Memorial of St Euphrasia Eluvathingal
The daughter of Anthony and Kunjethy, Rose Eluvathingal was born on 17 October 1877 in the village of Kattoor, in the Diocese of Trichur, India. Her mother’s deep piety and great devotion to the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, had a strong influence on little Rose from her childhood.
From the stories that her mother told her, especially about St Rose of Lima, she grew with a strong desire to practice the virtues, to suffer for Jesus and to be holy, and to do all this in a quiet, hidden manner.
During her developing years Rose began to detach herself from earthly possessions and pleasure and took a great interest in spiritual matters. This was all the more rooted in her at the age of 9 by means of an apparition of the Blessed Mother, after which the young girl offered herself totally to the Lord.
Notwithstanding the strong opposition of her father, who wanted Rose to marry into a rich family, she wanted to become a religious Sister. Her intense prayer life, which included the rosary, fasting and abstinence, as well as the rather sudden death of her younger sister, brought about a change of heart in her father, Anthony, who granted Rose permission to enter the convent. In fact, her father accompanied her personally to the convent of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel , the first indigenous congregation of Syro-Malabar Church.
But even with her desire to be a Religious, Rose was often afflicted with various illnesses which caused her intense suffering. Once, during a particularly painful attack, the sisters were resolved to send her away forever, but through an apparition of the Holy Family she received a miraculous healing that permitted her to continue following God’s call.
On 10 May 1897 Rose 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 in holiness with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For the periods of grave illness and the trials of the powers of darkness that she endured, she was rewarded by intense spiritual joys.
On 24 May 1900 St Mary’s Convent was founded in the current Archdiocese of Trichur, and on the same day Sr Euphrasia made her perpetual vows to God, a day of unspeakable joy, since now she belonged for ever to her Heavenly Spouse. From 1904 to 1913 Sr Euphrasia was entrusted with the duty of novice mistress and, sustained by the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit, she formed the future members of her Congregation. In their Mother Mistress the novices saw the heroic virtues of humility, poverty, penance, obedience and abandonment to God’s will.