The 360 virtual tour of Mother Eliswa Museum, Kochi helps us to explore the historical places in detail.
Mother Eliswa was a prophetic person. Living in a particular historical situation, she became an authentic interpreter of the same and a beacon of light to all who were in need of the right direction. In 1862, Eliswa spoke about her desire to serve God to her parish priest, a young Italian named Fr. Leopold. The rest has gone into the history of how the Third Order of the Carmelite Discalced (TOCD) was formed.
“There were no Malayali nuns then and the Church was considering bringing in Spanish nuns to carry on God’s work here. That is when Mother Eliswa came forward willing to serve. The Church trained her along with her sister Thresia and daughter Anna, who was also drawn to Mother Eliswa’s way of life,” said a nun of the order.
In 1866, the first nuns from Kerala formed the Congregation of Teresian Carmelites (CTC) under TOCD. The first convent was a simple bamboo-mat house at Koonammavu, on the land once administered by Vareed Vakayil. The congregation, under Mother Eliswa, was given the task of teaching girls who had no means to pursue education. St. Joseph’s LP School at Koonammavu was set up in 1868 as the first Catholic school for girls in Malabar. Mother Eliswa’s mission in life was to educate young girls and she set up several girls’ schools here.
When she moved to Varapuzha after the separation of the Latin and Syrian rites of the Church, St. Joseph’s School for Girls at Varapuzha was set up. Mother Eliswa breathed her last on July 18, 1913, at the convent near the Varapuzha school. Mother Eliswa was also the first nun from Kerala and established the first convent in the State
Today, the order has around 1,400 nuns in 171 convents around the country. Over the 100 years after the death of Mother Eliswa, the Carmelite order in the country grew in size and extended its operations in the field of women’s education and welfare.