Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara died in 1871. However, it was only in 1936 that a general meeting of the CMI congregation first discussed ways of initiating the procedure for canonization. In fact, the constitution of the Syro-Malabar hierarchy was completed only in 1926. It was after that the idea of beginning the process of canonization gained momentum. A sufficiently large and documented biography of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara , written by Rev.Fr Valerian Plathottam was published in 1939.
It was reported that miraculour favours had been received through him by people who sought his intercession. Blessed Alphonsa has herself testified in 1936 that Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara had appeared to her twice during her illness and relieved her suffering. After due enquiries had been made, in 1953 a petition was sent to Rome requesting the Holy See to initiate the procedure for canonization. In 1955, Mar Mathew Kavukattu, Arch Bishop of Changanacherry, received instructions from Rome to start diocese-level procedure.
As a first step, Mar Mathew Kavukattu issued a pastoral letter suggesting that anyone possessing documents relating to Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara should hand them over to the bishop and that prayers be said for the success of the procedures. Afterwards, in 1957, the bishop set up a commission for historical studies. In 1962, two courts were also constituted. The first of these was to scrutinize Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara’s writings and other records; the other was to go into the question whether he had led a life of heroic virtues. A third court set up in 1969 enquired whether unauthoized public veneration had been given to Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara.
In 1970, Mar Antony Padiyara, the then archbishop of Changanacherry formally concluded the proceedings of all the courts, and submitted the documents to the Sacred Congregation for Rites in Rome. A thirteen-member committee appointed by the Congregation in 1978, gave its approval for the proceedings for canonization. Meanwhile, a committee of theologians declared that Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara had practiced heroic virtues. On March 15, 1980 the cause of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara’s canonization was recommended to the Holy See. The Sacred Congregation for the canonization process examined his practice of virtues.
On March 15, 1980 the cause of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara’s canonization was recommended to the Holy See. The Sacred Congregation for the canonization process examined his practice of virtues. To begin with, on November 23, 1983 the matter was taken up at a meeting of bishops and consultant-priests. Subsequently, on March 27, 1984 a meeting of cardinals held further studies of the case. They were satisfied that there was clear evidence in his life of the practice of theological and moral virtues as well as virtues related to these. A detailed report of all these findings was submitted to the Pope John Paul II.
Finally, the Pope set his seal to the document of the Sacred Congregation acknowledging Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara’s practice of heroic virtues and declared officially the same on April 7, 1984. With that the Servant of God was elevated to the position of “Venerable”. (The person to be canonized comes to be known as ‘Servant of God’ as soon as procedures start at diocese-level.)
A cure that was claimed to have been effected through the intercession of Venerable Chavara was judged miraculous by a team of expert doctors. The finding was accepted by the Sacred Congregation. This entitled Venerable Chavara to be elevated to the position of “Blessed”. Thus on Saturday, 8th February, 1986 at Nagampadam grounds, Kottayam, Kerala, Pope John Paul II elevated Venerable Servants of God Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Alphonsa Muttathupadathu to the position of “BLESSED”.
He was declared Saint on 23rd November 2014 by His Holiness Pope Francis.