Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala

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Saint Gregorios of Parumala (Geevarghese Mar Gregorios)
Raja Ravi Varma, Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala (1905).jpg
Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala (Portrait done by Raja Ravi Varma)
Born 15 June 1848
Mulanthuruthy, Kerala, India
Died 3 November 1902 (Aged 54)
Parumala, Kerala, India
Venerated in Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Syriac Orthodox Church
Canonized 2 November 1947 and 20 December 1987 by H. H Baselios Geevarghese II and Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
Major shrine St.Peter's and St.Paul's Orthodox Syrian Church, Parumala
Feast 2/3 November

Saint Geevarghese Mar Gregorios or Parumala Thirumeni (15 June 1848 – 3 November 1902) of Parumala was a bishop of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. He is the first canonized Christian saint from India, in the Orthodox tradition. He is popularly known as Parumala Thirumeni (Bishop of Parumala) or Chathuruthiyil Kochu Thirumeni. He was born in the priestly family of 'Pallithatta Thanagattu' in the village of Mulunthuruthy near Cochin on 15 June 1848, and baptized Geevarghese at the Mulanthuruthy Mar Thoman Orthodox Church. He had a thorough knowledge of Theology and Syriac, which he learned from his teachers, Pallithatta Fr. Geevarghese Malpan (uncle), Konatt Malpan of Pambakkuda and Yuyakim Mar Kurillos Bava, the Patriarchal delegate. He became a deacon at the age of 10, a priest at the age of 18, a bishop at the young age of 28 (the reason for calling him 'Kochu Thirumeni'); he died 3 November 1902.

Early life[edit]

Gregorios was born as Kochu Ipeora Gheevarghese[1] into the Chathuruthy family in Mulanthuruthy, Kerala. His parents, Kochu Mathai and Mariam, had three sons and two daughters. After the birth of the fifth child, Ipeora, Mariam died. His elder Sister Mariam who was married to Varkey of Palal Kalappurackal Vadakkeveedu (Kurinji)near Puthencruz brought him up. Gregorios was taught by his father's brother who was a Malpan (Syriac Teacher in priesthood). He was ordained as a deacon on 14 September 1858 at the age of ten by Palakkunnathu Mar Athanasius.

A brief life history[edit]

St. Gregorios received the order of Korooyo at the age of ten by Palakunnath Mathews Mar Athanasius at the Karingachira St.George Orthodox Syrian Church. At the age of 18, he was ordained Shamshono by Yuyakim Mar Kurillos, the Patriarchal delegate of Antioch. Soon after, Geevarghese was ordained Kassisso and later as Corepiscopa, again at the hands of Yuyakim Mar Kurillos Bava. Later he settled at the Vettikkal Dayro near Mulunthuruthy where he led a monastic life. In 1872 he was ordained Ramban (Monk-Priest) by H G Pulikottil Mar Dionysius.

Protestant missionary activities, aided by the British government, were at their height; many of the Syrian Orthodox moved to the new churches. The Orthodox of Malankara wished to stop this, under the chairmanship of Ramban Geevarghese in September 1872. They asked the help of the supreme head of the Church, the Patriarch of Antioch, who lived in the monastery of Deir ez-Za`faran (Kurkumo Dayro) in Turkey. Mar Ignatius Peter III, the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East, arrived in Malankara in 1875. Ramban Geevarghese, who spoke Syriac, was appointed as the interpreter to the Patriarch, and became his private secretary. Ramban Geevarghese assisted at the historic Mulunthuruthy Synod convened in June/July 1876.

On 10 December 1876 the Patriarch ordained Ramban Geevarghese as Metropolitan Gregorios at the St.Thomas church in North Paravur. When in Malankara, the Patriarch had consecrated six Metropolitans of whom Mar Gregorios was the youngest, at 28, and hence came to be known as Kochu Thirumeni. The ancestral house where Mar Gregorios was born and brought up was called 'CHATHURUTHY' and for that reason he is also often referred to as Chathuruthy Thirumeni.

After the departure of the Patriarch in 1877, at the behest of our Kochu Thirumeni, all the newly ordained Metropolitans observed a 40-day lent at the 'Vettikkal Dayro' before their assumption as Diocesan Metropolitans. In his bishopric, he established various churches and was the motivator to establish schools in different parts of Malankara. In the late 1890s many educational institutions were started by the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church under the initiative and guidance of Parumala Kochu Thirumeni and Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius (Malankara Metropolitan). St.Thomas School at Mulanthuruthy, St. Ignatius School at Kunnamkulam (named after his mentor the Patriarch of Antioch Mar Ignatius Peter IV), the Syrian English School (now known as 'MGM High School') at Thiruvalla, etc., were some of the well known schools of the Church at that time.

Gregorios was involve in the activities and development of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Following the demise of Metropolitans, the administration of Thumpamon and Kollam dioceses also fell under him. In 1887 the first block of the 'Parumala Seminary' was consecrated.

While staying at Parumala Seminary, Mar Gregorios taught Syriac to deacons. He used to rise at 4 am for prayer., and prayed seven times a day as taught by the Holy Fathers of the Church. He observed lent by fasting, particularly on Fridays and Wednesdays.

He visited Jerusalem in 1895, staying at the "Sehion Malika" (Monastery of St.Mark), the diocesan headquarters of the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan. During his stay he visited most of the important places of Christendom, and led the Passion Week services at the altars of the Syrian church in Jerusalem. On his return Geevarghese collected money from all the parishes in Malankara and sent a silver cross as offering to the Jerusalem Church.

At the age of 54 he became seriously sick and died.

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