St.Gregorios, popularly known as PARUMALA THIRUMENI" was born on 15th of June 1848, into a the priestly family of 'Pallathattu Thanagattu' in the village of Mulunthuruthy near Cochin, India.
He was baptized by name Geevarghese (George) at the Mulanthurthy Mar Thoman Church. After he lost his mother when he was a small boy, he was brought up under the loving care of his elder sister Mariam.
From his early childhood, he had been leading a very disciplined life, enriched by prayer and fasting. Even as a boy, he had a deep fascination towards Syriac, the liturgical language of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
His uncle, (father's brother) Malpan Kassisso Geevarghese, who was himself an authority in Syriac, and a celibate priest, noticed his nephew’s extraordinary ability to sing,gave him proper guidance.
Two other personalities who had great influence on young Geevarghese were Malpan Kassisso Geevarghese Konattu and St.Yuyakkim Mor Koorilos Bava, the Syrian Metropolitan who was Reesh Episcopa to Malankara.
During the years that followed, the church witnessed the emergence of this great Saint. Through his continuous prayers, he made it clear to the world, that Prayer and devotion is mightier than any other worldly possession.
The Holy Father's short life was remarkable in many respects. He became
He passed away at the age of 54 on 2 nd. of November 1902.
After leading a saintly life of prayer and fasting, he become one of the brightest jewels of the Universal Syrian Church
A brief life-history
At such a young age of 10, Palakunnath Mathews Mor Athanasius initiated Geevarghese to the order of Korooyo at the Karingachira St.George Jacobite Church.
At the age of 18, he was ordained Shamshono by Yuyakim Mor Koorilos, The very next month Shamshono Geevarghese was ordained a Kassisso (full priest) and later as Corepiscopa, by Yuyakim Mor Koorilos Bava.
He settled at the Vettickal Dayro near Mulunthuruthy, where he led a very strict monastic life. In 1872 Mor Dionysius V Pulikottil professed him a Ramban (Monk-Priest)
During this period, the activities of the Protestant Missionaries, supported by the British Government, were at its peak. These missionary groups and their supporters created a great deal of trouble and caused untold hardships to the Syrian Church. They not only deported the Patriarchal Delegates from the states of Travancore and Kochi, they also prevented Indian metropolitans from entering the churches. Those who opposed these missionaries were arrested and put in jail (Church history by E M Philip). A number of Syrian Christian churches were either closed or taken over by the government.
Under the leadership of Ramban Geevarghese Chathuruthy, the faithful organized a general body of Malankara Church on 8 th. September 1873 at Parumala. They decided to seek the help of the Church Supreme, the Patriarch of Antioch, to find a solution to the prevailing problems.
Following the request, His Holiness Ignatius Peter IV - the Patriarch of the Apostolic See of Antioch & All the East and the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, came to Malankara in June 1875. Ramban Geevarghese who was well versed in Syriac was appointed as the interpreter to the Patriarch. The Patriarch was so impressed by the young Ramban, that he chose him as his private secretary.
When the historic Mulanthuruthy Synod was convened during the month of June 1876, the assistance of Ramban Geevarghese was of great help to His Holiness. The Patriarch came to regard the Ramban in such high esteem, that His Holiness decided to elevate him to the order of Metropolitan.
H.H. the Patriarch ordained Ramban Geevarghese as a Metropolitan on 10th December 1876 at the North Paravur St.Thomas Church. He was named Gregorios.
Of the six Metropolitans ordained by His Holiness the Patriarch during his stay in Malankara, Mor Gregorios was the youngest. He was only 28. He therefore came to be known affectionately as ‘KOCHU THIRUMENI’.
As the ancestral house where Mor Gregorios grew up as a boy was known by name 'CHATHURUTH’, he was also known as ‘CHATHURUTHY THIRUMENI’
After the Patriarch left in 1877, Kochu Thirumeni, along with the other newly ordained Metropolitans, stayed at Vettickal Dayro, and observed a 40-day fast before assuming the responsibilities of their respective dioceses.
