/

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Progress of the Cause of the Servant of God, Br. Joseph Thamby

Progress of the Cause of the Servant of God, Br. Joseph Thamby
(Part I)


In 2011 on 9th January, Fr. Kata Bala Jojappa was appointed member of Br. Joseph Thamby Ashram , Avutapally, and In-charge of the magazine ‘Thamby Velugu’ as well as the Cause for the Beatification of the Servant of God. In January 2011, Fr. Praveen, the Minister Provincial of Mary Matha proposed Fr. Cherian Palukunnel and Bishop Prakash Mallavarapu of Vijayawada appointed him as Vice Postulator for the Cause with the letter of 15 January 2012. Soon after that, at the recommendation of Fr. Praveen the Provincial, Fr. Florio Tessari, the Postulator General of the Capuchin Order in Rome, approved this appointment with his letter dated 28 February 2012. In the month of April 2012 Fr. Cherian proceeded to Italy and with the help of Fr. Praveen Gopu, got appointment with the Postulator General who resides in Rome, met him and discussed with him on various important matters in this regard. 

The Postulator General emphasized that the report of only the most important Witnesses are to be submitted to the ‘Congregation for the Saints’ for the Beatification; that it should not exceed 60 pages; and that all the pertinent documents can be prepared in English language. Thereupon, happy and encouraged with these guidelines and support of Fr. Florio, Fr. Cherian returned to India. Studying the 149 Rules about the ‘Causes of the Saints’ promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 2000, it became clear that there will be no more need for translating the documents into Latin language, but English also is accepted by the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints. This understanding created hope that ordinary humans can work on the ‘Process for the Beatification’, and take the tedious and laborious task to a meaningful completion in due time. After talking over the matter with Fr. Provincial and the Rector of Brindisi Bhavan, Fr. Cherian moved his stay to Joseph Thamby ashram Avutapally and joining hands with Fr. Kata Bala Jojappa, the Father-in-Charge, began to work assiduously with patience, concentration and firm commitment. 

They found a huge shelf filled with lot of things, among which were 15 huge files, a bundle of CDs, some books on Br. Joseph Thamby in several languages, and a huge amount of papers of several concerns. Of course, they took more than 2 weeks to sort these things out. There were 2 lists of Witnesses, some already interviewed and some others not yet interviewed; some testimonies, lot of correspondence, a few letters of appointments, the questionnaire for interview, many photos of Br. Joseph Thamby, photos of many Witnesses, and a few letters of a few Bishops. Surprisingly many of these items were intermingled one with another. This sight produced in them breath-halting feeling. Frs. Kata Bala Jojappa and Cherian put all of them in order and grouped them according to their kind and preserved in files what could be done. They found 33 CDs that are in no way connected to the Cause of Br. Thamby or the magazine ‘Thamby Velugu’. First of all they kept them aside in order to reduce the weight of labor. They found 19 CDs connected in one way or another, to the Cause of Br. Joseph Thamby. 


Friday, 27 January 2012

Br. Joseph Thamby
A Franciscan Tertiary, Servant of God
September 1883 to 15 January 1945


