CHRISTIAN NEWS MAGAZINE FOR KERALA MALAYALEE CHRISTIANS FROM INDIA AROUND THE WORLD
DECEMBER 2004 THOSE WHO LED US
VOL:3 ISSUE:12


H.H. BASELIOS GEEVARGHESE I - SECOND CATHOLICOSE [1925-1928]

By EDITOR DR. RAJAN MATHEW, PHILADELPHIA

THOSE WHO LED US
H.H. BASELIOS GEEVARGHESE I
SECOND CATHOLICOSE

After the reign of first Catholicose, Basalios Paulose, for a short period of seven and a half months, due to untimely demise of the first Catholicose and due to the Court cases and other special circumstances, the second Catholicose could not be ordained immediately. The throne of Catholicose was kept empty for the next 12 years. Vaakathanam Karuchira Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos, Metropolitan of Kottayam Diocese, succeeded Basalios Paulose in 1925 as the second Catholicose and remained in position for a period of thirty months till his departure for heavenly abode.

Catholicose Basalios Geevarghese I was born to Vakathanam Karuchira Punnen and Puthupally Kuttanchira Unichiyamma in January 1870. His family atmosphere was very spiritual and divine. The child was very unhealthy during the childhood and was inflicted with many diseases. His parents dedicated Geevarghese at a very young age for the service of God.

Young Geevarghese was ordained as deacon at the age of sixteen in June 1886 by Metropolitan Kadavil Poulose Mar Athanasius at Vakathanam Church. His uncle Kalapurackal Paulose Kathanar was his guide and benefactor. The young deacon was sent for the theological training in Old Seminary, Kottayam, under guidance of Vattasseril Geevarghese Kathanar and Konat Mathen Malpan. Dn. Geevarghese was very studious and proficient in his studies and he became the pet of all teachers. He stood outstanding through out his studies in all classes. As an appreciation of his brilliance in studies, Konat Malpan presented him a bronze lamp, which Geevarghese had preserved respectfully with him till his death.

Considering the meritorious accomplishment of the theological training, Dn. Geevarghese was appointed as the secretary of Metropolitan Kadavil Mar Athanasios. Deacon had acquired vide knowledge and experience and became very popular and well known throughout Malankara during his tenure as secretary to the Metropolitan. Metropolitan Kadavil Mar Athanasius ordained Dn. Geevarghese as priest on August 18, 1896 and further as a Ramban within a week time on August 25, 1896. Ramban continued to be the assistant of the Metropolitan. He managed all the matters with very keen views. Ramban was the chief organizer for the Golden Jubilee celebration of the priesthood of Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionasius and he accomplished his assignment meritoriously and attained the name as an efficient organizer. As an accomplice to Metropolitan Kadavil Mar Athanasios, Ramban Geevarghese had very significant participation in the establishment of the Thrikkunnathu Seminary at Alwaye which served as the headquarters of Mar Athanasius. Though Mar Athanasius wished to hand over the Thrikkunnathu Seminary and Aramana to Ramban Geevarghese, after demise of Metropolitan, Ramban could not occupy the Aramana and had to leave the Seminary. He was forced to move to the Vakathanam Vallikkattu Church.

Afterwards he was accommodated at a place given by Kalapurachkal Achan who was a family member of Ramban. The Kathanar being unmarried eventually donated the place to Ramban for his living. It was a small house cum Church where Ramban conducted his daily prayers and consecrated holy Qurbana. Ramban had a very simple living. He did not have the convenience even to keep a deacon for his assistance. His servant Kochuvarkey was his deacon, Altar-boy and the cook. He lived of simple food and a poor life style. He never enjoyed the rich food sent by the parishioners as gesture. Ramban had a very peaceful and holy nature with great content in whatsoever state he was. Eventually he could develop the Dayara at Vallikkat, Vakathanam. A very significant contribution of Ramban Geevarghese was that he published the first Calendar and Directory of Malankara Church.

