Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Malankara
|Saint Gregorios of Parumala (Geevargese Mar Gregorios)|
Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala (Portrait done by Raja Ravi Varma)
|Born||15 June 1848 Mulanthuruthy
Mulanthuruthy, Kerala, India
|Died||3 November 1902 (Aged 54)
Parumala, Kerala, India
|Venerated in||Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Church; Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church;Syriac Orthodox Church and Coptic Orthodox Church|
|Canonized||2 November 1947 (Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church)
20 December 1987 (Syrian Orthodox church) by H.H Baselios Geevarghese II and H.H. Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
Saint Geevargese Mar Gregorios aka Parumala Thirumeni (15 June 1848 – 2 November 1902) was a bishop of the Malankara Syrian Church. He is the first canonized christian saint from India, in the Oriental 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 Mulanthuruthy near Kochi on 15 June 1848, and christened as Geevargese at the Mulanthuruthy Marthoman Jacobite Syrian 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 Koorilos. 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 2 November 1902.
Gregorios was born as Kochu Ipeora Gheevarghese into the Chathuruthy family in Mulanthuruthy, Kerala. His parents, Kochu Mathai and Mariam, had three sons and two daughters. Soon 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 uncle ( father's brother) who was a Malpan (Syriac guru in priesthood).
A brief life history
He was ordained as a reader-deacon (Korooyo) on 14th Sept, 1858 at the age of ten by Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasius at Karingachira St. George Jacobite Syrian Cathedral. Koroyo Geevarghese continued his training under Geevarghese Malpan until the latter died due to small pox. Although Deacon Geevarghese was also infected with small pox, he miraculously survived it. Afterwards Deacon Geevarghese moved to Pampakuda to continued his studies under Konat Geevarghese Malpan. In the mean time Deacon became associated with the visiting Syrian Bishop Yuyakim Mar Coorilos. Mar Coorilos had great admiration for the deacon and was pleased to ordain him as full deacon, priest and cor-episcopa within few months in 1865. 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, Malankara Metropolitan.
In 1875, the Antioch Patriarch His Holiness Ignatius Peter IV visited Malankara. The Patriarch chose Ramban Geevarghese as his Secretary and translator during the entire visit. Along with the Patriarch , the Ramban visited many churches. Ramban Geevarghese also assisted the Patriarch in the consecration of the Holy Mooron and in the historic synod of Mulanthuruthy in 1876.
On 10 December 1876 the Patriarch ordained Ramban Geevarghese as Metropolitan Gregorios at the St.Thomas Jacobite Syrian 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 of Mar Gregorios was called Chathuruthy and for that reason he is also often referred to as Chathuruthy Thirumeni.
At the behest of our Kochu Thirumeni, all the newly ordained Metropolitans observed a 40-day lent at the 'Vettikkal Dayra' 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 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 involved in the activities and development of the Malankara 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 Mar Geevarghese collected money from all the parishes in Malankara and sent a silver cross as offering to the Jerusalem Church.
Mar Gregorios already had stomach ulcer and it became chronic in 1902. Treatments proved futile and slowly His Grace became physically weaker and weaker. At last the blessed soul left the earthly abode on 2nd November 1902. The funeral was conducted at Parumala on Tuesday the 3rd of November 1902 in the presence of thousands of people and hundreds of priests. The many testimonies to the saintly intercession of Mar Gregorios made Parumala Church and the tomb a centre of pilgrimage. In 1947 Mar Gregorios of blessed memory was declared a saint by the then Catholicos of the church, His Holiness Baselios Geevarghese II. (Courtesy http://malankaraorthodoxchurch.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=149&Itemid=329) and later in 1987 by the Patriarch of Antioch.
For more details visit: http://www.parumalachurch.org/
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