little brother gopu, Rome.
1. Biographical Note

*Born in September 1883 in Sirone and brought up in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, South India.
*At the age of 12 (1895), he received the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation.
*Left home as a boy to Kerala, the neighboring state and was educated with the help of a pious lady in whose house, he must have worked as a house taker.
*Though he had frequent visits to his home-town from Kerala, only in 1928 he was recognized by his grandmother on the occasion of a funeral service of a relative. He was then 45.
*He joined the Capuchins at Kollam in 1930. He was then 47.
*On 14 September 1932, he was present for the religious profession of his niece Gabrielle Marie Therese OCD (died in 1985) in Puducherry.
*By the time he has finished his training as a Franciscan Tertiary, he was around 50. So, for sure, his being aged around fifty was not in his favour to be admitted into the novitiate of the Capuchin Order. Hence, he had to leave the Capuchins in 1933.
*Br. Roch Vengathanam of Kozhuanal, the first Capuchin brother from Kerala, vested
14 July 1930 has given witness about Br. Joseph Thamby for not being admitted to the Capuchin Order: “he was not accepted to the Capuchin Order because of elephantiasis in his right leg and on account of his ‘excessive piety’ and his experiences of ecstasy were judged to be the fruit of epileptic fits.”
*After leaving the Capuchins, the Tertiary Brother Joseph Thamby continued to wear the habit, as confirmed by a few photographs and a number of testimonies. He remained a staunch member of the Third Order.
1933-1936:at Manathidal, Tamil Nadu: (now a parish) a substation to Michaelpetty parish 3 miles away in the diocese of Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu; he taught catechism, gathered people for Mass, prepared them for the church celebrations, established peace among them, established the Third Order. Finally, he succeeded in getting another priest for the pastoral help to the people of Manathidal.
1936: Among the tribes of Pachamalai, Tamil Nadu; he tried to educate and worked for their up-lift in the society, fought for justice and peace, provided them clothes, treated sick with the country medicine he knew well, tried to establish the church among them.
1936-1939 in Kerala: In 1939, the Archbishop Joseph Attipetty of Verapuzha asked him to train two of the ‘Theresian Brothers’ founded by him for evangelisation, to spearhead their “Puthur Mission” (Ponnukara) in the District of Thrissur. On 28 January 1939, he attended Holy Eucharist offered by Fr. Joseph Chungath (Senior) at Nadathara, with whom he became a close friend and shared his inner life and his extraordinary spiritual powers. He used to beg for money to help the poor in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.
1937-15 January 1945 in Andhra Pradesh; first he came to Bittragunta, Nellore in Andhra Pradesh and did his ministry there among the Railway employees who were mostly from Tamil Nadu. Towards the end of 1937, reached Kesarapally close to Vijayawada, where he stayed for eight months. Except for a few short periods, from 1939 until his death (15 January 1945) he worked in Peddavutapally. He helped the poor, taught catechism, gathered people for Mass, cured the sick, spread Good News in nearby villages, visited families, converted 30 families to catholic faith in Pedavutapally.
15 January 1945: He breathed last as he himself foretold the day.

Spirituality and Spiritual Gifts
Man of God, Charity, Prayer, humility and generosity.
Staunch member of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi.
He lived a life of poverty, self-renewal and total commitment.
Br. Joseph Thamby had the spiritual gifts of Stigmata, Bi-location, Prophecy, Visions, healing the sick, gift of visions, gift of predictions. Many childless couples received and continue to receive children through his powerful intercession.


He still lives in the hearts of the people
*He is a Saint for all his devotees all over India.
*Lakhs of believers (Christians, Hindus, and Muslims) flock to his tomb and shrine at Pedavutapally, Vijayawada Diocese, Andhra Pradesh, India for all kinds of spiritual help.
*Many receive Physical and Spiritual healings.
*He touches the hearts of many sinners and has shown the true light for their lives.
*Everyday thousands of people come and pray at his tomb.
*He had the immense faith and devotion for the Eucharistic celebration, devotion to Mother Mary and all the saints in the Church.
*He lived the vows of religious life in inspiring manner, especially the poverty of St. Francis of Assisi.
*Today the Indian Church is really proud of Br. Joseph Thamby,
*He showed love and mercy towards the poor and lonely.
*People call him as the patron of childless couples, because through his powerful intercessions, many childless couples receive children.


2. Early Life

It is a true story of an ordinary mortal who led an extraordinary life; a Catholic Missionary who tread unusual paths in the most unusual ways in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, INDIA. He dedicated his entire life to give witness to Jesus Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis, little poor man of Assisi, Italy (1182-1226). The life of Br. Joseph Thamby goes on to prove how God occasionally enters into history of people by raising individuals with remarkable gifts to lead and set an example for others to the path of righteousness. We know that God brought St. Francis of Assisi to give a new impetus to the evangelical life in the 12th and 13th centuries; closer home we see the same evangelical life in the ministry of the “holy Franciscan of Pedavutapally” – Br. Joseph Thamby. He led many people to the path shown by Jesus Christ and he continues even today to draw many people to God.

