St Euphrasia Eluvathingal
The daughter of Anthony and Kunjethy of Eluvathingal Cherpukaran, Rose Eluvathingal was born on 17 October 1877 in the village of Kattoor, in the Diocese of Trichur, India. On the 8th day, she was baptised in the Edathuruthy church. Her mother’s deep devoutness to the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, had a strong influence on her from her childhood. During her early years she began to isolate herself from earthly possessions and pleasures and took a great interest in spiritual matters.
This got deeply rooted in her at the age of 9 due to an apparition of the Blessed Mother, after which the young girl offered herself totally to the Lord. She joined the convent of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel at Koonammavu, the first indigenous Congregation for women in the Syro-Malabar Church. She had a special talent in needlework and drawing and her handwriting was beautiful.
On 10 May 1897 she became a postulant and took the name Sr Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and on 10 January 1898 she received the Holy Habit of Carmel. She practised the virtues of humility, charity and renunciation and grew steadily in holiness with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For the periods of grave illness and the trails of the powers of darkness that she endured, she was rewarded with intense spiritual joys. On 24 May 1900 St Mary’s Convent was founded in the present Archdiocese of Trichur, and on the same day Sr Euphrasia made her perpetual vows to God, a day of unspeakable joy, and from that day she belonged for ever to her Heavenly Spouse.
From 1904 to 1913 Sr Euphrasia was entrusted with the duty of Novice Mistress. Sustained by thegifts and power of Holy Spirit, she formed the future members of her Congregation. She was then chosen as Superior of the Convent of St Mary at Ollur. After an internal inspiration she acquired a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, placed it in the centre of the convent and entrusted the duty of Mother Superior to his Sacred Heart. She held the post from 1913 to 1916. Even today with a graceful look and an open heart that statue is there.
She was an example to her daughters in prayer, zeal, keeping the rules, silent suffering and hard labour. She desired that no one should be slack in virtue. Mother was thoughtful of the needs and weariness of the sisters. Often God used to grant her desire through the help of generous people.
For almost 48 years the convent of St Mary was home to Mother Euphrasia. Prayer was her life breath wherever she was and the local people called her “The Praying Mother”. Her Sisters in the community referred to her as the “The Mobile Tabernacle”, because the divine presence she kept within her radiated to everyone she encountered. From her profound union with the Lord Jesus came her capacity to give herself to others. She adhered fully to the motto of her Congregation: “Remain united to me in contemplation and consecrated to me in action” (Jn 15:5).
Thus, with a pure heart Mother Euphrasia gave her maternal love and tenderness to those who sought her help. She gave them the comforting words of Jesus’ Gospel and interceded for them. For each little kindness bestowed upon her she would reply, “I will not forget it, not even after death”. Mother Euphrasia offered her life in sacrifice for the love of God. She submitted herself to His will and finally joined Him in the heavenly embrace at her holy death on 29 August 1952. After Mother Euphrasia’s death many of those who had obtained her help during her lifetime continued to beseech her help at her tomb. In 1990 her tomb was opened, and her mortal remains were moved to the convent chapel.
Pope John Paul II approved the Decree of the heroic virtues of the Servant of God in 2002, proclaiming her ‘Venerable’. On Sunday, 3 December 2006, she became the fifth Blessed of Kerala (India) and the sixth in the whole of India. She was canonized as a Saint by Pope Francis on 23 November 2014 in Vatican City.