St. Mariam Thresia Mankidiyan

Founder, Congregation of the Holy Family (1876–1926) 
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Mariam Thresia Mankidiyan was born to a poor Catholic family in the southern Indian state of Kerala. When she was twelve her mother died, forcing her to leave school to help care for her siblings. As she grew older she spent more time performing chores in her local church, while in her spare time she visited the sick, old, and friendless members of the parish. Some felt it was unseemly for an unaccompanied young woman to travel the streets. But her confessor began to recognize her unusual spiritual gifts.  

In 1903, she asked permission of her bishop to build a house of prayer. For many years he refused but eventually gave his consent. There, along with a number of companions, she combined a life of prayer with ongoing service among the sick and poor. The bishop soon encouraged them to form a religious congregation. And so was born the Congregation of the Holy Family, with Mother Mariam as superior. As their numbers grew, they added additional convents, schools, and orphanages.  

Mother Mariam experienced visions of Mary and Jesus, and received other extraordinary spiritual gifts—including the stigmata. She died on June 8, 1926, and was beatified in 2000. At that time there were over 1,500 professed sisters in her congregation in 176 houses in India, Germany, Italy, and Ghana. Her canonization followed in 2019.  

“From childhood my soul agonized with an intense desire to love God.” —St. Mariam Thresia Mankidiyan 

© Liturgical Press.

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.

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