Br. Joseph Thamby, a Perpetual Franciscan Tertiary was born in September 1883 in Karaikal village and brought up in Pondicherry in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. Pondicherry was a French Colony. His parents were Savarymuthu Thamby and Annamalle. Thamby (means younger brother in Tamil; but here it is exclusively used as a surname or rather as a family name) was a well known and well-to-do family from the Vellala community in Sirone. He had a younger brother Michael Dhayirian Thamby (died in 1935) who was five years younger to Br. Joseph Thamby. Br. Thamby lost his mother when he was seven years. His father married a second time and Mary was born to them. The step-mother used to ill-treat the two brothers. We have an account of the step-mother opposing Joseph from receiving the holy Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Despite the opposition, he received the Sacraments in 1895 at the age of 12 by Bishop Gandy of the diocese of Pondicherry. On account of the adverse circumstances created by his step-mother, Joseph Thamby left the house stealthily and reached Kerala where he was taken care of and educated by a pious lady. He must have worked there taking care of the household works and at the same time, receiving good religious education. As for his brother, he went to Saigon in Vietnam, which remained a French colony until 1956, where he married Mary Therese. They had three boys (Albert, Victor ad Robert) and one girl (Gabriele). When the family returned to India, the girl became a Carmelite nun in Puducherry and took the religious name Gabriele Marie Therese. Michael Dhayirian Thamby died in 1935. As for his brother, he went to Saigon in Vietnam, which remained a French colony until 1956, where he married Mary Therese. They had three boys (Albert, Victor ad Robert) and one girl (Gabriele). When the family returned to India, the girl became a Carmelite nun in Puducherry and took the religious name Gabriele Marie Therese. Michael Dhayirian Thamby died in 1935.

He made frequent visits to his birthplace, where he was unrecognized by anyone; even his father gave him some coins without recognising him. Only in 1928, he was recognized by his grandmother at a funeral service of a relative. Again on 14 October 1932, he turned up at the religious profession of his niece Gabrielle Marie Therese OCD (died in 1985) in Puducherry. On this occasion and according to the testimony of Gabrielle Therese, he was dressed in a Franciscan habit. She remembered him saying that he had to return to his Friary at Kollam in Kerala. He was then 50 years old.

3. Franciscan Tertiary, desire to become a Capuchin Friar

The construction of St. Antony’s Friary, the student house at Kollam in Kerala was supervised from 1931 by a French Capuchin, Symphorian of Paris and the same was inaugurated in 1932. We assume that Joseph Thamby must have joined the Capuchins in 1931 or 1932 at Kollam, Kerala. It used to be customary among the Capuchins for postulants of the Order to be first received into the Franciscan Third Order and clothed in the habit (without a hood, with a cord and rosary), then into the novitiate and finally as professed members, before subsequently entering the novitiate of the friars. Thus, Joseph tried to join the Capuchin Order. For sure, his being aged fifty was not in his favour.

Br. Roch Vengathanam of Kozhuanal, the first Capuchin brother from Kerala was vested with the Capuchin habit on 14 July 1930 at Monte Mariano, Mangalore, Karnataka. He was appointed in St. Antony’s Friary, Kollam. He has given witness about Br. Joseph Thamby, “he was not accepted to the Capuchin Order because of elephantiasis in his right leg and on account of his ‘excessive piety’ and his experiences of ecstasy were judged to be the fruit of epileptic fits.” Nevertheless, after leaving the Capuchins, the Tertiary Brother Joseph Thamby continued to wear the habit, as confirmed by a few photographs and a number of testimonies. He remained a staunch member of the Third Order and took upon himself the mission of spreading the Order wherever possible.

