Mar Gregorios | St. Gregorios of Parumala
Saint Geevarghese Mar Gregorios, popularly known as Parumala Thirumeni or Kochu Thirumeni has been recognized for having an exceptional degree of holiness, sanctity, and virtue. Thirumeni is the most prominent Saints of the Oriental orthodox Churches in India. Thousands of people receive favors and blessings through his intercession and there are hundreds of instances that proved his Saintliness.
Early life of St. Gregorios of Parumala
Parumala Thirumeni was born on 15 June 1848 in Chathuruthy family, Mulanthuruthy, Kerala, India as the fifth child of Kochu Mathai and Mariam. Thirumeni’s nickname was Ipeora. After the birth of Ipeora, his mother Mariam died.
Ordination of Parumala Thirumeni
Thirumeni’s early religious education was under Malpan Geevarghese of Chathuruthy. Ipeora was ordained as a deacon on September 14, 1859, at the age of ten by Palakkunnathu Mar Athanasius and was re-ordained in 1864 at Karingachira.
In 1865, at the age of 18, he was ordained as a priest. Joseph Mor Dionysios raised him to the order of monks (Ramban) in 1872. The Patriarch of Antioch HH. Moran Mor Ignatius Peter IV consecrated four metropolitans at Paravoor Jacobite Church, Kerala in 10 December 1876. The youngest among them was Geevarghese Ramban who was named Mor Gregorios. Because of his age everybody called him “Kochu Thirumeni” (Young Bishop). Mar Gregorios served as Secretary and translator of H.H. Patriarch Ignatius Peter IV and witnessed the historic Mulanthuruthy Synod resolution of 1876 signed between Syrian Orthodox Church in India and Holy throne of Antioch and All the East. Mar Gregorios was appointed the bishop of Niranam, Kerala. He started a monastery at Parumala, Kerala, India.
Lifestyle of Mar Gregorios
St. Gregorios led an ascetic life. People came from far and near to seek his blessings and paternal advice. He woke up at four in the morning and prayed till 5am. Thirumeni taught deacons till 7am followed by prayer and a light breakfast. From 9am till 11am he taught deacons again. From 11am to noon he took care of administrative matters and again went to pray at noon, followed by 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 the Bible to the deacons. After the prayer session, he would let the deacons go to bed at 9pm, but he would still be praying until mid-night. On Wednesdays and Fridays and Lenten days, he would fast till evening besides observing his own special fasts. In his own words “Prayer brings truth, religious faith, honesty and respect among the people.” Parumala Thirumeni did not let all the responsibilities of teaching, administration, and scholarly pursuits detract him from his true calling, to serve fellow human beings. When a smallpox epidemic (a near fatal disease at the time) struck Thumpamon and surrounding areas, Thirumeni personally visited every home that had been affected, over protests from many loved ones, to pray for and comfort the sick regardless of their caste or creed. His faith and his actions garnered him a lot of support not only from within the Malankara Church but the entire Indian community.
Last moments of Saint Gregorios
Parumala Thirumeni suffered with severe form of piles as he approached the last days of his life. About 3 months before his death, Thirumeni’s illness became very serious. Even though some Ayurvedic treatments were done, his health condition didn’t improved. Thirumeni’s body was becoming weaker and weaker, and around five days before his death, he called one of his chief disciples, Vattasseril Geevarghese Malpan by the bed side and entrusted him with the keys and other documents. Thirumeni 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 month) 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” was celebrated for Thirumeni. At around midnight the same day, Thirumeni in a feeble voice said “Ente Karthave” (Oh My Lord). Eye witnesses testify that they saw a bright light as he lay breathing his last.
Mar Gregorios was canonized as saint on 20 December 1987 by Ignatius Zakka I Iwas Patriarch of Syriac Orthodox Church. His tomb and birth place are also centers of pilgrimage.