nun of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation. She was a member of the Syro Malabar Church (in full communion with Rome) and is the first female Indian saint.
Born at Kudamaloor (Kerala), her mother died when she was only three months old and she was brought up by her aunt, who prepared her for marriage at the age of thirteen. However, Alphonsa was so determined to be a nun that she jumped into a pit of burning chaff and was confined to bed for three months with burns and other injuries. She achieved her aim of becoming a nun but was plagued with ill health, including suffering malaria and pneumonia for the rest of her short life.
She is often compared to Theresa of Lisieux: both lived lives of illness and suffering which they offered to God as sacrifice. She died at Bharananganam, now a notable pilgrimage centre, which attracts Hindus as well as Christians from many denominations. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986, and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.
T. Norton, The Tablet, 28 November 2009, pp. 51–2.