4. Zealous Missionary Works

4.1. At Manathidal in the diocese of Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu: 1933-1936

In 1933, Br. Joseph Thamby came to Manathidal (now a parish in the diocese of Kumbakonam, Tanjavur district, Tamil Nadu), a sub-station to Michaelpetty parish which is 3 miles away. Fr. Gnanadhikyam was the parish priest. According to the testimony of Mr. Michael K.R., “some people thought that he belonged to a lower caste, because he was dark. They planned to chase him away from the place but, gradually, they realized that he was a saynyasi (monk). They tolerated him observing keenly his way of life. As a result, the Catholics of Manathidal began to be attracted by the spirit of prayer, austerity and generosity of Br. Joseph Thamby. They gave him food and accommodation. He taught them catechism, established peace among people and prepared for the feasts of the locality. He used to take the people of this place to Michaelpetty Parish to participate in the Holy Mass.’ He taught them about the life of St. Francis of Assisi, his Order and especially the Third Order (Secular Franciscan Order). Some of them wanted to join and as a result, he established a branch of the Third Order there. It is said that from here, he extended his service and ministry also to Kumbakonam and Tanjavur.

With the help of Br. Joseph Thamby, many people began to come to the Parish Church for Mass. Seeing this, Fr. Gnanadhikyam, the parish priest requested bishop for another priest to assist him residing at Manathidal. When Fr. Ignatius P.S. came to Manathidal, Br. Joseph Thamby told the people, “now you have a priest to take care of you and I must go elsewhere and serve many more people.’’

His efforts in a getting a priest in Manathidal are recorded by Fr. Ignatius P.S. on 1 September 1935, the day he took charge and signed by him and Br. Joseph Thamby, and the same was preserved in the parish records. Fr. Ignatius P.S. was in Manathidal till 1942 and in the same year it was raised to a parish and Fr. Stephen took charge as the first parish priest.

His life in Manathidal was humble and poor. He stayed in a tiny tin shed near the Church. He was totally dependent on the people for his living.

4.2. Among the tribes of Pachamalai, Tamil Nadu: 1936

When Fr. Ignatius began to reside at Manathidal, Br. Joseph Thamby moved to Pachamalai (Kumbakonam Diocese and in the district of Thirichinapally, Tamil Nadu) in 1936 for social and evangelical work among the hill-tribes who were considered to be primitive. They were 8 Kilometers away from Kothapalayam parish church, and he stayed there in a hut for pretty long time engaged in social service specially providing clothes for the poor people. He used to collect clothes and even money from Pondicherry for the poor people of Pachamalai.

His life and service in Pachamalai was noteworthy. He identified himself with the poor tribal people there. He tried to educate them and worked for their up-lift in the society. On certain occasion, he protected them from the exploitation of a forest officer and eventually, the officer was suspended from his office on complaint to the higher authority with the help of Fr. Adhiroopam, the then parish priest and a good friend of Br. Joseph Thamby.

The sufferings of the other touched his heart and he would make every effort to provide help irrespective of caste, creed, culture and place. He use to treat wounded people with the country medicine he knew. His desire was to construct a church for which he bought a piece of land. But, when some priests, including Fr. Adhiroopam visited, they have thought that it would be very difficult to establish the church among those tribal people and as a result they have sold the land. With this, Br. Joseph Thamby left Pachamalai.

4.3. In Kerala: 1936-1939

Br. Joseph Thamby extended his ministry and service to the state of Kerala from his hometown Pondicherry from 1936. He knew Malayalam pretty well as he spent good number of years there as a young boy after leaving his home. He was acquainted with some priests and bishops of the area. For some time, his ministry was centered in and around Ernakulam.

In 1938, Thamby found himself in the archdiocese of Verapuzha, in Kerala. The Archbishop Joseph Attipetty himself was very much impressed with the attire and attitude of Br. Joseph Thamby. He felt that Br. Joseph Thamby was the right person to give formation to the ‘Theresian Brothers’ founded by Arch-bishop himself for evangelisation. One of the things he was asked to do was to train the two brothers to spearhead their “Puthur Mission” (Ponnukara) in the District of Thrissur, but they considered him insane and refused to accept his instruction.

