Kuriakose Elias Chavara

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Mar Kuriakose Elias Chavara
കുര്യാക്കോസ് ഏലിയാസ് ചാവറ
(വിശുദ്ധ ചാവറയച്ചൻ)
Kuriakose Chavara und Hl. Familie.jpg
Mar Kuriakose Elias Chavara of Mannanam
Founder of CMI and CMC Congregations; Vicar General of East Syrian of Malabar
Born (1805-02-10)10 February 1805
Kainakary, Kuttanad, Travancore, British Raj (now in Alappuzha district, Kerala, India)
Died 3 January 1871(1871-01-03) (aged 65)
Koonammavu, Kingdom of Cochin, British Raj (now in Ernakulam, Kerala, India)
Venerated in Syro Malabar Church
Beatified 8 February 1986, Kottayam by Pope John Paul II
Canonized 23 November 2014, Rome by Pope Francis
Major shrine St. Joseph's Church, Mannanam, St.Philomena's Forane Church, Koonammavu
Feast 3 January (Syro-Malabar)
Attributes Syrian Catholic saint, founder and social reformer
Patronage Press industry, media, literature, congregations

“Just as without eyes one cannot see the material things of the world, so also without knowledge it will be impossible for us to see or understand the reality of this world and the eternity where God dwells in. As those who have no eyes are called “Blind”, so too those who have no learning are to be called “intellectually blind” Hence it is the responsibility of priest to teach the faithful and of parents to teach their children.”

'(Chavara, letters, 95)[1]
St. Joseph's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, (St. Joseph's Monastery, Mannanam) where the mortal remains of Mar Kuriakose Chavara are kept.
Marth Mariam and Infant Jesus, accompanied by John the baptist from Peshitta. Painting of Ravi Varma found at Mannanam.
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Abraham Malpan · Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar · Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban · Kuriakose Elias Chavara · Mar Thoma I · Saint Alphonsa · Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi · Kariattil Mar Ousep · Ignatius Elias III · Geevarghese Mar Dionysius of Vattasseril · Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala · Geevarghese Mar Ivanios · Saint Alphonsa · Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly · Euphrasia Eluvathingal · Thoma of Villarvattom

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Mar Kuriakose Elias Chavara is a Syrian Catholic saint and social reformer from the Indian state of Kerala.[2] He is the first canonised male saint of Indian origin and belongs to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church of the Saint Thomas Christian community founded by St. Thomas the Apostle in the first century.[3][4] He 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 (C.M.I.), and of a similar one for women, the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (C.M.C.).

Early life[edit]

Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born on 10 February 1805 at Kainakary, Kerala in a Nasrani Christian family as the son of Iko (Kuriakose) Chavara and Mariam Thoppil. Nasranis are Saint Thomas Christians (also known as Syrian Christians) who are the ancient Christians of Kerala baptised by St. Thomas the Apostle in the first century. The name Kuriakose is derived from the Syriac Aramaic name ܩܘܪܝܩܘܣ (Quriaqos).[5] He was baptised on 17 February 1805 at St. Joseph's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Chennamkary.The Chavara family has derived from the ancient nasrani family Meenapally in Kainakary.

In his childhood, Kuriakose attended the village school. There he studied language and elementary sciences. He entered the seminary in 1818 in Pallipuram where Palackal Thoma Malpan was the Rector. He was ordained a priest on 29 November 1829 and celebrated first Holy Qurbana at St.Andrew's Forane Church Arthunkal Alappuzha .

Later life[edit]

Kuriakose Elias Chavara joined with two other priests, Palackal Thoma Malpan and Porukara Thoma Kathanar to lead a monastic life. The name of the community they founded was Servants of Mary Immaculate. The foundation for the first monastery at Mannanam was laid on 11 May 1831 by Porukara Thomas Kathanar. Palackal Malpan and Porukara Kathanar died in 1841 and 1846 respectively. On 8 December 1855, Kuriakose Kathanar and ten other priests took vows in the Carmelite tradition. He was nominated as the Prior General of 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.[6]

Social reformer[edit]

Kuriakose Elias Chavara was also a social reformer.[7][8] Though he hailed from a Syrian Christian family,[9] he played a major role in educating the people of the lower ranks of society. In 1846, Fr. Kuriakose started St. Joseph's Press at Mannanam which was the third printing press in Kerala and the first press founded by a Malayali without the help of foreigners.[8][10] From this printing press came the oldest existing Malayalam newspaper in circulation Nasrani Deepika.[7][8][11] He also started a school at Mannanam in the same year. He was responsible for introducing noon day meals in schools, a practice later adopted by the rulers of Travancore and then by the Indian government.[7] In 1864, he was serving as the Vicar General of Syrian Catholics, when Bishop Bernadine Baccinelli ordered to start a school along with every church (palli) which was successful in making free education available for everyone.[8][12] Thus schools in Kerala came to be known as pallikudam.[5][13]

