Cochin (Agenzia Fides) - Saint Joseph was not a fisherman, but his figure is venerated by the fishermen of Kerala, a state in southern India where fishing represents the local economy. The saint is a point of reference for fishermen who "seek his intercession, call upon him as a saint who dispenses miracles and is always ready to help in moments of need", explains Fr. Antony Thachara, a priest in Cochin. "In difficult times families have always shared food, as a sign of friendship and solidarity and invoked St. Joseph", he adds.
The community hands down what happened in 1905: a huge natural disaster hit Kannamaly and other parts of the coast of Kerala. The destruction was without limits: many fishermen died, boats were destroyed, the earnings of a life vanished. And all the drinking water systems were destroyed. A cholera epidemic broke out and many others were victims of the disease. The pastor, Fr. Joseph Suarez had difficulty burying the dead. People were desperate.
The news that Kannamaly was hit by cholera spread throughout the world and, for fear of spreading the epidemic, the people in Kannamaly were confined in the territory. Without medicines and without food. On the night of 11 March 1905, Fr. Joseph Suarez began to cry. He woke up early in the morning, after a dream. The people were already in the church for Sunday Mass. The priest told the faithful: "After Mass, we will eat the food in honor of St. Joseph. He is the last resort we can turn to". He blessed the food and the faithful ate it. When they went back home, many realized that all the sick surprisingly began to recover. All Kannamaly reached the church to thank St. Joseph for his intercession. Cholera in Kannamaly ceased and the population was saved. From then on, in order to celebrate the miraculous event, on March 19, we live a great celebration in honor of the saint, with a meal shared by thousands of people.
"The huge flow of pilgrims express strong faith and trust in the Providence of God, for St. Joseph's intercession", said to Fides Fr. Aidrin D'Souza, local priest of the shrine in Kannamaly, founded in 1873. In this year’s celebration Mgr. Joseph Kariyil, Latin Bishop of Cochin, celebrated a Mass before an assembly of 250 thousand pilgrims to ask St. Joseph for a special intercession and blessing for their work and for their fishing life. Then they ate a meal in memory of the saint’s miracle (PN-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 31/03/2017)