St. Joseph's Cathedral, Kottayam
The St.Joseph's Cathedral, located at
Lal Bahadur Sastri Road,
Kottayam, is the spiritual center of the Jacobite Syrian Christians of
the Kottayam diocese. Founded in 1981 by Metropolitan Mor Gregorios (Perumpilly
Thirumeni), the diocesan headquarters consists of the church, Michael Mor
Dionysius Centre, Mor Gregorios parish hall, Mor Julius Book Stall and the Bishops house.
Syrian Christians of Kottayam
Kottayam is an ancient Syrian Christian centre in
the State of Kerala where the Church have a number of parishes and institutions. The
Syrian Jacobite church at Manarcad, which is one of the prominent pilgrimage centre in the
state, is situated 9 km east of Kottayam town.
In earlier days, the township of Kottayam was
mainly concentrated at Thazathagadi
(Lower Bazaar) and Puthenagady (New Bazaar), both situated very near to the
present Kottayam town. These were once the main commercial as well as the
residential areas of Kottayam and also the headquarters of the local Kings. It
is believed to be in the 15th or 16th century, that the Syrian Jacobite
Christians, who were predominantly merchants and farmers, migrated to this place
and since then they form the vast majority of its inhabitants.
The first Christian church (St.Mary's Valiya Pally)
in the region was established
Thazathagady by the Knanaya Syrian Jacobite Christians in AD 1555. Thirunakkara,
which subsequently became
the nerve centre of the present Kottayam town, was in the earlier days predominantly an Hindu
dominated area where an old temple exists to this day. It was only in the later
half of the 19th century did Thirunakkara and nearby areas gained
more prominence after it became one of the administrative centers of the
princely state of Travancore.
Inside view of the Cathedral
The first Syrian Jacobite church in the town of
Kottayam was established towards the end of 19th century. A few years later an
unfortunate schism started in the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church which
resulted in a major split. Though a vast majority of faithful and churches in places
Kottayam remained in the Syrian Jacobite faith, the separated group were more
influential in the town and this resulted in the Jacobites loosing their rights
over the old church. Since then the church members living in the town
wished to have a new worshipping centre, but the financial situation restrained
them from proceeding much in this direction. It was then the Kottayam
of the Church of South India came forward to help the Syrian Church on the request of our late
lamented Catholicos Aboon Mor
Baselios Paulose II who was in charge of the diocese. Thus from 1979
onwards the chapel at Baker School was permitted to be used by our Church where
the Holy Mass was celebrated on alternate Sundays; this temporary arrangement
continued for about 2 years.
Perumpilly Thirumeni & the
establishment of the new Diocesan headquarters
In 1980 the Holy Synod appointed H.G. Geevarghese Mor
Gregorios (Perumpilly Thirumeni) as the assistant Metropolitan of the diocese.
On 19th June, 1980 the 'Sunthroniso' of the new bishop was held at the
St.Mary's church, Panampady. On that occasion His Beatitude the
Catholicos, who presided over the ceremony, expressed his desire to start a centre
for the diocese without any further delay. A diocesan assembly was convened
the presidentship of Mor Gregorios and officially approved the resolution to construct a church centre in
Michael Mor Dionysius, the former Metropolitan of Kottayam and southern dioceses.
Consequently on 13th January
1981, 40 cents of land at Shastri Road was bought in the joint names of
Gregorios, the diocesan secretary Rev. Fr. P P Joseph Pulickaparambil and
T Abraham Kaduvumbhagam on behalf of the Jacobite Syrian Christian community of
Kottayam diocese. The foundation stone of the proposed centre was blessed by H.B.
Catholicos Baselios Paulose II on 18th January, the day being the 25th death anniversary of late lamented Metropolitan Michael
Mor Dionysius. A temporary chapel was consecrated here on 25th March 1981 (the
day of Vachanippu
to the Holy Virgin Mary) by His Beatitude the Catholicos Aboon
Paulose II, assisted by Metropolitans Geevarghese Mor Gregorios,
Kuriakose Mor Kurillos and
Thomas Mor Theophilos.
His Holiness the Patriarch's visit to the
The first apostolic visit of the
Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I to India in 1982 was a landmark event in the history
of the Malankara Church. During this visit, H.H the Patriarch, who is the
supreme pontiff of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the
East, came to this church on 20th February 1982. On that eventful
occasion a very large number of faithful assembled at the church premises to
have a glimpse of their beloved spiritual leader. The very next day, H.H the
Patriarch celebrated Holy Qurbono in the chapel. The divine ceremony concluded with the elevation
of Rev. Fr. K
P Thomas Kallumkathara and Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Venkadath, the two senior most priests of the Kottayam diocese as
Ignatius Zakka I, the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East celebrating
the Holy Qurbono at the St. Joseph's Cathedral on 21st February 1982
It was during this
visit of the Patriarch to Malankara, the Holy Episcopal Synod took
the decision to appoint a full time Metropolitan for the Kottayam diocese. H.G.