On 28 January 1939, he attended Holy Eucharist offered by Fr. Joseph Chungath (Senior), the parish priest of Nadathara, with whom he came into contact and gradually grew in friendship. Br. Joseph Thamby revealed to Fr. Joseph Chungath about his inner life and his extraordinary spiritual powers. Fr. Joseph Chungath acknowledges the spiritual life of Br. Joseph Thamby in his written testimony in 1983.

In Kerala, he would work in the fields as a daily wage earner or beg alms in streets and share what he earned with the poor. Much of the help he got, he use to send to Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh for the help of the poor. Br. Joseph Thamby prayed for the sick and for the conversion of sinners.

4.4. In Andhra Pradesh: 1937-15 January 1945

Bittragunta: Brother Joseph Thamby moved Kerala to Bittragunta, Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh and did his ministry there among the Railway employees who were mostly from Tamil Nadu for eight months.

Kesarapally: Towards the end of 1937, he reached Kesarapally which is about 25 KM away from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. There Br. Joseph Thamby picked up workable knowledge of Telugu and used to gather people for Rosary, lead them to Eucharistic celebration in the parish church at Pedavutapally. He used to make his confessions to Fr. Rasi who was then assistant parish priest. He knew little bit of natural medicine with which he used to treat minor ailments.

Pedavutapally: In the beginning of 1939, he decided to change his residence from Kesarapally to the premises of the parish church at Pedavutapally for the love of the Eucharist. He requested Fr. J.B. Calderaro (PIME), the then parish priest to stay in the Church compound, who was kind enough to give him some place to stay along with his cook in a small thatched hut. Except for a few short periods, from 1939 until his death (1945), he worked in Peddavutapally, seeking to spread the Good News in the surrounding villages: Kesarapally, Telaprolu, Manikonda, Vuyyuru, Vatluru and Uppaluru. He visited the families, attracted many to Jesus Christ not so much by his eloquent words but by his life of simplicity and austerity in the footsteps of Christ Crucified. He was regular to the Mass and the sacrament of Reconciliation. Here, his ministry was preparing the catechumens for baptism, healing the sick, visiting the families in and around Pedavutapally. He won the hearts of the people with his Franciscan simplicity, humility and the spirit of prayer. Thanks to his efforts, more than thirty families in Peddavutapally became Catholic.

The Boyapati family (Basavayya and Sitaramamma) was the one that he brought to faith in Pedavutapally through which many more. The family showed concern and care for Br. Joseph Thamby and he responded with interest in this family. This mutual love and appreciation grew gradually and in course of time this family became receptive to God’s Word. The parish priest was kept in know of these developments in that family. He encouraged the efforts of Br. Joseph Thamby. On 22 July 1939, at night, the family was baptized and received the names Francis and Claramma. He built an altar in honor of St. Francis of Assisi in Boyapati family which we can see even today.

Pedavutapally was the centre of the activities of Br. Joseph Thamby. It is one of the ancient parishes of the Vijayawada Mission. It was erected parish in 1925. The first parish priest to reside was Fr. Bandanadam Marianna and the first parish priest on the records was Fr. L. Anthony. Before that, Fr. Pasquali was there from 1915-17. From 1918 to 1925, priests from Vennenapudi served the people there. Fr. J.B. Calderaro arrived on 14 September 1927, took charge of the parish on 1 March 1928 was the parish priest till 1969, when the Capuchins took over the parish administration.

5. Called to Eternal Abode: 15 January 1945

During the three months preceding his death, Thamby became very austere in his life. He would fast daily on black coffee and an occasional dish of some edible roots, which was locally available. He continued to visit the villages, in particular Kesarapally, Uppaluru, Manikonda and Vatluru, right up to the week before his death. After Christmas in 1944 he went to Manikonda; from there he returned to Peddavutapally, struck by a fever, on 6 January 1945. His works in the villages, his frequent fasts and many austerities had irreparably undermined his health. On 15 January his condition worsened. He had the desire to die in Boyapati family. Surrounded by the Boyapati family, whom he himself had converted, and by various friends and devotees, he died on that same day at the age of 61.

