Kadavil Mor Athanasius Paulose was the first Metropolitan ordained for the diocese of Kottayam after its formation in 1876 as per the decision of the historic Mulanthuruthy Synod. From 1891 onwards he assumed the additional responsibility of Ankamali, the largest diocese in the Malankara church. His Grace was the senior most of the six Metropolitans ordained for the Malankara Archdiocese by the Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Pathros IV during his Apostolic visit to India from 1875 to '77. Mor Athanasius, a profound Syriac scholar, had translated many religious books from Syriac to Malayalam including some chapters from the New Testament. His ardent efforts to uphold the faith and traditions of the church is applauded by all. It was the vision and the collective efforts of the three Metropolitans; Pulikottil Mor Dionysius, Chathuruthil Mor Gregorios and Kadavil Mor Athanasius, that helped in revamping the church in Malankara during a troublesome period.
The late Metropolitan was born on December 7, 1833 as the youngest son of 'Avira Varkey' of Kooran family and 'Annam' of Vattaparambathu family, North Paravur. The baptismal name of the Metropolitan was Paulose. The well known 'Kooran' family to which the Metropolitan hailed from, originally belonged to Ankamali. The Metropolitan's family became a member of the St.Thomas church, North Paravur after his father Avira Varkey shifted residence to Angadi Kadavil Kulangara house which he inherited from his mother. Eventually 'Kadavil Kooran' became their family name and thus the Metropolitan came to be popularly known as 'Kadavil Thirumeni'. (There was another Metropolitan belonging to the same family and known in the same name who was ordained in 1973 for the Mission services. He died in 1991 and was entombed in the church at Cheriavapillassery near Ankamali.)
The young Paulose after having his primary education, became the student of Eralil Itty (Abraham) Kathanar under whom he studied Syriac. On February 15, 1846, Metropolitan Mor Dionysius (Cheppaud) ordained Paulose as 'Korooyo' (first stage of priest hood) at the Kottayam Cheriapally (St. Mary's church). He continued religious studies under Angamali Parackal Mathai Kathanar and Akaparmbu Areckal Daveed Kathanar. The young Deacon's scholarship was not limited to religious matters alone; he was equally fascinated in learning different languages such as Tamil and Malayalam apart from Syriac and also science which was his favorite subject. Impressed by the young deacon's profound knowledge in various topics, Metropolitan Palakunnath Mathews Mor Athanasius invited him to join the Syrian Seminary at Kottayam for studying English.
Ordination as Kassisso (Full Priest)
In 1846 came the Patriarchal representative Mor Kurillos Yuyakkim from Syria on the request of the Malankara church. Deacon Paulose was fortunate to accompany this scholarly Metropolitan during his travels many a times. The close association with Mor Kurillos Bava helped him a great in mastering Syriac language as well as to know more about the the rich traditions and practices of the mother Church.
Towards the end of the month of January, 1854 (Makaram 6, 1029), Mor Kurillos Yuyakkim Bava ordained Deacon Paulose a 'Kassisso' (Full Priest). When in 1870 the Syriac language again started to be taught in Kottayam Syrian Seminary, Palakunnath Mor Athanasius Metropolitan appointed Paulose Kassisso as the Syriac tutor.
Elevation to the rank of 'Ramban' (Monk Priest)
In 1875, the supreme head of the Church Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Pathros IV arrived in Malankara. His primary mission in India was to find an amicable settlement to the problems that has been aroused due to the dissident activities of Palakunnath Metran. Kassisso Paulose in his capacity tried his best to sort out the row between the Metropolitan and the Malankara church, but could not succeed as he failed to convince the rebellious Metropolitan or his supporters. When Kassisso Paulose realised that reconciliation is almost impossible, he left the Seminary which was then under the control of Palakunnath Metran.
In 1876, when the Mulamthuruthy Synod took the decision to ordain six metropolitans, Kassisso Paulose was one among those who was chosen by the visiting Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Pathros IV. In July, His Holiness the Patriarch of Antioch ordained him 'Ramban' ('Rabban'-Monk Priest) at the Mulanthuruthy Marthoman church.