Geevarghese Mor Gregorios, who was till then the Assistant Metropolitan, was
given the independent charge of the diocese. Under the dynamic leadership and
guidance of Mor Gregorios (Perumpilly Thirumeni) the construction work of the two storied Cathedral
complex was finished in the next few years. On final completion of the
structure, the church was shifted to the upper floor and the ground floor was
converted as the parish hall named after Michael Mor Dionysius Metropolitan. In
the subsequent years the church has grown from strength to strength under the
spiritual guidance of Very Rev. P P Joseph Corepiscopo Pulikaparambil (late),
Very Rev. Kuriakose Corepiscopo Moolyail and Very Rev. Abraham Corepiscopo Thadathil
(late), the former diocesan secretaries.
H.G. Thomas Mor Thimotheos, the new Diocesan
Metropolitan from 1999
In 1999 when H.G. Mor Gregorios Geevarghese (Perumpilly) fell ill,
Thomas the Archbishop of outside Kerala diocese was given the additional charge of the Kottayam diocese. After
passing away of Perumpilly Thirumeni on 22 February 1999, the full responsibility
of the diocese was
entrusted to Mor Thimotheos by the Malankara Episcopal Synod. His Grace
hails from the Muriyankal family of Veloor, Kottayam.
(Click here for the
biography of the Metropolitan).
The Metropolitan who is
very active in ecumenical fellowships is presently the President of the Kerala
Auxiliary of the Bible Society of India. Recently His Grace has also been
elected as the vice-president of the National Council of Christian Churches in
India (NCCI). Very Rev. Kuriakose Corepiscopo Kizhakedathu, who is one of the senior priests of
the Manarcad St.Mary's church, is the present diocesan secretary and the vicar
in charge of
the St.Joseph's Cathedral and Fr. Cherian Kottayil is the Assistant Vicar.
Annual feasts celebrated in the Cathedral
Cathedral at Kottayam is
the only church of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox
Christians established in the name of St. Joseph.
It was late Perumpilly Mor Gregorios Thirumeni who proposed to dedicate the church in the name of St.Joseph. The main festival
celebrated in the
church is the feast of St.Joseph on 26th January which is also observed as its
foundation day. The feast days of St. Ignatius Elias III,
St. Gregorios of
Parumala, Catholicose Baselios Paulose II Bava,
Mor Dionysius Michael Thirumeni
Mor Gregorios (Perumpilly Thirumeni) are also celebrated here with great
importance. Holy Qurbono is
offered in the cathedral on all Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7 am.
Diocesan Activities and the Cathedral
activities are governed by a body headed by the diocesan secretary who is
elected from the general council of the diocese. The cathedral
does not have any separate parish
membership of its
own. Since its inception the Sunday School
classes are held regularly
in the church. Pre-Marriage counseling classes which has become compulsory since
2002 in the diocese are being convened here every month. The special Prayer meetings that
started in 2000 in the church on every Tuesdays, is attended by a great number of faithful including those
from other denominations. Various spiritual organizations like the 'Jacobite Syrian Christian Youth Association' and the
'Morth Mariam Vanitha Samajam' are also very active
in the diocese. 'Krupa Ministry',
an organization of the
diocese to help the poor and needy, and the 'Syrian Melodies', the choir
group of the Syrian Orthodox Christians of the Kottayam diocese are also
functioning from here under the patronage of the diocesan Metropolitan.
increasing need for space for various activities, the diocesan council in 2003
decided to reconstruct the headquarter complex; accordingly the reconstruction
works began in the same year. About a year later, on Sunday 20th November 2005,
the new Cathedral complex was consecrated in a ceremony presided over by H.B.
Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I and assisted by the Metropolitans of Church.
The new diocesan headquarters consists of a beautiful church built in the 1st
floor, two parish halls named after former Metropolitans of the diocese Mor
Dionysius Michael and Mor Gregorios Geevargheese, a book stall named after Mor
Julius Elias (former Patriarchal delegate), the diocesan office and the
constructed St.Joseph's Cathedral & Bishop's house
the Cathedral complex from east)
Photos of the Cathedral consecration ceremony held
on 20th November 2005
Kottayam-686 001, Kerala, India.
This is not an
official site of the St. Joseph's Cathedral, Kottayam