After his ordination as a Metropolitan, he established a number of churches and was instrumental in establishing a number of schools in different parts of Malankara. Mor Gregorios was a person who fully understood the value of education, and its importance for the progress of the Church and the society as a whole.
During late 1890's, under the initiative and guidance of Parumala Kochu Thirumeni and the
Malankara Metropolitan Pulikottil Joseph Mor Dionysius, The Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church started a number of educational institutions.
The St. Thomas School at Mulanthuruthy, St. Ignatius School at Kunnamkulam (named after his mentor the Patriarch PatrosIV) and the Syrian English School at Thiruvalla (now known as 'MGM High School'), are some of the well known schools established through the initiative of Parumala Thirumeni.
Thirumeni was very closely associated with various activities connected with the development of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church. He was highly admired for his organizing capacity and was very popular among the people.
After the demise of the Metropolitans of Thumpamon and Kollam dioceses (in 1884 and 1891), the administration of these dioceses also came under him. During 1887, the first block of the Parumala Seminary was opened.
Even during the midst of all his busy schedules, he gave utmost priority to prayers and fasting. He used to get up at 4 am for prayer, and strictly observe the church practice of prayers seven times a day. From his early child-hood, he had been observing all the Lents prescribed by the church.
Mor Gregorios was extremely keen on maintaining a cordial relationship with all section of people, irrespective of their caste or community. He always loved and cared for the poor and suffering. He was very particular about truthfulness and helping the poor. His took special interest in preaching the Holy Gospel among the backward communities, and as a result many accepted our faith. He also worked hard for the upliftment of the socially downtrodden people.
Thirumeni’s long desire to visit the Holy Land was fulfilled in 1895. During his pilgrimage, he stayed at the "Sehion Malika" (Monastery of St. Mark), which was the diocesan headquarters of the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan. He had the opportunity to visit almost all the important places of Christendom and even led the Passion Week services at the altars.
Conferring sainthood and Remembering MOR GREGORIOS in the 5th TUBDEN
The Holy Episcopal Synod of Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church, held on the 22 nd. August 1987, requested the Patriarch, to permit the name of Mor Gregorios to be included in the 5th 'TUBDEN', along with the other saints and Martyrs.
Accepting the request, His Holiness the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka-I Iwas issued the historical Bull dated 20th December 1987, authorizing the recitation of the name of Mor Gregorios of Malankara in the Fifth 'TUBDEN' (diptych) in all the Malankara churches worldwide.
This Bull was first read at the home parish of the Holy Father, at the Mulanthuruthy Mar Thoman Church. Thereafter the name of the Holy Father was recited in the 5th TUBDEN, along with the names of late Patriarch of Antioch Moran Mor Ignatius Elias III (Manjinikkara, 1932) and Maphryono Mor Baselios Yeldo (Kothamangalam, 1685) whose names were also included.
Quite a number of churches were built in the name of the Holy Father all over the world. Perhaps the churches and shrines , built by the Malankara Syrian Christians in recent times and named after ST. GREGORIOS, are next in number only to those bearing the names of Mother Mary and Geevarghese Sahdo.
Mor Gregorios who was a scholar in the Syriac language, was greatly fascinated by its beauty, melody; its glorious past and spiritual history. To him, the prayers forming the integral part of the Holy Qurbono had a real significance and relevance. This helped him remain steadfast in his
loyalty to the Apostolic See of Antioch founded by St. Peter. He was firm
in his convictions about the traditions and history built up by the Holy
Fathers listed in the 5th TUBDEN.
He had no doubts about the hierarchy of the Church as spelt out in the 1st Tubden, which gives a place of importance to Mor Ignatius, our Patriarch. His SALMUSA bears ample testimony to his unflinching loyalty to the Holy Throne. There can be no doubt as to what Thirumeni considered to be the essentials of the Syrian Christian belief, faith, tradition and culture.
Mor Gregorios is a saint who set the moral tone for his people during his time . He loved everyone, specially the poor and needy. If we consider a saint to be one who was totally dedicated to God, then Mor Gregorios Bava was one who faithfully followed his master, Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us Pray for the Intercession of this illustrious Saint of Malankara who passed away at the age of 54 on 2 nd. of November 1902.
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