Thatipatri Gnanamma, dynamic foundress of the congregations of St. Anne, Madras, and St. Anne, Phirangipuram, has been declared Servant of God, by the Pope Frances , in March 2013 . This will lead to her Beatification and Canonisation. Gnanamma was an unlettered woman who became a widow at the age of 37. She took great pains to educate her five sons and later dedicated herself to the service of mankind.
At a time when educating women was a tall order, Gnanamma established a school for girls at Kilacheri in 1863 and founded the St. Ann’s Congregation at Phirangipuram in 1874.
On the personal front, Gnananna had to bear tragedy, as one of her sons died young. But, that would not deter Gnanamma, as she single-mindedly pursued her mission of establishing a school and later a congregation. She sold her whole property and utilized it for the work of God.
Humility blending with courage she recognized the greatness and holiness of God and consented to God’s will. In the beginning of her school she intended only to respond to the local needs of the street girl children and destitute like a mustard plant it became the abode for many birds. As the seed must first be buried and lie hidden for a time in order to emerge as a life supporting tree so does Gnanamma remain hidden in her infancy only to emerge as a tall person of Christian holiness.
Inspired by the committed service to the cause of women, two young girls requested Mother Gnanamma to let them help her in her great work and expressed their desire to do so as nuns. Mother Gnanamma, who was anxious to ensure that her work should continue, accepted their request and sent them to be formed at St.Anne’s Novitiate of the Good Shepherd Congregation in Bellary. After their initial formation, in 1882, a religious Congregation for women known as “Sisters of St.Anne – Phirangipuram” was born.
The saints do not compromise with vice and sin. They have one agenda to live on God’s given life completely. Just as the candle melts itself to bring light in darkness our foundress Mother Gnanamma sacrificed her entire life and lit the lives of many deprived.
Mother Gnanamma’s parting message to her beloved daughters:
" My beloved Children! Be obedient to those who are responsible for you! Listen to your spiritual guides! Along with academic and religious education to girls, be the protection and solace of women! Learn to live as women for others in your effort to translate love of God into love of fellow human beings! Do not be dependent on the Government or others financially! May your hard work be your protection and strength!"
The spirit of Mother Gnanamma is so vibrant that she captures the hearts of the people all over the world. Her daring step to abandon her own people and possession in order to empower the women through education enables us to explore new avenues to reach out to the marginalized. It is a great privilege for us to make her name known to the world. She will soon be celebrated across the borders.
Hail Mother Gnanamma
May her spirit be our guide
Guiding Principles of Mother Gnanamma
Primacy of God
Centrality of Jesus Christ
Strong love for the Sisters in fraternity
Zealous care for the young and the weak
Loyalty to the Church
Courageous perseverance in service
Evangelization through life witness, word and deed