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.- Elizabeth Anikuzhikattil, a Catholic mother whose 15 children included five priests, a bishop, and four religious sisters, died at the age of 94 on July 14.
“We mourn the death of a holy mother,” said Fr. Augustine Kootala, a family friend, in an interview with India's Bosco Information Service.
photo: Don Bosco
Elizabeth Anikuzhikattil and her husband Luke, who died in 2006, raised eight boys and seven girls. Four of her daughters became religious sisters. Two joined the Sacred Heart Sisters in Kerala, one is a Salesian Sister, and another is a Franciscan Missionary of Mary.
Six of her sons have become priests, with the oldest going on to become the current bishop of the Diocese of Idukki in southern India.
“Don Bosco's promise of heaven for her is surely fulfilled,” said Archbishop Dominic Jala of the Diocese of Shillong. St. Don Bosco taught that a priest is the single greatest blessing to a family, and those who give their sons to the Church as priests will blessed for generations.
One of Anikuzhikattil's sons, Fr. Jose Anikuzhikattil, remembered his mother's perseverance in raising 15 children during the “frontier days” of a settlement in Idukki. The family moved to Idukki in 1949 with the first agricultural migrants to the area.
Fr. Anikuzhikattil said the family lived in a large tree house and frequently had to face wild elephants and other animals in the jungle who were displeased with the human intrusion.
His mother took care of one of her youngest sons when he was bedridden for 15 years, due to the paralyzing effects of an autoimmune disorder known as Guillain-Barre syndrome.
“My mother looked after him single-handedly for 15 years without even a single bed sore on him,” said Fr. Jose.
Elizabeth Anikuzhikattil was buried at Holy Family Parish near Munnar, India on July 18.