ROME (SAR NEWS) — The post-canonisation thanksgiving Eucharist for Sister Alphonsa made history with the celebration of Eucharist for the first time in Syro-Malabar rite in Christendom’s Mother Church in Rome, October 13.
The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of the Church of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.
The Mother of all Churches in Rome and the world, the basilica was founded by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, during the time of Pope Silvester (314-335). Though it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, the current basilica dates from the 17th century.
“Probably this is the very first time that a Syro-Malabar rite liturgy is celebrated here with so many Indian nuns and priests,” said Dr. Scaria Thuruthiyil, professor of Philosophy at Salesian University Rome, hailing from Sister Alphonsa’s own parish Bharananganam, Kerala.
A conservative estimate puts the number of faithful in the celebrations at St. John Lateran at 3,000, including about 500 priests and some 2,000 Sisters, along with hundreds of devotees who came from India and around the world.
Archbishop George Valiamattom of Thalassery (Kerala) presided over the Eucharist in place of Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of Ernakulam-Angamaly who is hospitalised in Rome due to heart problems.
The Redemptorist Cardinal, who is also the president of the Kerala Bishops’ Conference and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, was absent from Mass Sunday October 12, when Pope Benedict XVI canonized Sister Alphonsa.
Though his condition is stable, he has cancelled his public appearances.
The three-day celebrations in honour of the newly declared Indian saint Sister Alphonsa concluded October 13 with a thanksgiving Eucharist.