The funeral was postponed to the following day for more people were flocking to Pedavutapally from various remote villages. The funeral Mass was attended by hundreds of people. The anniversary of his death is celebrated with great solemnity, with the participation of tens of thousands of devotees from 13 to 15 January every year.

6. Spiritual Profile

Br. Joseph Thamby is remembered as a real man of God, a man of profound faith and a deep spiritual life.

Br. Joseph Thamby was blessed with the rare spiritual gifts of Stigmata, bi-location/instant location, Prophecy, Visions, curing the sick, multiplying the food, intuition into the minds of the people and many spiritual healing powers. He had a workable knowledge of Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, French and English.

6.1. Man of Prayer: Br. Joseph Thamby was a man of prayer. Wherever he had been, one of the mail items of his apostolate was, gathering the people for prayer, either in the church or in a house. The he would be leading the prayer. Besides partaking in these common prayers, he devoted a considerable time in private prayer both day and night. He had a great devotion to the sacrament of Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation.

6.2. Man of Penance: Br. Joseph Thamby was a man of penance. Perhaps, his main penance was to suffer the pains of his stigmata. Besides this, he practiced other voluntary penances, like bodily mortification and fasting. He was often wearing a belt with small chains attached to it. This was found after his death.

6.3. Man of Humility: Br. Joseph Thamby was a man of humility. He met with many humiliations in his life, especially where he was misunderstood. In these circumstances, he became a fool for God’s sake, patiently suffering the maltreatments. He use to speak aloud with the people who tread in wrong path, but later, he use to feel so sorry for his anger and beg pardon by bending or kneeling in front of the person catching their legs. In order to persuade certain hard-hearted Catholics to go to the Church, he would kneel before them and humbly entreat them to go for Mass. Sometimes, even before disobedient children, he would kneel down and request them to obey.

6.4. Stigmata: Many people affirm the fact that Br. Joseph Thamby was given the extraordinary favour of receiving the stigmata. On Fridays he was seen in agony by many, and at times in ecstasy, which means he might have been participating in the passion of Jesus Christ.

Fr. Jose Chungath (Senior, died on 20 December 2000) whom Br. Joseph Thamby met for the first time on 28 January 1939 and later became a good friend of him is an eye-witness to the experience of Br. Joseph Thamby during the stigmatic trances into which he used to enter especially on Fridays. In his written testimony in 1983, he acknowledges that he had seen Br. Joseph Thamby having stigmata on his body on one of the Lenten Fridays in 1939 at Nadathara convent. Later on Fr. Jose Chungath had the fortune of witnessing Joseph Thamby’s Stigmata and agony at least for five times.

The testimony about the stigmata of Br. Joseph Thamby given by Fr. Vincenzo Pagano, PIME, who was an assistant parish priest at Pedavutapally and his confessor is very impressive. He records, “In the afternoon of the day of my transfer to Pedavutapally, I saw Br. Joseph Thamby in the Church for the first time. He was visibly in great pain, as his short hairs were straight up, the eyes blank, the body hunched and almost crushed and barely able to walk. I noticed fresh blood stains in his hands, on his feet and on his heart. He confided to me that he receives the stigmata on every Friday and lasts for full hour. After few months, I began noticing, besides the five wounds, even a scar of red drops shining, ruby-like, all around his head. On good Fridays, he locked his room the whole day and God alone knew how much he suffered. He avoided visiting villages on those days and was afraid so much of being seen by others.”

Another important witness of Br. Joseph Thamby’s stigmata was Fr. George Kudilingal, the parish priest of Vatluru, which is on the way to Eluru. He said, “That was Friday and he was getting the stigmata. I have seen his stigmata with my own eyes… drops of blood were falling from his head. He was dark and not much handsome. But at the time of the stigmata, he appeared to shine beautiful with much grace reflected on his face.”

