Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly

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Payyappilly Palakkappilly Varghese Kathanar
ܡܪܝ ܘܪܓܝܤ ܦܐܝܐܦܝܠܝ ܦܠܟܦܝܠܝ
Mar Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly.jpg
Mar Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly
Born (1876-08-08)8 August 1876
Perumanoor, Kerala, India
Died 5 October 1929(1929-10-05) (aged 53)
Konthuruthy, Kerala, India[citation needed]
Venerated in Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
Major shrine Mar Yohanan Nepumsianose Syro-Malabar Church, Konthuruthy[1]
Feast 5 October
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Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly was a Syrian Catholic (Syro-Malabar) priest from the Indian state of Kerala and the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Destitute. He was declared as Servant of God by Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in 2009.[2]


Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly was born as Kunjuvaru on 8 August 1876 at Perumanoor to Payyappilly Palakkappilly Lonan and Kunjumariam. Payyappilly Palakkappilly is an ancient Saint Thomas Christian family in India.[3] The word Payyappilly, translated as "beautiful building" or "beautiful house", is derived from the Syriac ܦܐܝܐ Payya "beautiful, radiant" and the Malayalam word പിള്ളി Pilly, a variant of പള്ളി Pally, "church, building".[4] His family had a close involvement with the Church.[5]

Early life[edit]

Varghese was educated in the parish school at Perumanoor and at St. Albert's School, Ernakulam. He received his religious training from the Central Seminary at Puthenpally and the Papal Seminary at Kandy, Sri Lanka. He was ordained a priest on 21 December 1907 and was known as Payyappilly Palakkappilly Varghese Kathanar. He learned the Syriac language under the guidance of Mar Aloysius Pazheparambil.[6]

Varghese Kathanar served as parish priest in Kadamakkudy (1909–11), Alengad (1911–13) and Arakuzha (1920–22). During his tenure in Marth Mariam Syro-Malabar Catholic Forane Church, Arakuzha he began the St. Mary's Higher Secondary School there. His efforts transformed the parish and helped to solve many long-lasting family problems. He gave the lands[clarification needed] to the tenants of the church and had some profitable land purchased for the church, thus making it self-sufficient.[6] He also purchased 12 acres (49,000 m2) of land in M. C. Road for constructing St. Joseph's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Meenkunnam.[7]

Later life[edit]

He was manager of St. Mary's High School, Aluva, Travancore, between 1913–1920 and 1922–1929.[6] According to Joseph Parecattil, who was a pupil at the time, the school was a seedbed of priestly vocations during Varghese Kathanar's tenure.[8]

Varghese Kathanar served as a member of the Diocesan Council, as Director of Apostolic Union as well as Priests' Provident Fund. He was a good mediator and people approached him seeking solutions to their problems.[8] He was held in great honour by the church authorities and equally by the officials in the education department and government officers.[6] His concern and care for the poor and the suffering were noted particularly in the way he helped the victims of a flood in 1924: he turned St. Mary's High School into a shelter for the suffering people and brought food for them in a hired boat.[9]

Sisters of the Destitute[edit]

On 19 March 1927, Varghese Kathanar founded the Sisters of the Destitute in Chunangamvely. This organisation was intended to continue what he saw as Christ’s redemptive mission among the poor. He found abandoned people, brought them to the shelter of the Home for the Aged and nursed them. The S.D. was originally named Little Sisters of the Poor but in 1933 the name was changed to Sisters of the Destitute in order not to be confused with another congregation having the same title.[6]


Varghese Kathanar fell ill in September 1929 and eventually was hospitalised. He died of typhoid on 5 October 1929 and was buried in St. John Nepumsian Syrian Catholic Church, Konthuruthy.[6]

Cause of Canonization[edit]

The Cause of the Beatification of Varghese Kathanar was initiated on 6 September 2009.[10] Subsequently, in February 2011, his remains were exhumed, identified and transferred to a new tomb.[1] The Miracle Tribunal that had been established to study the miraculous healing of Sr. Mercina through Varghese Kathanar's intercession was closed in May 2012[11] and the Archdiocesan Tribunal was closed in November 2012.[11]



  1. ^ a b "Daivadasan" (PDF) (in Malayalam). Ernakulam Missam. March 2011. 
  2. ^ Syro Malabar Church Official Website
  3. ^ Sisters of the Destitute - Founder
  4. ^ "Karunyasarani" (in Malayalam). Roselin Elavanal. March 2015. 
  5. ^ Obituary - Priests, Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly
  6. ^ a b c d e f Sr. Savio S.D., Springs of Compassion — Biography of the Servant of God Varghese Payapilly Palakkappilly
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Cardinal Joseph Parecattil, I as Seen by Myself — Autobiography of Cardinal Joseph Parecattil, pp.128–138
  9. ^ Sisters of the Destitute Founder
  10. ^ Varghese Payapilly Palakkappilly
  11. ^ a b "Archdiocesan Tribunal Closing" (PDF) (in Malayalam). Ernakulam Missam. November 2012.