is a legend here for the past 60 years.

Born as Anna Muttathupadathu at Kudumaloor near Kottayam in 1910 she took the name Alphonsa as a young nun on entering the convent of the Franciscan Clarist congregation.

She is expected to be declared a saint by the Vatican.

''We are very happy that Blessed Alphonsa is going to be canonized. Whenever we take our exams, we seek her blessings,'' says student Donna.

Lizzie, another student said, whenever my sister falls ill, I pray to [Alphonsa].

The cannonisation, as the process to sainthood is called, follows the signing of a decree by Pope Benedict accepting a miracle attributed to her.

Sister Alphonsa is credited with curing a handicapped boy, enabling him to walk again.

In the 50s it was children who first began recounting how their prayers to the nun were being answered. As schools re-open after a vacation, children at the chapel pray to her before the start of their new academic year.

Father Francis Vadakel, among the few people who knew her, recounts how she went through a lot of suffering due to various ailments before dying at the young age of 36.

''There was a grace on her face. Whatever problems she faced, her face always had a smile,'' Father Vadakel, vice-postulator with the Cause of Blessed Alphonsa said.

When Blessed Alphonsa is canonized by the Vatican, it will mean a lot more than just being the first Indian to be canonized in the last one hundred and fifty years. It will be a reinforcement of people's faith.

The Vatican has cleared the canonisation process of Sister Alphonsa.

Pope Benedict XVI has approved the canonization on June 1 and Sister Alphonsa would be India's first Catholic saint.

"Our hearts are filled with joy as one of a member of our congregation is being elevated to sainthood," said Sister Gorethi, a nun from the order of Poor Clares.

Though no date have been mentioned, it is expected the Blessed Alphonsa would become Saint Alphonsa in 2008.