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After serving the Malankara Church as its prelate for nearly 44 years, His Beatitude the Catholicose Aboon Mor Baselios Paulose II passed away on Sunday the 1st September 1996 at 10.45 AM.
On Sunday morning from 4.30 am onwards Bava Thirumeni was not feeling well, but the pressure of the inmates to go to the hospital was resisted by H.B himself. On the same day Bava was expected to participate in the inauguration of the newly constructed hall of the Piramadom church. Mr. T M Jacob, the minister of state, was also scheduled to participate in the function. Instead of going directly to the church T M Jacob went to see His Beatitude, there he found Bava much disturbed due to chest pain. Immediately Bava was taken to the hospital. The end has happened on the way from Piramadom Dayro to the hospital at Kolencherry. On arrival at the hospital the doctors examined Bava and declared that the Catholicos has already passed away.
The body of Bava Thirumeni was kept for public homage at the St.Peter's Chapel, Kolencherry for few hours. At 3.30 pm the body was taken in a procession to Piramadom Dayro and from there to the Catholicate Aramana at Muvattupuzha where Bava Thirumeni lived for many years; the evening prayers and preliminary portions of the funeral services were conducted. During the whole night, the body was kept in the Aramana Chapel for the faithful to pay their last homage. Catholicos Mor Baselios Marthoma Mathews II of the Malankara Orthodox Church along with some of his fellow bishops visited the Aramana late night to pay homage to the departed Catholicos of the East. On next day morning Holy Qurbono was celebrated at the Chapel followed by the remaining part of the funeral services.
The body was taken in procession at 10.15 a.m. from the Catholicate Palace at Muvattupuzha to the St. George Chapel, Malecuriz Dayro near Puthencuriz for funeral. The Dayro was chosen according to the wishes of Bava Thirumeni. When the body was taken from the Aramana, the surroundings were filled with thousands of peoples. On the way, a large number of public paid their respect to the departed soul at Kadathi, Mekkadambu, Kadamattom, Kolencherry and Choondy. The whole stretch of Muvattupuzha-Puthencuriz road were thronged by people to to bid farewell to their beloved Catholicos.
Laid to Rest at the Malecuriz Dayro
The entire area around the Dayro was crowded with believers when the body was brought there. The public were allowed to pay their last respects to the spiritual head. The mortal remains of H.B. was laid to rest at Malecuriz Dayro in the presence of all the Metropolitans of the Church, Archbishops and bishops from sister Churches, priests and a massive crowd of laity. During the condolence meeting, H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham Metropolitan, H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas, H.E. Mor Joseph Powathil the President of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India, Metropolitan Mor Aphrem of the Chaldean Church of the East and Bishop George Punnakottil of the Kothamangalam Catholic diocese spoke. H.G. Geevarghese Mar Timotheos, bishop of Thiruvalla Malankara Catholic diocese joined the other Catholic Bishops to say, 'Opees', the funeral prayers.
The Holy services on top of the picturesque mount was in Syriac and in Malayalam. There were touching moments when the departed Bava Thirumeni's sister Mary Varghese and the daughter of another sister gave good bye kisses. Devotees watched the service through closed circuit television.
H.E. Abraham Mor Clemis led the prayers. H.G. Thomas Mor Osthatheos, the retired bishop of Kochi diocese, H.G. Geevarghese Mor Gregorios of Kottayam diocese, H.G. Thomas Mor Dionysius and H.G. Abraham Mor Sevarious of Angamali, H.G. Yuhanon Mor Philoxenous of Malabar, H.G. Thomas Mor Thimotheos of Outside Kerala diocese, H.G. Joseph Mor Gregorious of Kochi, H.G Benyamin Joseph Mor Osthatheos of Simhasana Churches and H.G. Geevarghese Mor Polycorpus of the Evangelistic Association of the East participated in the funeral ceremony.
The most touching ceremony was 'Sel Besilomo' in which the departed soul bids farewell to the 'Madbaho' (sanctuary) at which he celebrated Holy Qurbono, the church in which he prayed and exhorts the Metropolitans and Priests and laity to live in peace. The crowd responded chanting "Parishuddha Pithavae Samadhanathode Povuka ...("Holy Father, go in peace"). During the ceremony, the body in sitting position in his chair was lifted 12 times by priests. It was first turned to face the East, then West, North and finally the South, three times each. At the close of the ceremony, the body was taken in procession to the grave specially prepared at the eastern courtyard of the Dayro church. H.B. kept seated on the Throne with holy vestments on, holy staff in left hand, holy cross in right and three chains on the chest marking the status of the Catholicos, was lowered into the grave. The 6 x 6 feet wide and 8 feet deep grave was then filled with incense bought from various churches as a mark of respect to the Catholicos. The very next day, Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Yuhanon (Archbishop of Aleppo) arrived from Syria, representing the Patriarch of Antioch, and offered special prayers at the sacred Tomb of the late Catholicos.
His Beatitude was laid to rest at Malecuriz Dayro as per his last wishes
His Beatitude had left a will that his mortal remains should rest at Malecuriz, a solitary hillock off Puthencuriz. That was why it was decided that the body of the Catholicos, be buried on the premises of Malecuriz Dayro Church. It was here that the Catholicos first served after he was elevated as a Metropolitan by the Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem I in 1952. His sojourn there lasted for six years by which time he had formed a special attachment to the prayerful atmosphere at Malecuriz. The ancient church atop the hillock is now under reconstruction. The tomb where His Beatitude's body is laid to rest would fall under the altar of the new church.
|Malecuriz Dayro Church - before reconstruction|
|Source: Photograph dated September 27, 1996 (SOR Web Site)|
@ MSCR - Malankara Syriac Christian Resources
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