The renovated St Mary’s Syrian Orthodox Cathedral, Brahmavar was declared as a pilgrim centre by Catholicos His Holiness Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, on the second day of the consecration of the Cathedral on Friday January 12.
Cathedral: A Pilgrim Centre
St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar houses the relics of Blessed Alvares Mar Julius and tomb of Blessed R Z Noronha, who were declared as regional saints (Blessed) in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Padre Antonio Francisco Xavier Alvares (later known as Archbishop Alvares Mar Julius) and Padre Roque Zephrino Noronha, two founder Charismatic Saintly leaders of Brahmavar Orthodox Community were rigorous in their piety, poverty and patriotism. Their life is marked with service to downtrodden, sick and poor and a continuous fight against colonialists. Both had to face excommunication and severe persecution. Padre Alvares was even jailed, beaten and made to roam nude on streets of Panjim. Yet, they continued to empower the common people, through journalism, education and health care.
Blessed Alvares Mar Julius
Born on 29th April 1836 in Goa, Blessed Alvares Mar Julius was ordained as priest in 1869. As a priest and a staunch freedom fighter of Goa, the eminent personality, Padre Alvares, served in his land for spiritual and social upliftment of his countrymen for a span of eighteen years during 1869-1887. His philanthropy, patriotism and yearning for freedom from foreign Portuguese yoke, journalistic acumen and his aristocratic birth had won a good number of followers for him in Goa and South Canara. Padre Alvares left to Brahmawar in 1887 to lead the Independent Catholic Mission.
On 29 July 1889, Padre Alvares was consecrated as a Archbishop of India (excluding Malabar), Goa and Ceylon with the title Alvares Mar Julius at the Old Seminary, Kottayam. Being the Archbishop, he travelled far and wide. He also consecrated Rene Villate to Bishophood to serve in Europe and America. As the Archbishop, he fought firmly for retaining the autonomous status of the Malankara Church, which was constantly under attack from colonialists and others. In early 1900s he returned to Goa and spent the rest of his life collecting food for the beggars of Panjim and taking care of the sick and destitute. Blessed Alvares entered eternal abode on 23rd September, 1923 at Ribandar, Panji, Goa.
During his lifetime he was known as educator, social worker, apostle of charity and patriot. Posthumously, he came to be known more as martyr and saint. With time, more and more miracles were testified through his intercession. In 2013, the Catholicos His Holiness Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II (Supreme Head, Malankara Orthodox Church) raised him to status of regional saint (Blessed) at Panjim, St. Mary’s Church where his mortal remains are entombed.
Blessed Roque Zeferino Noronha
Fr Roque Zeferino Noronhawas born on 20th Oct 1850 was ordained as priest in Goa. Padre Noronha was greatly influenced by his mentor Blessed Alvares and joined together with him in the mission. It is he who laid strong foundation of ‘Orthodox Faith’ in the coastal belt of Udupi. It was Padre Noronha who built the first Church building of St Mary’s Cathedral, Brahmavar. He was a good educationist and with an aim of providing education to the poor and needy, he founded the Cosmopolitan Higher Primary School in the year 1916, which later blossomed into seven more educational institutions.
Right from the time he settled in Brahmavar, the place turned into holy and historical pilgrimage centre. Padre Noronha was also known for his medication, which he gave free of cost to people of all caste, creed and religion. During his lifetime itself he was known as saint for the amount of healings and miracles that happened through him. A couple of months before his death, a cross had appeared on his back.
Thousands who gather every year at his tomb in St Mary’s cathedral, Brahmavar are witness to his miraculous powers. In 2015, the Catholicos His Holiness Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II (Supreme Head, Malankara Orthodox Church) raised him to status of regional saint (Blessed).
Consecration News in Detail
January 11th, 2018 : Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II on Thursday January 11 inaugurated the renovated St Mary’s Syrian Orthodox Cathedral, Brahmavar and led the first part of the consecration. Prior to the consecration, a grand ‘hore kanike’ (offering of fruits, vegetables, rice etc. for the feast) procession was held from Akashavani circle to the cathedral, flagged off by His Grace Yakob Mar Elias, bishop, Brahmvar diocese. Devotees from various churches, and local organizations of different communities brought offerings in decorated vehicles. The procession was accompanied by tableaux, chande, music, brass band, huli vesha and various folk troupes.
The hore kanike was received by His Grace Joseph Mar Dionysius, Calcutta bishop and His Grace Yakob Mar Elias, bishop of Brahmavar diocese, along with vicar Fr C A Isaac, Fr Yuhanon Mulamoottil Cor Episcopa and Fr Joseph Thaliamparambil Cor Episcopa at the church premises.
The primate of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan was welcomed in a procession by the people gathered. In his message, Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II said, “I am glad to say that this church has been built and decorated well and made an abode of the Almighty.” Narrating instances from the Old Testament, he said, “We are the temples of God. He stays in us. We have to keep ourselves pure. Let us not fight with each other, insteadlet us be true followers of God.
“We may say that this church belongs to us but let us remember this place will be part of the Orthodox Church and the keys of the church will be handed over to the bishop, and he will hand over the keys to the vicar, who in turn will give the authority to the people to use the church. Let us make this place a sacred one.”
His Grace Geevarghese Mor Coorilose, Metropolitan, diocese of Bombay, His Grace Joseph Mar Dionysius, Metropolitan, diocese of Kolkota, His Grace Geevarghese Mar Yulios, Metropolitan, diocese of Ahmedabad and His Grace Abraham Mar Seraphim, Metropolitan, diocese of Bengaluru and priests from different dioceses were present for the historical event.
