Kuriakos Elias Chavara

Kuriakose Elias Chavara

Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara was the co-founder and first prior-general of the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate and of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Mother of Carmel. He was also known as Cyriac Elias Chavara.

Life

Blessed Chavara was born on February 10 1805 at Kainakary (Kerala, India). His parents were Iko (Kuriakose) Chavara and Mariam Thoppil. He was baptized on February 17 1805 at Chennankari Parish Church in Alappuzha. He attended the village school under the guidance of a Hindu teacher. There he studied language and elementary sciences. He entered the seminary in 1818 in Pallipuram where Palackal Thoma Malpan was the Rector. He was ordained on November 29 1829 at Arthunkal and first celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Chennankari Church.

The congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (C.M.I.) was started by Palackal Thoma Malpan, Thomas Porukara and the Blessed Chavara. They were assisted by Brother Jacob Kanianthara. The foundation for the first monastery at Mannanam was laid on May 11 1831. Palackal Malpan and Father Thomas Porukara died in 1841 and 1846, respectively.

Blessed Chavara became Prior General of the Congregation in 1855. He became Vicar-general for the Syro-Malabar Church in 1861. He defended ecclesial unity which was threatened by schism by the consecration by Tomas Rochos of Nestorian bishops. He worked to renew the faith in the church. He was a man of prayer with a devotion to the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary.

He died on January 3 1871, aged 65, at Koonammavu, India of natural causes. In 1889 his body was transferred to the chapel of Saint Joseph's Monastery, Mannanam (Kerala, India). The Monastery at Mannanam has become a pilgrim centre, where hundreds of people visit the Blessed Chavara's tomb every Saturday.

He was beatified, along with Blessed Alphonsa on February 8 1986 by Pope John Paul II at Kottayam, India. His memorial is celebrated on January 3.

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