(1) Geevarghese Corepiscopa & the Vettickal Chapel
(2) Parumala Thirumeni & Kochuparambil Paulose Ramban
(3) Ordination as 'Ramban' (Rabban - Monk) & the beginning of a seminary at Parumala
(1) Chathuruthy Geevarghese Corepsicopa & the Vettickal Chapel
While serving as a priest of the Mulunthuruthy Mar Thoman church, Chathuruthy Geevarghese Corepiscopa used to stay at the nearby Vettickal Kurisupally (the present Vettickal dayro). This Vettickal Kurisupally, was built around the year AD. 1200 as a chapel of the nearby Mulunthuruthy Mar Thoman church. A 'Stone Cross' was already established in this place 75 years before, ie; in AD.1125 itself. The two famous Kattumangattu Metropolitans, Valiya Bava (Mor Koorilos I, the founder of Thoziyoor Church) and his younger brother Elaya Bava stayed at this chapel for many years. The mortal remains of Elaya Bava (Mor Koorilos Geevarghese, died in 1809) was interred in this Kurisupalli. However this chapel later remained neglected for a while. It was with the arrival of Chathuruthy Geevarghese Corepiscopa, that the chapel regained its importance to become a major centre of the Church.
There the young Chathuruthy Corepiscopa spent most of the time in prayer and fasting. During lent he used to take food only after 3 p.m. and that too was bare minimum. The 3rd century Coptic Monk, St. Anthony was his role model. Geevarghese Corepiscopa followed a very strict Monastic life. His fame as a Monk spread in and around the place. He shared his own experiences, about the illness he had in his childhood & his miraculous recovery, with those who approached him. He advised them to observe strenuous prayers not only on occasion of difficulties but at all times and also advised them to remember MOTHER MARY and pray for her intercession. To hear the Godly words of this young monk and to have prayers with him, faithful started to come in large numbers to the chapel. Gradually Vettickal chapel become the epicenter of the Monastic movement of the Church.
During the Apostolic visit of the Patriarch Mor Ignatius Peter IV, Chathuruthy Ramban (Parumala Thirumeni) was his secretary for about two years. The Patriarch understanding the strong desire of the Ramban to lead a monastic life, suggested to convert the place at Vettickal to a Monastery. Though the Syrian Church in its homeland had so many numbers of monasteries built through centuries, in Malankara until then there was not even a single one. Chathuruthy Ramban naturally was very enthusiastic on His Holiness' suggestion and consequently he submitted the proposal to the Mulunthuruthy Mar Thoman church. (Kurisupally until then was under the ownership of this church.)
On 22nd August 1876, the Mulunthuruthy Mar Thoman church surrendered this Kurisupally and its premises to the supreme head of the Holy Church, the Patriarch of Antioch, through a circular which also allowed it to function as a Monastery. In 1877 the foundation stone of the Vettickal dayro - the first monastery of the Malankara Church - was laid at the site and in the same year the new madbho of the church was consecrated by all the Metropolitans including Chathuruthy Kochu Thirumeni who by then was ordained a high-priest.
(2) Parumala Thirumeni & Kochuparambil Paulose Ramban
It was around that time Kochuparambil Paulose Kassisso of Mulunthuruthy (who later became a bishop by name Mor Koorilose Paulose) became a close associate of Parumala Thirumeni. Paulose Kassisso managed the affairs of the Vettickal chapel when Chathuruthy Ramban (Parumala Thirumeni) was away with the Patriarch as His Holiness's secretary. On 5th September 1876, Kochuparambil Paulose Kassisso was elevated to the order of Ramban. When Chathuruthy Kochu Thirumeni permanently shifted to Parumala seminary after being ordained as bishop for Niranam, he entrusted the charge of Vettickal dayro with Kochuparambil Ramban. It was this Kochuparambil Paulose Ramban, who reconstructed the dayro into a two storied structure. When Parumala Thirumeni went for a pilgrimage to the holy land, he included Kochuparambil Ramban in the group. (In the famous travelogue written by Parumala thirumeni, Kochuparambil Paulose Ramban is mentioned as 'Paulose Ramban' and is included as the first in the list). Very much like Parumala Thirumeni, Kochuparambil Ramban too led a pious and Godly life all through and finally in 1911 he was raised to the leadership of the Jacobite Syrian Church as the Malankara Metropolitan.
(Following the demise of Mor Koorilos Paulose in 1917, Vettickal dayro came under the jurisdiction of the Malankara Metropolitan St. Athanasius Paulose (Valiya Thirumeni of Aluva) and later under Paulose Mor Severious who was the founder of Koratty Sion Seminary and the Metropolitan of the Kochi diocese under the Holy See of Antioch. It continued to function as a dayro even after the reunification of the two Malankara Churches in 1964. After the second separation of the Malankara Church in early 1970's, this dayro came under the administration of Malankara Orthodox Church (Methran faction) and their diocesan headquarters functioned here for few years).
(3) Ordination as RAMBAN & the beginning of a Seminary at Parumala
The 'Syrian Seminary' at Kottayam (which is now popularly known as 'Old Seminary') was started by Mor Dionysius II (Pulikottil-I) with the support of early missionaries in 1813 with the aim of giving proper training to the upcoming priests. However this institution later fell into the hands of European missionaries and the Syrian Church was left with nothing. So Mor Dionysius V was compelled to start another seminary for the training of clergy. In those days the 'European missionary activities were more vigorous in Kottayam and southern Travancore areas. Many parishes in southern Travancore belt, including that at Kottayam, came under the influence of this group (Marthoma Syrian Church). However outside this region the 'reformists' were influential only at Kunnamkulam. So Joseph Mor Dionysius planned to start a seminary somewhere in south Travancore and thus the church at Mavelikara was chosen. However since the parishioners of the church objected, Pulikkottil Thirumeni has to look for another place and finally Parumala was located. Later when the Church searched for a an apt person to lead the seminary, it was the name of our young and dynamic Syriac scholar, Chathuruthy Geevarghese Corepiscopa, that was suggested by Pulikottil Thirumeni.
On Sunday the 7th April 1872 (Meenam 26, 1047), at the age of 24, Pulikottil Mor Dionysius Metropolitan raised Chathuruthy Geevarghese Corepiscopa, to the order of 'RAMBAN' at the Mulunthuruthy Mar Thoman Church and appointed him the Malpan of the new Seminary at Parumala. (In some other books the date of Ramban ordination is mentioned as Saturday, the 6th April 1872)
Geevarghese Ramban continued his stay at Vettickal dayro for a little more to complete the work of 'copying and translating' some religious books from Syriac, with the permission of the Metropolitan Joseph Mor Dionysius. (These manuscripts are still preserved in some churches). Meanwhile Kassisso Ya'qub Malpan of Chalakuzhy family from Thiruvalla, was temporarily appointed as the chief Malpan (malfono - Syriac term for teacher) of the new Seminary at Parumala .
MSCR - Malankara Syriac Christian Resources
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