(Headquarters of the Kottayam Diocese)

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 tenth century 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 at 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 near 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 diocesan bishop 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 soon under the presidentship of Mor Gregorios and officially approved the resolution to construct a church centre in memory of 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 Metropolitan Mor Gregorios, the diocesan secretary Rev. Fr. P P Joseph Pulickaparambil and Mr. P 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 Perunnal - annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary) by His Beatitude the Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Paulose II, assisted by Metropolitans Geevarghese Mor Gregorios, Kuriakose Mor Kurillos and Thomas Mor Theophilos. 


His Holiness the Patriarch's visit to the church

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 Corepiscopus.

Moran Mor 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, Mor Thimotheos Thomas the Archbishop of outside Kerala diocese was given the additional charge of the Kottayam diocese. After the  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

This 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 and 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

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.

Considering the 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 bishop's house.

Newly constructed St.Joseph's Cathedral & Bishop's house
(view of the Cathedral complex from east)




Photos of the Cathedral consecration ceremony held on 20th November 2005




  St.Joseph's Cathedral
  L.B.Sastri Road,
  Kottayam-686 001, Kerala, India.
  Phone:91-481-2304646, 2564499


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