Biography



At the turn of the 20th century, there lived a holy man on a haunted island, called Parumala, on the banks of River Pampa in Kerala, India. He was the prophet of his time, who set moral tone for his people. Powerful like Prophet Elijah and glittering like John the Baptist, he remains the beacon and a great Saint of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
It was on June 15, 1848, that Kochu Ipeora was born as the youngest child in Chathuruthy family, Mulamthuruthy, Kerala. His parents Kochu Mathai and Mariam had three sons and two daughters. He was christened as 'GEEVARGHESE', at his home parish, the Mulanthuruthy Marthomman Church. About two years after his birth, mother Mariam died. Thereafter his elder sister Mariam took care of his upbringing with love and affection.

Young Kochu Iypora started his formal education, at the age of five, under 'Onakkavil Ayya', a local Hindu (Ezhava) teacher. He also studied in a traditional village School (Mammoottil ManiAsan's kalari). The young Ipeora was not very much interested in worldly pleasures or the gaieties of life, but was more inclined to Prayer, reading the Holy Bible and listening to the stories of saints. He carefully observed ‘fasting’ even from his young days. He was a model for his friends in showing his respect to his teachers, humility, obedience and love. Fr. Geevarghese, Kochu Ipeora's uncle, noticed his studious nature, noble character, keen and penetrating insight, sharp intellect and a wonderful memory undertook his coaching. The boy studied theology and Syriac, from his uncle who was an authority in it. At this young age itself, many observed a spiritual ability and intelligence in Kochu Iypora and he was able to sing Syriac hymns of the Church in proper rhythm and diction.

Proper guidance given by Fr. Geevarghese influenced young Geevarghese, increased his interest in the Holy Church and its traditions and helped young Kochu Ipeora to lead a pious life. After the early days of education under teacher (Malpan) Geevarghese of Chathuruthy, Kochu Ipeora was ordained as deacon (Kooroyo) at the age of 10, on September 14, 1858, by Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasius, the then Malankara Metropolitan.

One day Malpan became seriously ill with smallpox. Deacon Geevarghese was the only one who stayed and took care of him, while all others were sent home. On the eight day Malpan died and deacon became ill. During this time he had a vision of St. Mary in his dream, descending to console him, and exhorting him to dedicate the rest of his life to the Lord. He pledged "He would". This was a heavenly vision that enabled him, to become a humble servant of God. Very soon the deacon recovered, but with a firm resolution to spend his life in prayer and monastic discipline. He then became a student of Konaattu Malpan and learned cannon Law, Faith, Order and customs.

During this time Yuyakkim Mar Koorilose, from Syria visited India. Bishop Koorilose was very much impressed by Deacon Geevarghese’s wisdom, devotion and command in Syriac language. The deacon traveled with Mar Koorilose as his translator and guide. Mar Koorilose ordained deacon Geevarghese as a full deacon 'Shamshono'. In October 1865, at the age of 18, Yuyakkim Mar Koorilose, elevated Deacon Geevarghese to the order of full Priest (Kassisso) and later 'Cor-Episcopa'.

Geevarghese Cor Episcopa was much impressed by the monastic traditions and decided to be a follower of Christ in the monastic tradition of St. Anthony, a third century monk. He chose Vettickal Dayara as his abode, where he could live the monastic life of abstinence, discipline, devotion, practicing fasting, prayer, meditation and mortification. All this slowly started to sanctify his life. People living around Vettickal were immensely impressed by the strict ascetic discipline and this monk became a great inspiration to them They started to visit him to seek advice and guidance. His name and fame started to spread.

Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysios raised him to the order of monks (Ramban) in April 7, 1872.

The Ramban became a close aide of the Patriarch of Antioch, H. H. Ignatius Patriarch III, during the latter’s visit to Indian. The Patriarch consecrated four metropolitans at the St. Thomas Church Paravoor, Kerala on December 10, 1876. The young Chathruthy Geevarghese Ramban, was named Mar Gregorios, after the title of the Metropolitan of Jerusalem. The same year the Patriarch had consecrated six Metropolitans. The 29-year-old Mar Gregorios was the youngest of them and so everybody called him lovingly as "Kochu Thirumeni" (youngest bishop). Mar Gregorios was appointed the bishop of Niranam, Kerala. He later on took charge of the Dioceses of Thumpamon and Kollam. He then started to stay at Parumala and came to be known as “Parumala Kochu Thirumeni”. He constructed a Church and a seminary at Parumala.

At Parumala Seminary he led an austere life. He woke up at 4am in the morning and prayed till 5am. He taught deacons till 7am followed by prayer and his light breakfast. From 9am till 11am he taught deacons again. From 11am to noon he took care of administrative matters and again went to prayer at noon and then to 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 bible to the deacons. After the complining, at 9pm he would let the deacons go to bed, but he would still be praying until midnight. On Wednesdays and Fridays and Lenten days, he would fast till evening. Besides, he observed his own special fasts. People came from far and near to seek his blessings and paternal advises.

In his own words "Prayer brings truth, religious faith, honesty and respect among the people."

Parumala Thirumeni's visit to the Holy Land in 1895 was a great event of the time and a fulfillment of his long-standing wish. Parumala Thirumeni later published a travelogue ("Yerusalaem Yatra Vivaranam") about his visit to the Holy Land. This book is considered to be an excellent travelogue. After his piligrimage Thirumeni ordained two of his disciples as deacons, who later on rose to high positions in the Church.

Last few days of Thirumeni

Kochu Thirumeni's body was becoming weaker and weaker, and around five days before his death, he called one of his chief disciples, Wattasseril Fr.Geevarghese by the bed side and entrusted him with the keys and other documents. His Grace then told his esteemed colleagues that he will leave this world within a few days. Then for a couple of days he lay speechless. On the third day towards midnight he asked those standing nearby " What is the date today ?". Eighteenth (Malayalam era) they said. "My Lord I must endure this pain for two more days", sighed His Grace. Holy Father actually new even the date of his death. Two days after, on Sunday the 20th (2nd November,1902), "Kantheela"{-Syriac word for the Holy Sacrament of the sick} was celebrated for Thirumeni. At around midnight the same day, Thirumeni in a feeble voice said "Ente Karthave" (Oh My Lord !!!) . Punnoose Ramban and other priests standing nearby, had the Prayers then and suddenly the Great Saint of Malankara left this world submitting his soul to his Father, the God. Eye witnesses testify that they saw a bright light as he lay breathing his last.

The growing flow of pilgrims to his tomb, several years after his demise, tells a story of a man of faith, prayer, healing, and great intercession.



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