Vicar Fr CA Isaac welcomed the gathering. Sea of devotees of more than 6000 thronged the Cathedral to witness the historical event. Soon after the prayer service a fellowship meal was serviced to all the devotees. Keys of the Cathedral were handed over by Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II to His Grace Yakob Mar Elias, bishop, Brahmavar diocese who then handed them over to Anil Rodrigues, trustee. Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II led the 1st part of the consceration involving the blessing of the stone which is laid in the heart of the Altar’s base, signifying Christ the cornerstone of the Church. Dinner was served to all.
January 12th, 2018 : The morning prayers started at 6:00 am followed by consecration prayers and thereafter Eucharistic celebration. The consecration involved the anointing (applying) of Holy Myron oil to the altar and blessing the doors of the church with the sign of cross.
After the consecration, the Triune Altar Holy Mass was celebrated. Catholicos Paulose II offered holy mass on the central altar, while Mar Coorilos and Mar Dionysius offered the same on side altars. During the holy mass, Dr His Grace Geevarghese Mar Yulios, Metropolitan, diocese of Ahmedabad and Dr. His Grace Abraham Mar Seraphim, Metropolitan, diocese of Bengaluru were present.
Soon after the mass addressing the gathering Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II said, “All of you have given wholehearted support in building this beautiful church. You have donated part of your savings to this church. May God bless you all! I’m overwhelmed to bless this church. It is a pride to Orthodox community. ‘Regional Saints’ bishop Alvares Mar Julius and Fr R Z Noronha from this region have blessed all of us. With their grace, we have been able to complete this church. Along with the church authorities let us extend our helping hand to the needy. It will be my pleasure to extend a helping hand to this church in future.” He also congratulated the priest of the church for his service towards the church and making the consecration event successful.
It was a gleeful moment for the gathering when Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II proclaimed St Mary’s Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar as a pilgrimage centre. Soon after the consecration a public meet was held in the church premises. The public meet was inaugurated by lighting the lamp by the dignitaries present on the dais. After inaugurating the program by lighting the lamp, in his public address Catholicos His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II said, “This church has been built well. It is a proud moment for Brahmavar Orthodox Christians. A church is a place of worship. Despite of caste, creed and religion all of us gather here and seek the blessings of God. It is the place we talk to god and obtain peace of mind. I have proclaimed this place as a pilgrim centre and pray that people may find relief from their worries and problems in this place.”
He presented a small gift to vicar CA Isaac as token of love for his service towards the church. Haji K Ismail Navoonda Musliyar Mohmadiya Jumma Masjid, Akalbail, Kirimanjeshwara speaking on the occasion said, “A beautiful church has been built in Brahmavar beside the National Highway so that local people in this area may seek God’s grace. Being a priest of a community we have to set an example for coming generation. God is one but called in different names and worshipped in different ways. Let us not be parted in the name of religion and let our faith in God become stronger.”
Later the church report was read out by Alan Rohan Vaz, convener of the renovation committee. The cover page of souvenir was released by home minister Ramalinga Reddy. Later addressing the gathering he said, “I congratulate everyone on the occasion of inauguration of renovated church. Along with this church, we have so many other churches in the state which has an age old history. Christianity is the third minority population in nation. Christian missionaries are the guiding lights to all. They have given their selfless service in education, health and social service. Christians are known for discipline and patriotism. I feel happy to say that Christians are leading in the path of Jesus Christ. Finally I thank you for giving me an opportunity to be a part of this event.”
Minister for youth affairs and sports, fisheries and district in-charge of Udupi, Pramodh Madhwaraj said, “This day has been written in golden words in the Christian community history. Our government has given all the needed support to the church. We have released 50 lac fund to this church from the government. Syrian Orthodox Christians are very near to me as I reside in the place beside their church. They are peace loving people. They have provided education facility to the children in and around Brahmavar from KG to PG. On this occasion I congratulate the people and being a minister I extend full support for the development in future.”
Fr CA Isaac, vicar general, St, Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Alan Rohan Vaz, convener of renovation committee, Anil Rodrigues, Trustee St, Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Wilson Lewis, Secretary, St, Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Ivan Donath Suares, secretary, renovation committee were felicitated by the ministers. Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo, bishop of Udupi diocese in his address said, “I congratulate all the Orthodox faithful on this happy occasion. St Mary’s Cathedral looks like a bride today. In our Indian tradition, place of worship is always a special one. People offer their prayer to God and in return God blesses them abundantly. A place of worship helps to build the relationship between us and the almighty. God lives in us and knows our needs. I thank this community for the opportunity given to me to be of the part of the program.”
His Grace Yakob Mar Elias, bishop, Brahmavar diocese presided the programme. Workers who had worked to build the church were honoured. His Grace Dr Geevarghese Mar Coorilose Bishop, Diocese of Bombay, His Grace Joseph Mar Dionysius, Calcutta bishop, Fr Dr M O John, priest trustee, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Association, Ivan D’Souza, MLC and chief whip of the state Legislative Council, Navin Nayak, Varambally Panchayat President. Assistant Vicars Fr. Lawrence Dsouza, Fr. David Crasta, Fr. Abraham Kuriakose, Fr. Noel Lewis and Fr. Joseph Chacko were present. Fr C A Isaac welcomed the gathering and Anil Rodrigues proposed the vote of thanks. Soon after the public meet a sumptuous lunch was served to the devotees. The devotees continued to throng to the Church till late night numbering more than 10,000.