St. Mary's Cathedral, Puthencavu

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St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Puthencavu
Denomination Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
Tradition Malayalam
Website St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral
Founded 2 December 1793
Diocese Chengannur Diocese

St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Puthencavu is one of the important churches in South India, located at a village named Puthencavu (near Chengannur), Alappuzha district in Kerala state of India.[1][2][3] The church is one of the oldest Christian churches in Central Travancore region of Kerala.


The people of Puthencavu depended on the old Suriyani Church in Chengannur or the church in Maramon before the establishment of this church. The hall in the church in the southern side of the Chengannur Pazha Suriyanipalli was specially built for the Pakalomattom Ayrookuzhiyil Tharakans to view the Holy Qurbana. The new church was set up under the leadership of the Ayrookuzhiyil Tharakans, the prominent family of Puthencavu and the guidance of Mar Thoma VI. Due to the distance to the nearest church, Ayrookuzhiyil Idicula Tharakan and other Christians in the area decided to construct a church in Puthencavu itself. The Christians of Puthencavu decided to approach the Marthoma VI. During that time, the Travancore Maharaja had penalised the Marthoma VI per the request of the Dutch for the delayed payments of expenses in bringing the bishops: Mar Baselious Malprina, Mar Gregorios and Yohananon Ramban from Sheema during the times of Mar Thoma V. The Travancore government confisicated the metropolitan bishop's items and the goods and movable properties of the Niranam Church. It is believed that this church bell from Niranam Church is that which hangs even today on the East Fort gate of Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram. It is legendarly believed that the Tharakans and the Christians in Puthencavu saved the arrest of the metropolitan bishop by giving the money which was gathered for the construction of the church.The excess money after settling this was believed to be source of Vattipanam later. Soon after becoming the Metropolitan Mar Thoma VII continued to discuss with Col. Macaulay, the British resident, and the church decided to deposit as loan in perpetuity a sum of 3000 Poovarahan (A poovarahan, known as Star Pagoda had a market value Rs. 10300). The deposit was handed over to Col. Maccaulay on 1 December 1808 and he issued the receipt.[4] The agreement stipulated that interest should be paid to the Malankara Metropolitan. This deposit is now known as Vattipanam. Later when there were more than one Metropolitans in Malankara Church, it became necessary to decide the rightful authority to receive the interest. So the government convened meetings with the church leaders and according to their decision issued proclamations authorizing that person to be the Metropolitan to receive the interest. This resulted in several court cases for several years till 1958.

Rev. Claudius Buchanan, a Scottish theologian and C.M.S missionary [5] visited Puthencavu and Marthoma VI in 1806. Mar Thoma was very happy to hear Buchanan’s intention of translating the Bible into Malayalam, the local language. Mar Thoma VI presented the Dr. Buchanan, a bible in Syriac language which is now deposited among the Oriental Manuscripts in the public library of the University of Cambridge.Buchanan said about this in his book: "At this time, a volume of the Bible was found in a remote church of the mountains, containing the Old and the New Testaments, engrossed on strong vellum in large folio, having three columns in the page, written with beautiful accuracy, in the Estrangelo Syriac (the character in which the oldest Syrian manuscripts are written), and illuminated; that the Syrian church assigns to this manuscript a high antiquity; and that it has been handed down to the present time under circumstances so peculiarly favourable to accurate preservation, as may justly entitle it to respect, in the collation of doubtful readings in the sacred text."[6]

The Church was consecrated in the name of St. Mary in 1793 (malayalam year 969 Vrishchikam 19) by Mar Thoma VI. The Church still preserves, even today, the room, bed and chapel of first Holy Qurbana conducted by Marthoma VI.[2] Mar Thoma VI stayed in Puthencavu from 1794 to 1808 due to which the place become the centre of Suriyani Christians of Puthenkoor of the Malankara Church. The remains of Mar Thoma VI,[4][7][8] Mar Thoma VIII and Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos, (the famous Puthencavil Kochu Thirumeni)[9] who led the Malankara Sabha are interred in this Church.[2]

