Kuriakose Elias Chavara

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Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, T.O.C.D.
Kuriakose Chavara und Hl. Familie.jpg
Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara T.O.C.D.
Religious, priest and founder
Born (1805-02-10)February 10, 1805
Kainakary, Kingdom of Travancore
Died January 3, 1871(1871-01-03) (aged 65)
Koonammavu, Cochin, British India
Honored in Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
(the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate and the Sisters of the Mother of Carmel) and the Order of Discalced Carmelites
Beatified February 8, 1986, Mannanam, Kerala, India by Pope John Paul II
Major shrine Chavara Shrine, Mannanam, Kottayam
Kerala, India
Feast January 3

Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, T.O.C.D., was the co-founder and first Prior General of the first congregation for men in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, now known as the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, and of a similar one for women, the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel. His canonization is set for 23 November 2014.


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Early life[edit]

Kuriakose Chavara was born on February 10, 1805, at Kainakary, Kerala, India, the son of Iko (Kuriakose) Chavara and Mariam Thoppil. He was baptized on February 17, 1805, at Chennamkary Parish Church in Alappuzha.

In his childhood, Kuriakose attended the village school. There he studied language and elementary sciences. He entered the seminary in 1818 in Pallipuram where Father Thoma Palackal was the Rector. He was ordained on November 29, 1829, at Arthunkal and presided over the Holy Qurbana (Eucharist) for the first time at Chennamkary Church.

Religious life[edit]

Father Kuriakose joined with two other priests, Thoma Palackal and Thomas Porukara to lead a monastic life. The name of the community they founded was the Servants of Mary Immaculate. The foundation for the first monastery at Mannanam was laid on May 11, 1831, by Father Thomas Porukara. Fathers Palackal and Porukara died in 1841 and 1846, respectively. On December 8, 1855, Father Kuriakose Chavara and ten other priests took vows in the Carmelite tradition. He was nominated as the Prior General of the Mannanam Monastery. The congregation became affiliated as a Third Order institute of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. From that point on they used the postnominal initials of T.O.C.D.[1]

Service to the Church[edit]

Father Kuriakose introduced Retreat Preaching for the laity for the first time in the Kerala Church. He popularised devotions and piety exercises such as Rosary, the Way of the Cross, Eucharistic Adoration etc. He was made Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Verapoly in 1861, in order to counter the influence of the Mar Thomas Rochos of Chaldean bishops.[2]

Social reformer[edit]

Kuriakose Elias Chavara was also a social reformer and played a large role in educating the people of the lower ranks of Indian society. He started as school at Mannanam in 1846. He first introduced the system called "A school along with every church" which was successful in making free education available for everyone. Thus schools in Kerala are called pallikudam.[3] He believed that intellectual development and the education of women was the first step towards overall social welfare. Hence, he founded the first religious congregation for women in 1866.[4] Father Kuriakose founded the first printing press of the Indian Catholic Church at Mannanam. From this printing press came the first Malayalam Daily Nasrani Deepika.[5]

Founder of Religious Congregations[edit]

In co-operation with Fathers Thomas Palackal and Thomas Porukara, Father Kuriakose founded an Indian religious congregation for men, now known as the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. Later, with the help of an Italian missionary, Father Leopold Beccaro, O.C.D., he started an Indian religious congregation for women, the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel.[6]


Father Kuriakose Elias died on January 3, 1871, aged 66, at Koonammavu, of natural causes. His memorial is celebrated on January 3.[7] His mortal remains were transferred to Mannanam.


Scores of miraculous favours were reported by the intercession of Kuriakose Elias. Sister Alphonsa, who later became the first saint of India (Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, F.C.C.), has herself testified in 1936 that Father Kuriakose had appeared to her twice during her illness and relieved her suffering. In 1955, Mar Mathew Kavukattu, arch-bishop of Changanacherry, received instructions from Rome to start diocese-level procedure towards the canonisation. On April 7, 1984, Pope John Paul II approved the Servant of God, Kuriakose Elias Chavara's practice of heroic virtues and declared him "Venerable".[8]


Venerable Kuriakose Elias Chavara was beatified at Kottayam on February 8, 1986, by Pope John Paul II, in the course of a papal visit to India.[8]


On 3 April 2014, Pope Francis authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decrees concerning the miracle attributed to Kuriakose Elias' intercession.[9] This confirms Pope's approval of Kuriakose Elias' canonisation.[10] On June 12, 2014, the Pope decreed that Blessed Kuriakose Elias be inscribed in the roll call of Saints on 23 November 2014, the Feast of Christ the King.[11]


External links[edit]