Service to the Church[edit]

Kuriakose Elias Chavara introduced retreat preaching for the laity for the first time in the Kerala Church. He popularised devotions and piety exercises such as rosary, way of the cross and eucharistic adoration. He was the Vicar General of Syrian Catholics[8][12] in 1861 in order to counter the influence of Mar Thomas Rochos on Saint Thomas Christians.[14]

Founder of CMI and CMC congregations[edit]

In co-operation with Palackal Thoma Malpan and Thoma Porukara, Kuriakose Elias Chavara founded an Indian religious congregation for men, now known as the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. He believed that intellectual development and the education of women was the first step towards overall social welfare. Hence he founded, the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, the first religious congregation for women in 1866.[15][16]


Kuriakose Elias Chavara died on 3 January 1871, aged 66, at Koonammavu. He was buried in St.Philomena's Forane Church, Koonammavu[7][8][12] His mortal remains were later transferred to St. Joseph's Monastery Church in Mannanam.[17] His memorial is celebrated on 3 January as per the Syro-Malabar liturgical calendar.[18]


There are various images of Kuriakose Elias Chavara all over the world. The National Shrine of Saint Jude, Faversham, United Kingdom has a beautiful icon of the Saint. In 2004 a fire broke out in the Shrine Chapel which destroyed the murals which hung there, and it damaged much of the other artwork. The decision was made to install icons depicting saints inspired by the Carmelite Rule of Saint Albert, and in commemoration of the 8th centenary of the Carmelite Rule in 2007. The icons were written by Sister Petra Clare, a Benedictine hermit living in Scotland, United Kingdom.[19]


Scores of miraculous favours were reported by the intercession of Kuriakose Kathanar. Sister Alphonsa, who later became the first saint of India, has testified in 1936 that Kuriakose Elias Chavara 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 7 April 1984, Pope John Paul II approved Kuriakose Elias Chavara's practice of heroic virtues and declared him Venerable.[20]

Kuriakose Elias Chavara was beatified at Kottayam on 8 February 1986 by Pope John Paul II in the course of a papal visit to India.[20]

On 3 April 2014, Pope Francis authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decrees concerning the miracle attributed to Kuriakose Kathanar's intercession.[21] This confirmed Pope's approval of Kuriakose Elias Chavara's canonisation.[22] On 23 November 2014, he was canonised at Saint Peter's Square by Pope Francis along with Euphrasia Eluvathingal [23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.kuriakoseeliaschavara.com/testament
  2. ^ http://deepika.epapr.in/c/3897664
  3. ^ "CNN-IBN. Retrieved 23 November 2014". 
  4. ^ "Malayala Manorama Kochi. Retrieved 25 November 2014". 
  5. ^ a b "Malayala Manorama Kochi. Retrieved 23 November 2014". 
  6. ^ "Kuriakose Elias Chavara". CMI. 
  7. ^ a b c d "The Hindu article on Mar Chavara Kuriakose Elias Kathanar". 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Indian Express article on Mar Chavara Kuriakose Elias Kathanar". 
  9. ^ Forrester, Duncan (1980). Caste and Christianity. Curzon Press. pp. 98,102. 
  10. ^ http://www.marunadanmalayali.com/opinion/devotion/saint-kuriakose-elias-chavara-and-malayalam-printing-8074
  11. ^ "Rashtra Deepika Ltd at a Glance". Deepika. 
  12. ^ a b c "Manorama article on Mar Chavara Kuriakose Elias Kathanar". 
  13. ^ "Unique Contributions of Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara in Education". 
  14. ^ "The life of Blessed Chavara". blessedchavara.org. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Congregation of Mother of Carmel". 
  16. ^ "Beatification of Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Alfonsa Muttathupandathu - Homily of His Holiness John Paul II". Vatican.va. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  17. ^ http://www.syromalabarchurch.in/saints.php?saintname=Chavara&page=home
  18. ^ "Bl. Kuriakose Elias Chavara". 
  19. ^ http://www.carmelite.org/index.php?nuc=content&id=116
  20. ^ a b "Canonisation process of Kuriakose Elias Chavara". BlessedChavara.org. 
  21. ^ "Decrees for the Causes of Saints". The Vatican Information Service. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  22. ^ "Laval, Marie de l'Incarnation decreed saints". The Catholic Register. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  23. ^ "Six news Saints to be created on feast of Christ the King". Radio Vaticana. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 

External links[edit]