Fr. J. Calderaro, PIME, an Italian Missionary, who was a parish priest of Sacred Heart parish at Pedavutapally from 1 March 1928 to 1969 wrote: “At Pedavutapally, there was a local feast and on this occasion I invited many priests among whom were Fr. Andrade and Fr. George Kudilingal, parish priest of Vatluru. Morning, there was procession in every ward of the village with the statue of Our Lady which concluded in the afternoon around 3. Fr. Andrade celebrated Mass immediately in which hundreds of faithful participated and good number of them received Holy Communion, among whom was Br. Joseph Thamby with his stigmata.”

Fr. Paul Chazhoor testified that on a Lenten Friday in 1939 in Kerala, when Br. Joseph Thamby visited him along with Fr. Chungath from Nadathara to ask for financial help for his journey and to help the poor in Vijayawada, he had seen Br. Joseph Thamby bearing the stigmata on his body. He found him lying on the floor unconscious, bleeding from his hands, feet and side. Fr. Paul Chazhoor first thought to be epileptic, but soon realized that something extraordinary was taking place. He bent down and began to massage the legs of Br. Joseph Thamby, which were joined together as if in a nailed position. He was lying in the form of a Cross and was writhing in excruciating pain. Later, returning to consciousness, Br. Joseph Thamby asked for some piece of cloth to wipe away the stains of blood, after which the wounds seem to have disappeared from his hands and feet.

According to the witness of Fr. Joseph Pannikot, one day when Fr. Arlati, the founder of Bp. Grassi High School in Gunadala near Vijayawada, celebrated Mass at 4 a.m. after a long procession, during the Holy Communion, Fr. Arlati noticed that blood was oozing out form Br. Joseph Thamby’s forehead. After the Mass, he found him in his house. He reports, “ I asked him to open the door, which he did. He was in great pains and yet he asked me to sit on the cot. He was suffering immensely, which hardly any person could bear. Blood was oozing from the hands and legs and also from the side. Nearly one hour I spent there and I have seen his intense suffering and bear witness to it. I left him as it was time for the morning Mass. After the Mass and breakfast, I went to Br. Joseph Thamby along with Fr. Calderaro, the parish priest. Then he asked me, ‘Father, is it from the devil or from God?’ I replied, ‘you are the one undergoing the suffering, so you must know better’. The agony continued up to 8 a.m. This seems to have been happening on every Friday.”

Mr. Thomas M. Kurisinkal who was with a diocesan congregation known as Franciscan Missionary Brothers of the Blessed Sacrament, entered novitiate on 1 November 1941 and left on 10 April 1942. He met Br. Joseph Thamby for the first time in January 1944 in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh in a military Church. From then, they became good friends. Mr. Thomas testifies, “on one occasion when he visited me, I was reading a biography of a saint. It was on a Friday afternoon. He sat on the ground and eagerly listened to my reading. After a while, he fell flat on the ground unconscious. Trying to wake him up, I found blood oozing from his hands, feet and side. I wiped off the blood with a piece of cotton and kept it in an unsealed envelop and preserved it for twenty eight years and still remains intact. When I asked him about what had happened, he answered, “every Friday at 3 p.m. I experience within myself the pain of crucifixion and the blood starts to flow.’

6.5. Predictions: To know beforehand the exact time of one’s own death, is not that uncommon although it may look strange. Thamby was aware of his approaching death, and he told his friends that exact time when he would die. He was leading an intense spiritual life nourished by the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, which made him Christ-like and entitled to eternal life. He was not scared of death; on the contrary, it was meeting point where he could encounter his loving Master to whom he was wholly committed for many years. He foretold the date of his death three months in advance and prepared the coffin. As he foretold God called him for his eternal reward on 15 January 1945 at 4 pm.

Fr. Calderaro and Fr. Pagano narrate about the visions that Br. Joseph Thamby had during the time of second world war. He could also read the hearts of the people and know their intentions.

He predicted that the Boyapati family he converted would have a mail child. On 6 May 1940, in the tenth month of reception of Baptism, Claramma gave birth to a male child.