On November 3, 1876, the Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Pathros IV ordained Ramban Paulose as Metropolitan by name MOR ATHANASIUS at the St.Thomas church, North Paravur. Mor Yulius (Konatt) was the other Metropolitan who was ordained along with Mor Athanasius. This was the first consecration of a Metropolitan by the Patriarch in Malankara. A week later Mor Athanasius got the special privilege to assist His Holiness the Patriarch during the consecration of Metropolitans Chathuruthil St. Gregorios Geevarghese (Parumala Thirumeni) and Ambatt Mor Kurillos Geevarghese.
Later when the Patriarch issued Sthathikon to each of the newly ordained Metropolitans in May 1877, the diocese of Kottayam was entrusted to Mor Athanasius. His Grace was also empowered with the authority to function as the representative of the H.H. Patriarch in Malankara. In those days, majority of the churches in Kottayam and south Kerala were controlled by Palakunnath Methran. This situation changed when new Metropolitans took charge of these dioceses. Kadavil Thirumeni's ardent efforts in bringing back many of the priests and people to the main stream of the church needs special mention here. During this restructuring process he introduced certain reforms also. He started a 'Vaidika Sangaham' (an association for the well being of priests) and also established many new churches. Christianity was introduced to the under privileged in the society; many joined the church at Kallumkathra, Kumarakom, Manarcad, Veliyanad and other places. When Fr. Alwarez, a Roman Catholic priest of Goa who joined the Syrian Church was consecrated bishop at Kottayam in 1889 with the sanction of the Patriarch and also at the consecration of Rene velathe at Colombo in 1892, Kadavil Thirumeni was a co-consecrator. At Colombo he together with Mor Gregorios (Parumala Thirumeni) and Mor Julius Alwarez was decorated by the Government with the honorary title, "Commander of the Crown of Thorns".
After the successful 'Seminary case', the responsibility to lead the Theological Seminary fell on Kadavil Mor Athanasius Metropolitan in consideration of his past experiences. When Ambatt Mor Kurillos passed away in 1891, the administration of the Ankamali diocese was also entrusted to Kadavil Thirumeni. He successfully guided the destiny of these two large dioceses of Malankara for almost 3 decades. Inspite of his busy schedule, he found time to study science which was one of his most interesting topics. Knowing his special interest in this subject, Mathen Corepiscopo Konatt (Priest Trustee of the Jacobite Syrian Church from 1901-'28) collected many Syriac Science books from Far East for the Metropolitan.
Click here ....for the full text of one of the Old Testament books "The Book of Tobit" translated by Kadavil Thirumeni in 1884
The last days of Kadavil Thirumeni
It was during the time of Kadavil Thirumeni the construction of the St. Mary's church at Thrikkunathu, Alwaye was completed (the foundation stone was laid by Ambatt Mor Kurillos Metropolitan). One of the last wishes of the Metropolitan was to start a seminary at Aluva for teaching Syriac and English for clergy as well as for the laity. With this in mind he donated all his remaining properties and assets to the seminary, which he inherited from his family. (His belongings were also contributed to the Paravur St. Thomas church which was his home parish).
On Saturday, 2 November 1907, Mor Athanasius Paulose (Kadavil Thirumeni I) passed away at the age of 74. His mortal remains were interred in the northern side of the madbho of the St. Mary's church at Thrikkunnathu, Aluva. Malankara Metropolitan Pulikottil Mor Dionysius Joseph led the last rites of the Metropolitan.
The tomb of the Metropolitan was later modified when the church was reconstructed by Valiya Thirumeni (St. Athanasius Paulose, Malankara Metropolitan). The date of demise of Chathuruthil St. Gregorios (Parumala Thirumeni), who passed away on November 2, 1902, also falls on the same date of demise of his close associate Kadavil Mor Athanasius Thirumeni.
|Left: Sacred Tomb of Kadavil Thirumeni at the Thrikunnathu St.Mary's church at Alwaye|
|Right: St. Mary's church at Thrikunnathu, Alwaye, where Kadavil Thirumeni is entombed|
1. Rev. P J Yohannan Kathanar: Paravur Marthoman church history (Malayalam), 1919