St. Mary's Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Piravom
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|Rajadhiraja St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Cathedral, Piravom|
Rajadhiraja St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Cathedral, Piravom
|Location||Piravom, Ernakulam District, Kerala|
|Denomination||Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church|
|Dedication||Holy Magi, St. Mary, St. Peter and St. Paul, St. George|
Rajadhiraja St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Cathedral, Piravom, also knows as Piravom Valiyapally is the most ancient and prominent Cathedral Church Jacobite Syrian Church in Kerala, India. The church stands on a hilltop on the eastern bank of the Muvattupuzha river at Piravom, 35 Kms. east of Kochi. It is widely known as the Rajakkalude Pally ("Holy Magi's church"), as well as the Martha Maryam pally. It is a pilgrimage center for Syrian Christians in Kerala.
It is one of the ancient churches in kerala and holds a prominent place in the history of Saint Thomas Christians in India. As the legends say, it is the first Christian Church in the world and it is the only church in the name of the Holy Kings, the Biblical Magi also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men or (Three) Kings, were, in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition, a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It is one among the rare churches in Malankara where there has been daily Holy Mass from very olden times. There is the Holy Tri Mass (The Holy Mass offered jointly by three priests) almost daily and there are two Holy Masses one after the other on Sundays. Pilgrims from far and near come to pray for consolation and comfort. Many parishioners come daily in the afternoon to pray and they light candles in the church and at the tombs of their forefathers in the graveyard, which is another significance of this church among the Churches in Malankara.
About 2000 years ago, "…after the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem of Judaea, in the days of king Herod the "Wisemen" from the east (The Magi) reached Bethlehem through Jerusalem. The "star" they saw in the east was moving to direct them till they reached the birthplace of Infant Jesus… They saw the young child on the lap of mother Mary, knelt down and worshipped him. They opened their treasures and presented gifts to him: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh (St. Mathew 2:1-11) And they returned with exceeding joy and satisfaction to their home land in the east. The Wisemen (Holy kings) were scholars, rulers and devotees. The legends name them as Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar. Old Melchior, middle aged Gaspar and young Belthazar visited Infant Jesus. When they reached back their homeland, they built an edifice in the Indian style and here they began to worship the Holy infant. As such piravom valiyapally is the first church in the world, where worshipping Jesus Christ started. During the 5th Century, this building may have been rebuilt as a Christian church as we now see, " Piravom Valiyapally"
Evidences are many which goes to prove this traditional faith. The commercial connection of Kerala with the western countries and the astrological competence of Kerala are only some. The westerners were visiting Kerala for the business of spices. The major part of the gift presented by the Holy Kings was spices. The Holy Book says that the wise men came from the East. Aryabhata, Vararuchi and Sankaranarayana are examples for the fact that Kerala has been famous for astronomy since olden times. Widely famous astrological centre, the ‘Pazhoor Padippura’ very near to this church is also an evidence to reach to this conclusion. "The place-name Piravom itself is related to piravi(Birth)" Many people are of such opinions. It is seen in the History of St. Thomas (Page. 15; Suriyani Sabha, Kaniyanparambil Kurian Corepiscopa) that the ‘Megusans’(MAGI), who made offerings to Infant Jesus had been sanctified as Christians in India by St. Thomas, when St. Thomas was in missionary works in Kerala.
It is believed that, in the beginning, this church building was in the architectural style of Hindu Temples. But later during the flourishing of the Persian culture, the church building was renovated adopting the Persian architecture. The picture of fish, an ancient Christian emblem has a venerable place in the church. The Church was built as a strong fort; having been built in the periods of "Padayottam" (civilwars and banditry) its walls are more than four feet in thickness.
The church in the pages of history
During the days of Menesis, the metropolitan from Portugal, the texts referring to the Malankara Church history including the Piravom church, (Refer notes on ‘Udayamperoor Synod’), had been destroyed. The Churches that Menesis intruded after the Synod (A.D.1599) includes Piravom Church. (Suriyani Sabha. Page. 131) Later the people of this church participated in the "Koonan Kurish Satyam’ (Coonen Cross Oath) in 1653. Among those who gathered at Mattancheri (Cochin) to declare allegiance to the true faith, the members of this church had active roles.
After the ‘Koonan Kurish’ (Coonen Cross Oath) incident, some people of the Kottoor Church, with prior permission of the Metropolitan, came by boat to take him to their Church. Rev.Fr. Chandi (who gave the leadership to koonan kurish Satyam) also came without prior permission to take him to Kaduthuruthy Church. But the Bishop firstly went to Kottoor Church as agreed earlier. He may have been advised of avoiding a to and fro journey also. Provoked by this Fr. Chandi went to Menesis and joined the Catholic order. But the Piravom Church was firm on true faith. (Sabha Charithram, page. 147) Piravom Church was the seventh among the 103 Churches that took part in the Mulanthuruthy Synod held by H.H. Pathrose-III Patriarch of the Antioch in 1876. (Vicar of Piravom Valiyapally Rev: Fr. Abraham Karammel, Rev: Dn. Thomas Puthenpurackal Rev: Dn. Daveed Thaliachira and Mr. Ittiavirah Ulahannan Karammel participated and signed in the Synod.) Mr. Thommi Puthenpurackel of the Piravom Church. was selected to the sub-committee of the Syrian Christian Association which was then constituted (Suriyani sabha, page. 223). H. H. Pathrose-III the Patriarch had resided in the Piravom Church during 1876.
The holy relics (Thiruseshippu) of the Yeldho Mar Baselios, entombed at Kothamangalm 1685, had been installed at the Piravom Church through the dedicated work of Rev: Fr. Vellirickal.
H.G. Paulose Mar Koorilose who was anointed at Sehiyon Malika on the 31st of May 1908 by H. H. Abdulla Patriarch, stayed for a long time at the church seminary. The Higher Secondary School, (Mar. Koorilose Memorial) is named in memory of His Grace. (M.K.M.H.S.S. Piravom)
Antiquity is found in this church. The blend of ancient artistic splendour and sculptural skill can be seen in the famous Erthazhu (Altar). A very ancient thick slab of granite (1 x 1.5 x 7) with a script engraved in the most ancient Tamil-Malayalam letters, can be seen in the church yard. Another one is in the church-wall having ancient Malayalam script (vattezhuthu) written after additional construction works. Many historical objects which help the research fellows are here, such as the cross lock system, 4 ft thick church wall, lock links, inter connected lock joints, interlocked ceiling, the table showing festival dates in square shaped script on the south wall, the huge cross stone and cross base on the western yard, most ancient worship material prayer scroll and hand-written books etc.
Denaha (Annual celebration of the holy Baptism of Christ) on January 6 is the main celebration in the church. The best attraction of the festival is the procession.
The ‘Paithel Nercha’ (the feast for 12 male children) on the Easter Day at the Piravom church is very famous. The ‘Paithel Nercha" is one of the major offerings dedicated to the church. The main part of the offering is 12 infants will sit with the priest who sanctifies the offering and they will be feasted with delicious food.
The Festival of St. George on May 7 and St. Mary on August 15 are other main festivals.