Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Parumala Thirumeni - India

Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala

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Saint Gregorios of Parumala (Geevarghese Mar Gregorios)

Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala (Portrait done by Raja Ravi Varma)
Born 15 June 1848
Mulanthuruthy, Kerala, India
Died 2 November 1902 (Aged 54)
Parumala, Kerala, India
Honored in Jacobite Syrian Christian church & Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
Major shrine St.Peter's and St.Paul's Orthodox Syrian Church, Parumala
Feast 2 November
Saint Geevarghese Mar Gregorios or Parumala Thirumeni (15 June 1848 -2 November 1902) of Parumala was a Malankara Syrian Orthodox bishop and later canonized by the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and Jacobite Syrian Christian Church . He is the first canonized saint of the Oriental Orthodox Churches hailing from India. He is popularly known as Parumala Thirumeni (Bishop of Parumala) or Kochu Thirumeni.


Early life

Geevarghese was born into the Chathuruthy family in Mulanthuruthy, Kerala. His parents, Kochu Mathai and Mariam, had three sons and two daughters. After the birth of the fifth child, Ipeora, Mariam died. Geevarghese was educated by Malpan (teacher) Geevarghese of Chathuruthy, Kochi, and was ordained as a deacon on 14 September 1858 at the age of ten by Palakkunnathu Mar Athanasius and was reordained in 1864 at Karingachira St.George Jacobite Church .[1]


St.Peter's and St.Paul's Orthodox Syrian Church (Parumala Church)
Malpan became seriously ill with smallpox and Deacon Geevarghese was the only one who stayed and took care of him, while all others were sent home. On the eighth day, Malpan died and Geevarghese became ill. During this time, he had a vision of St. Mary descending to console him and exhorting him to dedicate the rest of his life to the Lord. Very soon, the deacon recovered. At the age of 18 in 1865, he was ordained as a priest. Joseph Mor Dionysios raised him to the order of monks (Ramban) in 1872. The Patriarch of Antioch HH. Moran Mor Ignatius Peter IV consecrated four metropolitans at Paravoor Jacobite Church, Kerala in 10 December 1876. The youngest among them was Geevarghese Ramban who was named Mor Gregorios. Because of his age everybody called him "Kochu Thirumeni" (Young Bishop). Mor Gregorios served as Secretary and translator of H.H. Patriarch Ignatius Peter IV and witnessed the historic Mulanthuruthy Synod resolution of 1876 signed between Syrian Orthodox Church in India and Holy throne of Antioch and All the East. Mor Gregorios was appointed the bishop of Niranam, Kerala. He started a monastery at Parumala, Kerala.


At Parumala Syrian Seminary he led an ascetic life. He woke up at four in the morning and prayed till 5am. He taught deacons till 7am followed by prayer and a light breakfast. From 9am till 11am he taught deacons again. From 11am to noon he took care of administrative matters and again went to pray at noon, followed by lunch. He rested till 1:30pm and taught till 4pm with a brief prayer in between. From 4pm to 5:30pm he was busy with his administrative duties. After evening prayers and supper, he taught the Bible to the deacons. After the compline, he would let the deacons go to bed at 9pm, but he would still be praying until midnight. On Wednesdays and Fridays and Lenten days, he would fast till evening besides observing his own special fasts. In his own words "Prayer brings truth, religious faith, honesty and respect among the people."[2]
Parumala Thirumeni did not let all the responsibilities of teaching, administration, and scholarly pursuits detract him from his true calling, to serve fellow human beings. When a smallpox epidemic (a near fatal disease at the time) struck Thumpamon and surrounding areas, Thirumeni personally visited every home that had been affected, over protests from many loved ones, to pray for and comfort the sick regardless of their caste or creed. His faith and his actions garnered him a lot of support not only from within the Malankara Church but the entire Indian community.


Tomb of St.Gregorios at Parumala Church
St. Gregorios became sick when he returned from Veeyapuram Church after blessing a marriage. Even from the beginning of his illness he knew that he was in his last days. He died on 2 November 1902 at midnight aged 54. He was later proclaimed as a saint first by Indian Orthodox Church and later by H.H Patriarch of Syrian Orthodox Church (Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church). His tomb and birth place are also centres of pilgrimage.

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