About The Founder


Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born on 10 February 1805 in Kainakary, a small village of Alleppey district in the Travancore state. After his primary education he joined the Pallipuram seminary attached to Saint Mary’s Church, Cherthala. Father Thomas Palackal was his malpan (professor of sacred sciences). He received his sub-diaconate in 1827 and diaconate in 1828. On 29 November 1829, he was ordained a priest at Saint Andrews Church, Arthunkal. From a very young age,Kuriakose was instructed to chant the name ‘Jesus’, as a result of which he eagerly wished to live a life dedicated to Jesus and the Church.

After his priestly ordination, he joined Father Thomas Palackal and Father Thomas Porukara, his malpans, and laid the foundation for a spiritual movement at Mannanam. They were joined by Brother Jacob Kanianthara who shared their lofty ideal of life in seclusion, away from worldly pursuits. They established a residence at Mannanam in the year 1831 and named it ‘Beth Rauma’ (house on the hilltop). Beth Rauma had a humble beginning and grew into a dwelling place for a group of religious priests who, later, came to be known as Servants of the Immaculate Conception. This religious community at Mannanam laid the foundation for the congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI). Father Thomas Palackal and Father Thomas Porukara died in 1841 and 1846 respectively.

With the demise of his malpans, Father Kuriakose was entrusted with the responsibility of this new congregation, which he led until his death. In 1861, Archbishop Bernardinose of the Arch-diocese of Verapoly appointed Father Kuriakose the Vicar General of the Syrian Catholics, and he fought against the schism arising from the arrival of BishopRoccos, which did disturb the unity of the Malabar Church.

From 1831 onwards Father Kuriakose engaged in various spiritual and welfare activities, such as starting a Sanskrit school at Mannanam for the educational development of the area, establishing the first wooden press in Kerala, renewing the Order of the Liturgy, popularising Sunday sermons and organizing annual retreats in parishes to facilitate the spiritual renewal of the people. In 1866, he founded the first Indian religious congregation for women, the Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC).

Saint Kuriakose spent the last seven years of his life at Koonammavu, Kerala, where he died on 3 January 1871 and was buried in Saint Philomena’s Church, Koonammavu. Later, on 24 May 1889, his mortal remains were transferred from Koonammavu and re¬in¬terred in the Saint Joseph’s Monastery Chapel at Mannanam, the mother house of the CMI congregation.
Saint Kuriakose Elias was well known for his sacrificial life and continues to be a modelof Christian virtue and a solace for many in their trials and tribulations. Many favours have been received through his intercession. SaintAlphonsa, the first saint of India, sought the intercession of Saint Kuriakose and was instantly cured of her illness. She had certified this cure by her own handwritten testimonial.

The canonization process of Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara began in 1956 and, on 8 February 1986, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II at Kottayam, Kerala.
The miraculous cure of the crippled feet of Joseph Pennaparampil from Calicut, Kerala, through the intercession of Saint Kuriakose was approved for the beatification. The miraculous cure of the alternating convergent squint eyes of Maria Jose Kottarathil from Pala, Kerala, was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Vatican, for the canonization of Saint Kuriakose. On 18 March 2014, Pope Francis signed the Decreeapproving Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara to be declared a saint.

On 23 November 2014, Kuriakose Elias Chavara was canonized at Rome by Pope Francis. The tomb, where the mortal remains of Saint Kuriakose are interred, is situated in front of the main altar of Saint Joseph’s Monastery Chapel at Mannanam.


