Canonized on 2nd Nov 1947 by HH Baselios Geevarghese II
St. Gregorios of Parumala is popularly known as ‘Parumala Thirumeni’. Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of the Malankara Orthodox Church who passed away on November 2nd 1902, became the first declared saint from Malankara (Kerala, India). He shines in the cloud of witnesses as a bright luminary giving rays of hope to millions in their suffering and struggles.
As a new priest, his short stay at Mulanthuruthy Marthommen Church gave him an inner conviction that he should lead a hermit’s life in a quieter place. Therefore, he shifted his residence to Vettickal Dayara. At Vettickal Dayara, Corepiscopa Geevarghese started a strenuous life of prayer and fasting. Mar Gregorios was only 28 years when he was made a bishop. Since he was the youngest among all the bishops, he was dearly called by all as ‘Kochu Thirumeni’. The first thing the new bishops undertook was a special fasting-vigil for forty days at Vettickal Dayara under the leadership of ‘Kochu Thirumeni’. This fasting was both symbolic and effective in the pursuit of new life in an old church. Mar Gregorios took charge of the Niranam Diocese and started staying at Parumala.
Mar Gregorios engaged in a threefold activity of tireless service for the church: Diocesan administration, Ministerial formation of deacons, Missionary witness of the church through inner spiritual and theological consolidation, along with evangelical reaching out. In addition to these, Mar Gregorios undertook the task of building a church and seminary at Parumala.
Mar Gregorios believed that the church should engage in educational activity especially to facilitate primary education and English teaching without discriminating gender or religion. Accordingly, he started schools at Kunnamkulam, Mulamthuruthy, Niranam, Thumpamon, Thiruvalla etc. The missionary task of the Church was also evinced by his outreach programme to the socially downtrodden communities at Chennithala, Kalikunnu, Mallappally, Puthupally, Kallumkathara etc. He also organized an evangelical awakening programme for non-Christians at various places like Aluva, under the leadership of the Seminary students. A major task of Mar Gregorios was to motivate the clergy for effective ministry. With this aim, he formed the Malankara Syrian Clergy Association and took many progressive decisions and made many suggestions for the effective functioning of the priestly ministry.
Many churches were built in and outside Kerala and India in the name of Mar Gregorios. Many Saints who remember in our liturgies are not born and brought up in our country. Being a Saint from our own lace, people of different denominations and religions have great faith in his intercession. A lot of schools, colleges, orphanages and similar institutions have been started in his name. There is a hospital and another specialized hospital for cancer care in Parumala. The feast days are first and second of November every year in Parumala. But other Parish Churches are also celebrating feast during that week. In spirit, this saint likes the devotees to grown in spirituality with unceasing prayer, but, fasting worship purity of life and concern for the needy and poor in society irrespective of caste or creed.
Canonized on 2nd Nov 1947 by HH Baselios Geevarghese II
In 1685 at the age of 92, Yeldho Mar Baselios started the difficult mission to India at the request of Marthoma II of Malankara who informed the Patriarchate about the unpleasant situation of the Church here. The saintly Maphryono was accompanied by his brother, two monks and an Episcopo, but only three of them are believed to have reached Malankara. The saint expired on Saturday afternoon on 'Kanni 19' (Malayalam Calendar), 1685 and was entombed on the very next day in the sanctuary of Mar Thoma Cheriapally, Kothamangalam. Though the Holy Father had lived in this land for only a few days, his name has spread far and wide leaving a lasting mark in the history of Malankara Church.