6.6. Bi-location and Instant Location: Br. Joseph Thamby had the gift of bi-location as witnessed by many priests. Fr. George Kudilingal, the parish priest of Vatluru witnesses this. He used to be invited by Fr. Calderaro, the parish priest of Pedavutapally for teacher’s meeting every month and for the feasts. He says, “once I was invited for a feast at Pedavutapally along with Fr. Andrade from Eluru and Fr. Joseph from Denduluru. After the feast, I asked Br. Joseph Thamby, ‘Brother, you always remain at Pedavutapally, why you do not come to other places like Vatluru, Eluru, Denduluru… etc?’ He replied, ‘I will come, but not now since I am suffering from pain on account of the wounds. I shall come on another day.’ Then we went to Pedavutapally railway station to return to our respective places. We boarded the train at 10.30 a.m. and reached Vatluru at 11.30 a.m. From the station, I went to the parish by cycle brought by my servant handing over the bedding. When I reached home, I was surprised to see Br. Joseph Thamby sitting in front of the door of sacristy. When I asked him how did he come, he replied, ‘wherever I want to go a hand touches my back and lifts me up and drops me over there’.”

In the life of Br. Joseph Thamby, some incidents of instant locations are reported. He reportedly effected this about four times.

6.7. Healing: He used to heal people of their various illnesses and perform the ministry of exorcism when called upon to do so. It was known to the people in and around Pedavutapally and so sometimes, they use to come in groups especially of Fridays. Sometimes, Br. Joseph Thamby himself called the sufferers to come to him.

The life of Br. Joseph Thamby goes on to prove how God occasionally enters into our history by raising individuals with remarkable qualities, by whom God leads us to the path of righteousness. His life is a challenge to each of us. He lived a very simple life with extra-ordinary gifts of God. He used simple and practical methods to lead the people to faith. His eviscerated love for God, our Lord Jesus Christ and to St. Francis of Assisi made him to live intensely the Franciscan spirituality of the Secular Franciscan Order. Trusting in the providence of God, Br. Joseph Thamby lived a humble life in and around Pedavutapally rendering the service to all in their material and spiritual needs. His life was marked by the virtues of charity, prayer, penitence and humility.

Tomb of Br. Joseph Thamby, Servant of God
7. Servant of God - 24 June 2007

"Servant of God": It is the title given to a deceased person of the Catholic Church whose life and works are being investigated in consideration for official recognition by the Pope and the Catholic Church as a saint in heaven. The process for canonization is under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Receiving the title Servant of God is the first of the four steps in the canonization process. The next step is being declared Venerable, upon a decree of heroicity or martyrdom by the honored. This is followed by beatification, with the title of Blessed, after the confirmation of miracles attributed to the honored. The final step is canonization, where the honored would receive the title of Saint.

Until today people of all faiths and all walks of life throng to his tomb and implore for his powerful intercession. Taking into account, the steady growth in the number of pilgrims in these years to the shrine of Br. Joseph Thamby, and the great desire of his devotees to see him raised to the veneration at the altar, Marymatha Capuchin Province (Andhra Pradesh-Odisha), with the advice and support of the local Ordinary of the diocese of Vijayawada and the encouragement of the APBC (Andhra Pradesh Bishop’s Council), has taken up the initiative to introduce the Cause of Beatification/Canonization of Br. Joseph Thamby. Hence, he is declared 'Servant of God' on 24 June 2007 by Most Rev. Prakash Mallavarapu, bishop of Vijayawada and thus Br. Joseph Thamby's Cause of the Beatification is inaugurated.

Now the diocese of Vijayawada is recording his life, works and miracles:


Bishop’s House
Ring Road, Vijayawada – 520 008
Krishna Dist., Andhra Pradesh, INDIA
Tel: (0866) 24 71 355, 24 71 093 (O), 24 84 647 (P)
Fax: (0866) 24 75 955 (O)
E-mail: bishopvja@sify.com

Address of the Shrine:

Father Rector
Brother Joseph Thamby Shrine/Ashram
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Peddavutapally, Uguntur Mandal,
Krishna Dist., PIN – 521286, Andhra Pradesh, INDIA
Phone: 08676-259248
E-mail: thambyservantofgod@gmail.com