Saint Gregorios of Parumala - Smiocbristol
St. Geevarghese Mar Gregorios, also more commonly known as Parumala Thirumeni, was and still is to this very day, one of the only two canonized Church Fathers whom we commemorate. He was known to be a man of prayer, determination and dynamism. Parumala Kochuthirumeni was declared as the first saint by the then Catholicos H.H. Baselios Geevarghese II. His life should be a great example for all of us as through his numerous facets, he made it clear to the world that prayer and devotion are mightier than any worldly possession and, as a result, endeared himself as one of the greatest fathers of the Indian Orthodox Church. He shines in the cloud of witnesses as a bright luminary giving rays of hope to millions in their suffering and struggles. Let’s take a closer look at his exemplary life from childhood onwards. Mar Gregorios was born on June 15, 1848, to Kochu Mathai and Mariam of the Pallathetta family in Mulamthuruthy. At a young age ‘Kochaipora’, the name he was called by, lost his mother and grew up in the loving care of his father and his sister Mariam. Thirumeni never cared for costly clothes, ornaments, games unlike the other children around him. His distinguishing feature was that he preferred to dress simply and showed great interest in prayer, Bible reading, and listening to the life of saints. From childhood days he followed a very disciplined life which was enriched by prayer and fasting. As he did not come from a privileged family, ‘Kochaipora’ began his education in the traditional village school. Even as a child, he was a model to his friends in showing respect to his teachers, humility, obedience and love.Additionally, Thirumeni was also very intelligent and hardworking and very much enjoyed helping others around him. Rev. Fr. Geevarghese, Malpan of the Chathuruthy family, was the uncle of Geevarghese. The Malpan noticed Geevarghese’s outstanding and divine qualities and decided to teach the boy Syriac. He did not realise that this would be the beginning of his spiritual life that was to follow. His great interest in the Church allowed him to become ordained as a reader-deacon (Korooyo) on September 14, 1858, at the age of 10 by H.G Mathews Mar Athanasios. Korooyo Geevarghese continued learning and understanding more about monasticism and theology from Geevarghese Malpan. Unfortunately, Geevarghese Malpan died which left the young Geevarghese to feel all by himself in his studies. However, it was at this time that Mar Coorilos had great admiration for the deacon and took the initiative to ordain him as a full deacon, priest, and cor-episcopa within a matter of few months in 1865. During the year 1875, the Antioch Patriarch H.H. Peter III visited Malankara. The Patriarch needed a secretary and translator during the entire visit. Ramban Geevarghese was the one he chose to take on these responsibilities. He proved to the patriarch his great attributes of prayer and communication and therefore the Patriarch favoured the Ramban very much. Rambam Geevarghese accompanied the Patriarch in the historic synod of Mulanthuruthy in 1876, as well as the consecration of the Holy Mooron. After their journeys together, the Patriarch was very pleased with Ramban Geevarghese and decided to consecrate six priests as bishops including the Ramban. His new name was Geevarghese Mar Gregorios and he was entrusted with the charge of Niranam Diocese. Mar Gregorios was consecrated as a bishop at the age of 28, making him the youngest amongst all bishops, and therefore is referred to as ‘Kochu Thirumeni’. Prayer was a key aspect of Thirumeni’s life, and it was the strength of prayer that gave him the courage to overcome the obstacles he faced in his ministry. The saint exhorted that along with common prayers, believers should also share their devotions when praying to strengthen the bond they have with God. Parumala Thirumeni was a sole believer in the fact that it was sin that separates man away from God. To overcome satanic temptation, we need the grace of God which can be received from prayer, lent and fasting. However, Thirumeni believed that mere ritual observations were not enough. He firmly believed that to be in communion with God, we would need a pure heart. He taught “Those who pray daily will not become untruthful, unrighteous, unbelievable, unloving, and ungodly.
Prayer is a joy for a childhood, consolation for youth, and happiness in old age” (Bhakta Vachanam).Some of the contributions of Parumala Thirumeni include; nurturing the church, sharing the gospel to non-Christians, being a great teacher and being a great Intercessor.Towards the end of his life, Thirumeni became a chronic haemorrhoids patient. Unfortunately, the treatments and medicines provided were not working and His Grace became physically and mentally weaker. The blessed soul of H.G Geevarghese Mar Gregorios entered the heavenly abode on November 2, 1902. The funeral was conducted at Parumala in the presence of thousands of people and hundreds of priests on Tuesday, November 3, 1902. In 1947 Mar Gregorios was declared a saint due to his numerous contributions to the church, and the prayerful life he led. Thirumeni’s tomb at Parumala Church is still to this day a centre of pilgrimage for all believers, because of the many testimonies to the saintly intercession of Mar Gregorios. Mar Gregorios was an impeccable spiritual person with no pretensions of his spiritual life. A man who endured a tough upbringing and still prevailed shows us what kind of a man he was and what a great example he is to all of us. The numerous parts of his wondrous personality showed us his faith and trust in God through every crisis he faced. He loved everybody, especially the poor and needy. Thirumeni considered the essentials of a Syrian Christian to be its faith, belief and tradition which we follow to this day. Malankara Church shall never forget this Saint of Malankara. Let us Pray for the Intercession of this illustrious father of Malankara.
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