  •  10-02-1805 Born at Kainakary, Kerala
  •  18-02-1805 Baptized at Chennamkary Parish Church
  • 08-09-1805 Dedicated to Blessed Virgin Mary as her servant at Vechoor Church
  •  1810 Started primary education at Kainakary
  •  1818 Joined the parish seminary at Pallipuram
  •  29-11-1829 Ordained priest at ArthunkalChurch
  •  11-05-1831 Foundation of the first Indian indigenous religious congregation for men, Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), along with Father Thomas Palackal and Father Thomas Porukara
  •  1831 Popularized Sunday Homilies and introduced Retreats for priests and laity in the Kerala Church
  •  1833 Establishment of the first Syro-Malabar Common Seminary at Mannanam
  •  1838 Introduction of ‘Way of the Cross’ devotion at Mannanam
  •  16-02-1844 Appointed Malpan (tutor of sacred subjects) and examiner of Scholastics withthe authorization to issue patents to the newly ordained priests to hear confession and to preach in the Church
  •  03-07-1846 Foundation of the first printing press and publishing house of the Syro-Malabar Church at Mannanam
  •  1846 Foundation of the First Catholic Sanskrit School at Mannanam
  •  1853 Foundation of the First Syro-Malabar Catechumenate at Mannanam
  •  08-12-1855 First priest to profess as religious in the Indian Church (along with 10 other members)
  •  1856-1857 Wrote 10 Eclogues (Shepherd Plays) on the nativity of Jesus Christ
  •  27-07-1861 OCD Affiliated the Congregation as Third Order of Carmelites Discalced (TOCD)
  •  08-06-1861 Appointed as the First Vicar General in the Syro-Malabar Church after the time of Archdeacons
  •  1861 Fought for Syro-Malabar Church against schismatic intruder bishop Roccos
  •  1862 Wrote the First Malayalam Narrative poem, AnasthasiayudeRaktha-sakshyam, an inspirational story of a martyr
  •  1862-1869 Edited the Divine Office for priests, compiled and composed Liturgical Rubrics, Liturgical Calendar, Office for the Dead, Little Office of Immaculate Mother, etc., in the Malabar Church
  •  1864 Introduced the ‘May Devotion of Blessed Virgin Mary’at Mannanam
  •  1864 Implemented the concept, ‘A School for a Church’ (Pallikkudam), in the Syro-Malabar Church as its Vicar General
  •  13-02-1866 Foundation of the Indian Religious Congregation for women, Congregation of Mother Carmel (CMC), at Koonammavu together with Father Leopold OCD, an Italian Missionary
  •  15-02-1866 Introduced 40 Hours Eucharistic. Adoration in Kerala at Koonammavu
  •  02-01-1868 Started the first boarding house and school for girls in Kerala at Koonammavu together with Father Leopold OCD
  •  13-02-1868 Wrote the first instruction manual, A Testament of a Loving Father (OruNallaAppante Chavarul) for Christian families, the first of its kind in the Church
  •  1869 Foundation of the first lay charitable organization, the ‘Confraternity of Saint Joseph for Happy Death’ at Kainakary
  •  1869 Foundation of the first Home of Charity, Upavisala, for the sick, old, and destitute at Kainakary
  •  1869 Initiated Catholic reunion movement
  •  03-01-1871 Slept in the Lord at SaintPhilomina’s Monastery at Koonammavu
  •  04-05-1889 Mortal remains reinterred at Saint Joseph’s Monastery, Mannanam, Mother House of the CMI Congregation
  •  21-12-1936 Canonization process started at the congregational level
  •  09-12-1955 Official permission to start the process of Canonization
  •  03-01-1958 Diocesan process started with the title Servant of God
  •  07-04-1984 Declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II in Rome
  •  08-02-1986 Beatification at Kottayam, Kerala, by Pope John Paul II
  •  20-12-1987 Release of the postal stamp by the Government of India in recognition of the social commitment of Saint Chavara
  •  04-05-2006 Portrait of Saint Chavara unveiled in the Literary Academy Hall of Thrissur by Government of Kerala for contribution to Malayalam literature
  •  19-10-2014 Publication of Eclogues by Kerala Sahithya Academy
  •  23-11-2014 Canonization of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara at Vatican by Pope Francis

Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born on 10th Feb. 1805 of God fearing parents Iko (Kuriakose) Chavara and Mariam Thoppil of the Syro-Malabar Church, at Kainakary, near Allappuzha, Kerala. According to the local custom the infant was baptized on the 8th day in Chennankari Parish Church, Alappuzha.

