DECEMBER 15, 2015
Error in Saint Alphonsa canonization Commemorative Stamp
Saint Alphonsa is the patron saint of this ministry
Alphonsa, (August 19, 1910 – July 28, 1946) was a Syro-Malabar Catholic Franciscan nun who is now honoured as a saint. Sister Alphonsa became the first native Indian to be canonized in 2008. She is the first woman of Indian origin to be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church, the second saint to be canonized in India and the first canonised saint of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church of the Saint Thomas Christian community.
Born as Anna Muttathupadathu in a Syro-Malabar Nasrani family to Cherian Ousep and Mary Muttathupadathu in Kudamalloor, near Kottayam, on 19 August 1910. She was baptised on 26 August. Alphonsamma, as she was locally known, was born in Arpookara, a village in the princely state of Travancore within Kerala, India. This lies within the Archdiocese of Changanassery.
Hagiographies describe her early life as one of suffering at the hands of her stern foster mother and the teasing of schoolchildren.
Anna was from a rich family and because of that she got a lot of marriage proposals from reputed families. Her foster mother wanted her to become a perfect housewife in a rich household. However, Anna sacrificed all this material fortune and wanted to dedicate her life to Jesus Christ. In 1923, Anna’s feet were burnt when she fell into a pit of burning chaff; local hagiographies describe this as a self-inflicted injury in order to avoid her foster mother’s attempt to arrange a marriage for her and thereby to fulfill her desire for becoming a Religious Sister instead. This accident left her permanently disabled.
She died on 28 July 1946. She is buried at St. Mary’s Syro-Malabar Malayalam Catholic Church, Bharananganam, Travancore, in the Diocese of Palai.
Claims of her miraculous intervention began almost immediately upon her death and often involved the children of the convent school where she used to teach. On 2 December 1953, Cardinal Tisserant inaugurated the diocesan process for her beatification and Alphonsa was declared a Servant of God.
In 1985, Pope John Paul II formally approved a miracle attributed to her intercession and on 9 July she became “Venerable Sr. Alphonsa”.
Venerable Sister Alphonsa was beatified along with Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara OCD at Kottayam, on 8 February 1986 by Pope John Paul II during his Apostolic Pilgrimage to India
A postal stamp on Saint Alphonsa, India’s first woman saint, was released at a convention of the Syro Malabar Church on November 16, 2008 in New Delhi.
Chief Post Master General (Delhi) P.K. Gopinath released the Rs.15 stamp and handed it over to Supreme Court Judge Cyriac Joseph, a church official said.
Bishops of different diocese in Kerala and Delhi, led by Thrissur Archbishop Andrews Thazhathu, attended the ceremony.
1 million stamps in sheets of 40 and 0.5 million miniature sheets (picture below) were released.
There was a major printing error on the stamp as well as on the miniature sheet.
“Canonization” has been misspelled as “canonnization”.
The stamp as well as the miniature sheet are now collectors’ items and will probably fetch a goodly price.
I presently have a dozen or so miniature sheets in my possession.
The error was discovered by me only today.
Intending to inform the Chief Post Master General) about this, I began to write a letter, but quickly discovered that the Church was already aware of the problem. The only information that could find on the Internet is reproduced below.
Scholars upset over canonisation gaffe (see following page)
By Kumar Chellappan, Chennai, December 28, 2008
Christian scholars are upset that Saint Alphonsa, who was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2008, has been “cannonized” by the Indian government in her commemorative stamp released recently.
India Post has printed on the stamp saying is is for St. Aphonsa’s “cannonization”. [Text unclear]
“India Post Has disgraced her memory,” Joseph Pulikunnel, director, Indian Institute of Christian Studies, Pala, told this newspaper, claiming that the entire laity was upset “over this sad development, this unspeakable mistake of India Post trivializing the [unclear]”.
Dr. Paul Thelekatt, official spokesperson of the country’s Catholic Church demanded that all the flawed stamps should be recalled and fresh ones printed after corrections. “It would have been better had they not issued this kind of commemorative stamps. Even if you do not respect a person, [unclear],” said Dr. Thelekatt.
Stamp released July 9, 1996 in Re. 1 denomination on her 50th death anniversary