The Holy Father accompanied by the Episcopa Ivanios came to Kozhippilli village near Kothamangalam. When they came to know that they had reached populated areas, the Saint decided that it was unwise for both to travel together with any further. He, therefore, asked the Episcopa to climb a tree and hide while the Saint proceeded on foot for reconnaissance. When the Holy Father reached the banks of Kothamangalam river at Chalakkudy he saw a Nair (Hindu) Gentleman who was tending cattle there. Through symbols, they communicated and the man told the Saint that there was a Church nearby. The Saint asked him to accompany him to the church. The man expressed his inability to do so since he could not abandon the cattle. The Saint took his walking stick and drew a big circle on the ground. Then he asked the man to take all the cattle into that circle. He waited for some more time to see how the cattle behaved and he found that they were not leaving the boundary of the circle. He realized that Mar Baselios Yeldho was a man of God. The man's sister was at that time in labor pains. He told the Saint about the difficult situation. When the Saint asked for some water with a view to bless it, the man thought that he was asking for water to quench thirst and he tried to climb a coconut tree nearby. The tree began to bend! The man took two tender coconuts from the tree and gave them to the Saint. The Saint blessed one of the tender coconuts and asked the man to rush home and make his sister drink the juice. While the Saint waited at the same spot, after about one hour the man returned with the good news that his sister had given birth to a boy. The greater surprise was in store for him, since the cattle had not moved out of the circle. The man gladly accompanied the Saint to the church. While they got into the river to cross it, some children who were swimming in the river tried to throw pebbles at the Saint. Somehow instead of throwing pebbles, they ended up following the Saint and his companion.
The people of Kothamangalam celebrate the Cheriyapally festival on October 2 and 3 with piety and festivity. In remembrance to the instance of guiding Mar Baselios Yeldho to this church by a Nair (Hindu) Youth, his successors are still given the privilege to hold the traditional lamp of the church and lead the 'Rassa' (Church procession) to the church on the festival day of the Saint.
Canonized on 23rd Feb 2003 by HH Baselios Marthoma Mathews II
St. Geevarghese Mar Dionysius Vattasseril, Malankara Metropolitan, was a bright light for the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church that illumined during her dark and tumultuous times and possessed the vision to bring the Church triumphantly from the bonds of foreign oppression. Thirumeni dedicated his entire life to secure the freedom and welfare of the Holy Church. His Grace faced many troubles and obstacles as well as received constant physical and verbal abuse via threats and physical attacks as he courageously led the Church to her independence. He confronted the dangers and obstacles directly responding with vigor, strength and remarkable conviction and confidence in God’s justice and plan, which was a product of his continual fasting and prayer. God protected Thirumeni throughout his life whether in Kerala or abroad as he sought the freedom of the Church from foreign powers. His great triumph lay in the ability to unite the entire Church, both the priests and laymen to follow his lead. He was incredibly gifted in many fields, a multifarious genius. He was a spiritual leader, a theological educator, scholar of languages, literature and traditions. He was a dignified, valorous and noble personality with remarkable commanding power. His two literary works, a Syriac textbook for Beginners and "Mathopadesa Saarangal" (Basic Doctrines of Religion) show the influence of his early training in this direction.
H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Geevarghese II Catholicos of blessed memory remarked in the speech at the burial of Vattasseril Thirumeni, “When we look at the highest solemn position held by Vattasseril Thirumeni and his deep and firm faith in God, he seemed similar to Moses who led the sons of Abraham from the captive land of Egypt to the promised land of freedom and happiness. There is no doubt about it. Moses had spent his entire life for the freedom of his people but he could not enter the Promised Land. He was only able to see the Promised Land from a distance. Likewise, the Moses of the Malankara Church has also watched the freedom of his Church from a distance”.
Vattasseril Thirumeni was a good orator who was well aware of the importance of the vitality and moral persuasiveness of words when delivering speeches to the faithful. Spiritually, he was transformed by Christ and bore no scars from sin. His humility and withdrawal from the praise of this world kept many from seeing the incredibly pious and faithful life that Thirumeni lived. In addition to not publicizing his own spiritual advancement, he also avoided spiritual hypocrisy and arrogance throughout his life. Prayers and fasting were the pillars that were Vattasseril Thirumeni’s spiritual foundation. He faced all the challenges with the power he had gained through his valued spiritual life. In addition to the liturgical hours of prayer, Thirumeni spent much time in private prayers and silent meditations behind closed doors and away from the attention of people. In spite of his busy schedule, he was also able to focus on three to four lessons from the Holy Bible every day. Despite Vattasseril Thirumeni’s literal application of Christ’s instruction to pray in private and not for others to see, many recognized that His Grace was a living saint amongst them.
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