Ayrookuzhiyil Abraham Kathanar (Sr.),youngest son of Ayrookuzhiyil Idicula Tharakan (Sr) was the first vicar of this church in 1793 and was ordained by Marthoma VI.[10] Thomas Kizhakethalaykkal, the father of Mar Philoxenos Thirumeni,[2] Ayrookuzhiyil Abraham Kathanar (Jr.) etc. served long years as the vicars of this Church.[10] Thomas Mar Athanasius (current Metropolitan of Chengannur Diocese) and nephew of Puthencavil Kochuthirumeni, Rev. C M Philipose Cor Episcopa are members of this church.[11] The body of Ayrookuzhiyil Abraham Kathanar (Sr.) was buried inside the church.[10] During the times of Abraham Kathanar (Sr.), Puthencavu church was the centre of Puthencoor section of the Malankara Church. Ayrukuzhiyil Chandy Kathanar, youngest son of Abraham Kathanar (Sr.) followed the vicarship of the church after his father. Chandy Kathanar was ordinated to priesthood by Mar Thoma VIII. Chandy Kathanar's youngest son, Abraham Kathanar (Jr.) (1818–1901), who was raised to priesthood by Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius (Mar Thoma XII), become the vicar of the church later. As the vicar of the participating church, Abraham Kathanar (Jr.) co-signed the famous Mavelikara Padiyola (1836)[12] and Kallumkathra Padiyola (1843).[13] Joseph Kathanar (1863–1947),[14] son of Abraham Kathanar (Jr.) was the assistant vicar of the church. The body of Ayrookuzhiyil Abraham Kathanar (Jr.) was also buried inside the church even though he had moved as vicar of Puthencavu Marthoma church upon the formation of Marthoma Sabha.[10]

Two perunals ( church festivals ) of Mar Anthrayos, the 17th century Syrian saint who was buried at Kallada, and Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos are celebrated in this church yearly.[15] The wooden horse of Mar Anthrayos is still preserved in the church. There are a lot of folktales stories around this horse on which the Anthrayos Bava used to travel at night.[15]

The Church is also the parent-parish of several parishes within and around of the same diocese which includes Arattupuzha, Kurichimuttam, Piralassery, Mulakuzha, Koorthamala, Nellikkal, Idanadu, and Mangalam.[2]


  1. ^ "Puthencavu St. Mary's Cathedral Alappuzha (Alleppey) and Kerala, India". Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Puthencavu, Chengannur". Mar Philoxenos Memorial Friends Association. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  3. ^ "Puthencavu". Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  4. ^ a b "The Fathers who led the Sabha". Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  5. ^ "The Story of Christianity in India". Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  6. ^ Buchanan, Rev. Claudius. Memoir of the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India Page 76.
  7. ^ "MOR DIONYSIUS I : The sixth Metropolitan of the Malankara Syrian Church". Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  8. ^ "The Heirs to the Throne of St. Thomas (Mar Thoma)". Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  9. ^ "History of H.G.Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos Metropolitan". Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  10. ^ a b c d Pakalomattom Ayrookuzhiyil Kudumbacharitram. Pakalomattom Ayrookuzhiyil Kudumbayogam. 2005. p. 372. 
  11. ^ "H.G. Thomas Mar Athanasios — Chengannur Diocese". Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  12. ^ "Mavelikar Padiyola". 1836. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  13. ^ "Kallumkathra Padiyola of 1843" (PDF). 1843. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  14. ^ "Clergy list of The Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar -Seniority Order" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  15. ^ a b "ST . MARY 'S CATHEDRAL". Kunnumpurathu Kudumban. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 

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Coordinates: 9°19′14″N 76°37′57″E / 9.320684°N 76.632514°E / 9.320684; 76.632514