While leading a life of seclusion and divinity at Vallikkat, Ramban was called by the Church for taking up higher honor and responsibility, in the position of a Metropolitan. After reinstating the Catholicate and consecrating Paulose Mar Ivanios as the first Catholicose, Patriarch Abded Messiah ordained Karoochira Geevarghese Ramban, with Tiltle of Mar Philoxenos, along with Kallasseril Punnoose Ramban and Karot Veettil Yuyakim Ramban as Metropolitans, in the presence of the first Catholicose, On February 7, 1913 at Chengannur Church at the age of forty-five. The newly consecrated Metropolitan was entrusted with the charge of Kottayam diocese.

As a Metropolitan, he started living in the Vakathanam Vallikkattu Dayara. It was the golden era for the place Vakathanam during the life of the Metropolitan at the Vallikkat Dayara. He had established a Primary School at Vakathanam Unnamattom junction and the Vakathanam Mar Philaxenos Memorial School. He also had his contributions for establishment of Nalunakkal Adayees School, Puthusserry M.G.D. High School, Ithithanam L.P School, Vakathanam Pazhanchira U.P School. Etc. The first Post Office at Vakathanam was brought by the efforts of Thirumeni. He was also instrumental for construction of new roads and repair of many old roads in Vakathanam. With all these community developments the Metropolitan led a spiritual life with fasting and prayer.

After the demise of the first Catholicose and entombed at the Pampakkuda Cheriya Pally, search for a new Catholicose was commenced. Out of three Metropolitans of that time, Karot Yuyakim Mar Ivanios was bedridden of his ill health. Karuchira Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos withheld himself from the selection in the pretext of his ill health. Kallasseril Mar Gregorios withheld himself with excuse that he is very young. As the only available two Metropolitans, Mar Philoxenos and Mar Gregorios had withdrawn from the selection, then Malankara Metropolitan Vattasseril Geevarghse Mar Dianosios put the lot among these two and the lot fell in favor of Philaxenos. Though Mar Philexenos politely requested to Malankara Metropolitan to avoid him from the selection, Mar Dianosios could convince him that it is the selection from God. On the previous day only he bend upon the decision considering it as the decision of God. Thirumeni always considered himself as low and weak out of his humbleness and humility.

By this time, the Malankara Association was held at Niranam and elected Mar Philaxenos as the second Catholicose. In 1925, Mar Philoxenos was conferred the highest office of Catholicose, the head of the Church. On April 30, 1925 the Malankara Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Dionysius along with Metropolitans Kallacheril Geevarghese Mar Gregorios and Karot Yuachim Mar Ivanios elevated him as the Second Catholicose of the Malankara Church with the title of Basalios Geevarghese I at St. Mary's Church Niranam. The Malankara Metropolitan was involved in the administrative matters of the Church and Catholicose was concentrating in the spiritual matters.

On the next day of his enthronement, the new Catholicose consecrated Fr. P.T. Geevarghese, the founder of Monastic order of Imitation of Christ at Bethany, Perunadu as Episcopa with the Title of Geevarghese Mar Ivanios at St.Mary's Church, Niranam. Two Metropolitans Karot Yuachim Mar Ivanios and Edavazhikkal Mar Severios, left for heavenly abode during the tenure of the second Catholicose.

Metropolitan was very keen to chose young people and encourage them for the service of God. He was very ascetic and strict in the fasting and timely prayers. He had many peculiar habits. He was always wearing pants; Kammees, Kappa and Red garment Masnapsa etc. stitched by himself on his own sewing machine. He stored enough wheat powder floured himself in his stone grinder for the Mass bread and made the bread himself. He was also proficient in masonry and carpentry.

The duration of the second Catholicose, Basalios Geevarghese I, was also short for thirty months. Following an abdominal operation at Neyyoor, Catholicose Mar Basalios Geevarghese I breathed his last on December 17, 1928. With all befitting honors the Catholicose was entombed at the Dayara premise at Vallikkat, which he had chosen as his headquarters.


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