St. Mariam Thresia of Puthenchira, from her childhood, had three companions; they went to church together, collected flowers and decorated the church. These teens visited the sick at home, cleansed, bathed and washed their cloths. The three begged for food and medicine from other families and cared the people of their hometown Puthenchira, in the leadership of young Thresia.
Mariam Thresia, gifted with the knowledge of hearts looked into the spiritual welfare of persons beyond their temporal or physical needs. She could recognize at sight, those who were slaves of sin and urged them lovingly to abandon their sinful ways. Her History contains several instances of conversion of sinners effected through the prayer and penance of Mother Mariam Thresia. In fact it was often at the cost of severe penances and sacrifices that she obtained such conversions.
She knelt before the Blessed Sacrament pleading for mercy when people thronged to make their confession on First Fridays. She would pray for them in order that they might make a good confession. Mariam Thresia once wrote to her spiritual father,“It would be very useful if you preached a sermon on the evils of men. The Lord says so”. In recognizing the spiritual needs of people, especially of those who led sinful lives, Mariam Thresia gave wise counsels and guided those who sought her advice.
For even as a young lay woman, she was living the life of a religious. Once she was on way to her mother’s house, walking along road to Chalakudy, by herself. A man came down from a roadside house came up to her asking to visit a person who was bedridden in his house suffering from a deadly tumor; the patient was on the point of death and had received the last sacraments. She began to excuse herself, then the patient’s mother came running and crying, ‘I have only one daughter and she is going to die. Please come and pray for her. She yielded to their insistence and visited the sick girl. Together with the family, she recited a full rosary followed by the litany of all saints. She begged God to cure the sick girl. Suddenly the intense pain relented and the sickness was gradually healed.
On another instance, a little girl Thresia, while just able to sit up and play, she had tumbled down and hurt herself. Since then the child could not open her mouth.The girl at the age of twenty still could not receive the Holy Communion. Mariam Thresia felt pity for the girl and prayed to God to give her any pain or suffering for the girls’ sake. At midnight her own body was wholly paralyzed in the left side needing 3 people to assist her. On the fourteenth day as a result of such prayer and sacrifice and by the special grace of God, the girl Thresia was able to receive Holy Communion at the age of twenty two.
In her girlhood, Mariam Thresia moved with her compassionate activities, often she was thrashed with humiliations, disapproval and censures. She entered families of rich and low alike to offer care for the suffering and dying, she tended the destitute, assisted the uncared elderly and orphans, she nursed those affected by contagious diseases like small pox. She toiled to kindle the light of knowledge for girl children, and to impart God to the people of her society. The severe traditional cast system was a stigma of late eighteen and early nineteen century Kerala especially on women. She had to face severe criticism for crossing the boundaries set for women in the male chauvinistic society. Though rumors went in flames but no one dared to stop her in her active ministries.
she began her ministry as a teen was not sorry about the misfortunes befell on her. The unjust social order only enlightened her to strike the right balance. Thus she nurtured a culture of fraternal union in her own hometown also toppled down superstitious believes of the time that separated the people. Above all she directed a new way of living in God. Her spiritual outlook was very rich and unique.
Sr. Udaya Kallukaran Chf