Alphonsa was born on 19 August 1910 at Arpookara near Kottayam, Kerala. Nicknamed as Annakkutty (little Anna), her mother died when she was young, so her maternal aunt raised her. Anna joined the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, a religious congregation of the Third Order of St. Francis and later she arrived at the Clarist Convent at Bharananganam, Kottayam on Pentecost Sunday 1927. In December 1936, her health deteriorated and she was cured from her ailments through the intervention of the Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara (who was beatified at the same ceremony as she).
On 14 June 1939 she was struck by a severe attack of pneumonia, which left her weakened. But later too she suffered various physical infirmities which she took it as a gift from God and it is this attitude of this Clarist nun that inspired former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam to write the English poem “Alphonsa”. She died on 28 July 1946, at the age of 35 years. She was buried at Bharananganam, in the Diocese of Palai. School children were the first ones to pray at her tomb but later the devotion spread to others and Bharananganam became one of the most crowded pilgrimage centres of India. Alphonsa was beatified on 8 February 1986 at Kottayam Nehru Stadium by Pope John Paul II and she was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican, on 12 October 2008. India issued a coin and postal stamp in honour of this first woman Catholic saint of India
We can all understand the argument the disciples had. We spend much of our lives seeking status, protecting our status, or mourning the loss of status.