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St. Gregorios of Parumala

On November 2nd, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church celebrates St. Gregorios of Parumala. To learn more about the life and contributions of Parumala Thirumeni, please watch this video which is part of "the Faith Series" brought to you by MGOCSM North America.

Narrated by: His Grace Alexios Mar Eusebios

Script Writers: Danny Skariah, Manoj Varghese, Rev. Dn. Vijay Thomas, His Grace Alexios Mar Eusebius

Video Editor: Manoj Varghese


Biography Summary of PARUMALA THIRUMENI

St. Gregorios Geevarghese, popularly known as "PARUMALA THIRUMENI", was born in the distinguished priestly family of 'Pallathattu Thanagattu' in the village of Mulunthuruthy near Cochin, India on 15th June 1848.  He was baptized by the name Geevarghese (George) at the Mulanthuruthy Mar Thomas Church. Geevarghese’s mother died when he was a small boy, and since that time, he was under the loving care of his elder sister Mariam.  From childhood days he followed a much disciplined life which was enriched by prayer and fasting.  

St. Gregorios was blessed with the order of editor at the tender age of ten by Palakunnath Mathews Mor Athanasius.  At the age of 18, he was ordained deacon by Yuyakim Mor Koorilos, the high bishop to Malankara. The very next month deacon Geevarghese was ordained as priest and later Corepiscopa (Archpriest), again at the blessed hands of Yuyakim Mor Koorilos. Later he settled at the Vettickal monastery near Mulunthuruthy where he led a very strict monastic life.  In 1872 he was professed a Ramban (Monk-Priest) by Mor Dionysius V Pulikottil. 

During this period in time, the protestant missionary activities, aided by the British Government, were at their heights.  These missionary groups and their supporters created all sort of hardships for the Syrian Church and its hierarchy.  The patriarchal delegates were deported from the states of Travancore and Kochi. The Indian metropolitans were not allowed to enter the churches. Priests who opposed these missionaries were arrested and jailed (Church history by E M Philip).  Many Syrian Christian churches were either taken over or closed by the government. To bring an end to this extraordinary situation, the faithful in Malankara came together under the leadership of Ramban Geevarghese Chathuruthy and organised a general body of Malankara Church on 8th September 1873 at Parumala. 

Accordingly His Holiness Ignatius Peter IV (also referred as 'Pathros III' in many Malankara records), the Patriarch of the Apostolic See of Antioch, arrived in Malankara in June 1875. Ramban Geevarghese who was well versed in Syriac was appointed as the interpreter to the Patriarch.  The Patriarch, who was greatly impressed with the young Ramban, chose him also as his private secretary.  When the historic Mulunthuruthy Synod was convened in the month of June 1876, the assistance of Ramban Geevarghese was of much help to His Holiness. The Patriarch's esteem of the Ramban grew so high that His Holiness decided to elevate him to the order of Metropolitan.

On 10th December 1876, H.H. the Patriarch ordained Ramban Geevarghese a Metropolitan by name 'Gregorios' at the North Paravur St. Thomas Church. 

After the death of the Patriarch in 1877, at the behest of the saint Gregorios, all the newly ordained Metropolitans observed a 40 day fasting staying at the Vettickal monastery before assuming the responsibilities of their respective dioceses. In his bishopric, he established various churches, and was the motivator in the establishment of schools in different parts of Malankara. Mor Gregorios was a man who grasped the value of Education for the overall progress of the Church as well as the society in general. In late 1890's, many educational institutions were started by the Church under the initiative and guidance of  the bishop of Parumala and Malankara Metropolitan Pulikottil Joseph Mor Dionysius. The St. Thomas School at Mulanthuruthy, St. Ignatius School at Kunnamkulam, the Syrian English School at Thiruvalla (now known as 'MGM High School'), etc., were some of the well known schools established at the behest of the saint Mor Gregorios. 

He was very much admired for his organizational ability, and he was very popular with the masses. Following the demise of the respective Metropolitans of Thumpamon and Kollam dioceses (in 1884 and 1891), the administration of these dioceses also fell under his leadership.  In 1887, the first block of the Parumala Seminary was opened and in January 1895, just before his historic visit to Jerusalem, he along with Malankara Metropolitan Mor Dionysius V Pulikottil consecrated the St. Peter's church (seminary church) at Parumala.

While staying at Parumala Seminary, Mor Gregorios taught Syriac to deacons.  His ability to tack Syriac hymns was exceptional, a talent he developed through his close association with the Syrian Metropolitan St. Yuyakim Mor Koorilos.  Even in the midst of all the busy schedules he gave utmost priority to prayers and fasting.   He used to get up at 4 am for prayer and strictly followed the church practise of prayers seven times a day.  Observing all the Church Lents, including the fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays was a regular affair from his child-hood days. Mor Gregorios was very keen in maintaining a relationship with all classes of people, irrespective of caste or community. He always showed love and cared for the poor and those who were suffering.  He was very particular for the truthfulness and helping the poor. His Grace took special interest in preaching the Holy Gospel of Our Lord among the backward communities, and many were accepted into our fold.  He also worked hard to uplift this marginalized people.

His Grace's long standing desire to visit the Holy Land was fulfilled in 1895, nineteen years after his ordination as Metropolitan.  During his pilgrimage, he stayed at the Monastery of St. Mark which was the diocesan headquarters of the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan. During his stay there, H.G. visited almost all the important places of Christendom and led the Passion Week services at the altars of our Syrian Church in the Holy City. On his return, His Grace collected a certain amount of money from all the Parishes in Malankara and sent a Silver Cross as offering to the Holy church in Jerusalem. 

At the age of 54 the holy bishop became seriously sick.  He knew that his end was near.  While the Metropolitans and priests and others were praying, he uttered, "MY LORD" and closed his eyes. He passed away on Monday, the 3rd November, 1902 and his mortal remains were laid to rest the next day (4th November) at the St. Peter Church Parumala.



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