From the age 5 to 10, he attended the village school (Kalari) to study languages, different dialects, and elementary sciences under the guidance of a Hindu teacher (Asan). Inspired by the desire to become a priest, he began studies under the parish priest of the church of St. Joseph. At the age of 13 in 1818 he entered the seminary at Pallipuram where Malpan Thomas Palackal was the Rector. He was ordained priest on 29th November, 1829 at Arthunkal and celebrated his First Holy Mass at Chennankari Church. After the ordination he was engaged for some time in pastoral ministry; however he soon returned to the seminary to teach and also to officiate for Malpan Thomas Palackal during his absence. Thus he joined Malpan Thomas Porukara and Malpan Thomas Palackal when they were planning to found a congregation.

In 1830 he went to Mannanam to direct the construction of the first house of the congregation of which the foundation stone was laid on 11th May, 1831. After the death of both the Malpans, Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara took up leadership. On 8th December, 1855 he made the religious profession along with other 10 companions, under the name “Kuriakose Elias of Holy Family”.
He was the Prior General of all the monasteries of the congregation from 1856 till his death in 1871. When, in 1861, a schism threatened the Church of Kerala with the arrival of Mar Thomas Rokos without proper credentials from the Pope, Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara was appointed the Vicar-General of the Syro-Malabar Church by the Arch-Bishop of Verapolly. Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara is gratefully remembered and acknowledged by the later leaders of the Church and by the Catholic community in general for his strenuous fight, strong stance , and effective leadership in thwarting `Thomas Rochos’ intrusion and saving the church of Kerala from schism.

Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara, one of the founding fathers and the first Superior General of CMI (Carmelites of Mary Immaculate) congregation of the Catholic Church, died on January 3rd, 1871 in the odour of sanctity leaving behind him the high reputation of a very holy monk. He was declared blessed on February 8, 1986 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

His mortal remains, transferred from Koonammavu where he died, were piously kept in the chapel of St. Joseph’s Monastery, Mannanam, Kerala, India. Because of his sanctity and his showering of blessings upon those who seek the intercession of him, Mannanam has become a pilgrim centre. Thousands of people come to the tomb of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara on every Saturday for the Holy Mass and Novena. The feast of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara is celebrated with great devotion and solemnity every year from December 26th to January 3rd.

The CMI congregation and the Kerala Church owe a great deal to the dreams and efforts of the great luminaries, Malpan Thomas Porukara, Malpan Thomas Palackal, Brother Jacob Kanianthara and Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara the first founding Fathers of the CMI congregation. Just like his teachers, Malpan Thomas Porukara and Malpan Thomas Palackal, Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara was a great visionary. There is no area of human endeavour where the fingers of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara has not touched.To his credit there are many firsts in the history of the Kerala Church: the first indigenous religious congregation for men (CMI ), the first Sanskrit School, the first catholic printing press, the first Indian congregation for women( CMC ). He was first to edit and publish the East Syrian Breviary. He prepared the first liturgical calendar in the Malabar Church in 1862 which continued to be in use until the recent years. It was through his efforts Syriac was first printed in Kerala and the first prayer books in Malayalam were printed at Mannanam under his care.

Besides the first house at Mannanam, he started several religious houses in different parts of Kerala. Starting of seminaries for the education and formation of clergy, introduction of annual retreats for priests and people, starting of forty-hour adoration, a house for the dying and destitute, special attention to catechumens, schools for general education were among the few of the various activities under Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara’s leadership.

Besides, in 1866 with the co-operation of Fr. Leopold Beccaro OCD, Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara started the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC) for women. He was the pioneer of popular education in Kerala and the one who inspired the Catholics to start schools in every parish along with their churches. That is why in Kerala schools are popularly called “Pallikkoodam” – a place for education attached to the church.Amidst his diverse and manifold activities, he found time and leisure to write a few books, both prose and verse, for the benefit of the faithful. His counsels to the Christian families given in the form of a “Testament of a Loving Father” are universally applicable and are relevant to this day. Essentially a man of prayer and intense charity, he stayed in close communion with the Lord, amidst his several religious and social activities, permeating his spirituality to all around him, so much so that he was accepted and referred to as a man of God, from his early years.