Pilgrimage to the
Holy Land
( in  AD.1895 ) 


Parumala Thirumeni's  visit to the Holy Land in 1895 was a great event of the time. His ardent wish to see for himself the Holy Places, where our Lord Jesus went about fulfilling the Old Testament prophesies about Messiah started from the day he became a close aide of Yuyakim Mor Kurillos, the Patriarchal delegate.   After his ordination as a Metropolitan in 1876, the Patriarch of Antioch H.H.Mor Ignatius Peter IV, himself had invited our Kochu Thirumeni to visit the Holy Land and other important places of the Church in the Middle East.  As mentioned earlier, the name 'Mor Gregorious' given to our Kochu Thirumeni during his enthronement as Metropolitan was the honorable name of the Jerusalem Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church.   So he thought that it was his duty to visit the Seat of this Archbishoprics at  'St.MARK'S  DAYRO'  in Jerusalem, where our Lord Christ had His Last Supper with his disciples and many such important events had occurred.         

Jerusalem being the most important city of Christians, the Archbishoprics of Jerusalem diocese under the jurisdiction of Holy throne of Antioch had some privileges.  His name was earlier mentioned in the 1st 'TUBDEN' after the names of the prevailing Patriarchs and the Catholicose/Maphriyono, in the 'Holy Qurbono'. 'Mor Gregorious' was this Archbishops title name. "St.Gregorious Abdul'Galeel" entombed at the 'N.Paravur St.Thomas Church' on 27th April AD.1681 was the Metropolitan of this diocese.  Parumala Kochu Thirumeni was ordained as Metropolitan at this N.Paravur Church.

But, the problems that continued in the local Church had not allowed his desire to materialize for another two decades. Yet he was adamant to visit, at least the Holy City.  It was only because of this strong desire, Mor Gregorious finally decided for the Holy visit in spite of the financial difficulties he had.  His Grace made arrangement for the journey, so that they may reach Jerusalem during the Holy Passion week of 1895.  With the help of other Metropolitans, Mor Gregorios collected an amount of around Rs.5000/- required for the pilgrimage.  Before the start of this long journey on 27th January 1895, Mor Gregorious consecrated the new Church at Parumala  along with the Malankara Metropolitan Mor Dionysius Joseph. The next day Mor Gregorious left for Cochin.


Holy Pilgrimage

Kochu Thirumeni started the journey from Cochin on 19th February, accompanied by Kochuparambil Ramban Paulose (later Paulose Mor Kurillos, the Malankara Metropolitan from 1911-'17); Wattasseril Fr. Geevarghese Malpan (later Malankara Metropolitan, Mor Dionysius VI - 1909);  Thoppil Lukose Corepiscopa of N.Paravur;   Karingattil Fr.Scariah of Thumpamon  and  Puthenpurakal Fr.Geevarghese of Kadambanitta.   Deacon Sleebo (later Metropolitan St.Sleeba Mor Osthatheos of Kunnamkulam, the Patriarchal delegate to the Holy Throne of Antioch from 1908)  and  Thirumeni's servant, Parumala Thoppil Philipose  were already send to Bombay for the arrangement of the journey.   A large gathering including Mor Dionysius V  were there at Cochin to bid farewell for the group.   After reaching 'Pattambi', they left for Bombay by train. On 18th March, the group boarded the Ship from Bombay and reached 'Port Saidi' on 4th April.  The Ship journey was extremely difficult for the pilgrims.  On Sunday the 6th April, Mor Gregorios celebrated the 'Holy Qurbono' at the Coptic Church situated there.  From there they left for Jerusalem and reached the Holy City of Jerusalem on 7th April 1895.

On reaching Jerusalem, the delegation led by Mor Gregorios of Malankara were welcomed by a large gathering, including the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan, Mor Gregorios Geevarghese of Jerusalem diocese.   Arrangements were made at the famous St.Mark's Dayro (the seat of the Jerusalem Metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Church) for the stay of Kochu Thirumeni and others from Malankara.  This 'Dayro' stands on the ancient site of the house of St.Mark the Evangelist.   It is located some distance away south of 'The Church of Holy Sepulchre' and is on the northern slope of Mount Zion.  The Street in front of this church is known as  'St.Mark's Street'.


St.Mark's Dayro at Jerusalem

This St.Mark's Dayro at Jerusalem is the oldest and the most historically important Monastery in the possession of the Syrian Orthodox Church.  After the Syrian Church lost its other churches and properties in the Holy City, St.Mark's became the seat of the Archbishop of Jerusalem.  It was here in the upper room where Our Lord had His Last Supper in the house of John also called Mark;    it was here that Christ washed the feet of his disciples;   it was here Jesus appeared to the disciples after the Resurrection;   it was here His mother and disciples waited in prayer between Ascension and Pentecost;   it was here that St.Mary lived with St.John also called Markose after crucifixion;  it was here that St.Peter appeared after his miraculous escape from prison;   it was here that St.Mary was baptized;   it was here that the Priesthood was instituted;   it was here that the first Holy Qurbono was celebrated in Aramaic (an ancient dialect of Syriac) by Yakoob, the brother of Jesus;    it was here the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Holy Synods of the Christians were held under the Apostles;    it was this, the first Church of the Christians and was dedicated to the name of Mother of God and  is also the place of many other important events that had occurred in the long history of the Church.  


Parumala Thirumeni celebrated the Holy Qurbono in this Altar of the St.Mark's Syrian Orthodox Monastery ('Sehion Malika'-'Sion Mansion') of Jerusalem, in AD.1895

{Source: Hidden Pearl}

A Syriac inscription of the sixth century discovered here in 1940 says: " This is the house of Mary, mother of John also called Mark.  The apostles consecrated it as a Church after the name of Mary the God-bearer.  It was built in 73 A.D.  after  King Titus destroyed Jerusalem".  When Persians attacked Jerusalem in AD 614 this, 'Mother  of all Churches'  was also destroyed. 

The monastery was rebuilt a few times, in 6th century AD, 1009, 1718, 1791, 1833, 1858, 1940.  A piece of Holy Cross in which our Lord Christ was Crucified and relics of many Saints are preserved in this Monastery.  There is a large collection of manuscripts written by various Holy fathers of Christianity like that of,  Mor Kurillos Patriarch of Alexandria who presided over the 3rd Universal Synod of Christianity held at Ephesus in AD 431;   Mor Severious Patriarch of Antioch (A.D 538)Mor Gregorios Bar Ebroyo Maphriyono of the East (13th century);  Mor Dionysius;  Mor Chrysostom (4th century);  Mor Aphrem (AD 378);  Mor Kuriakose Patriarch of Antioch (AD 817);  Mor Michael Rabo Patriarch of Antioch (AD 1199) and others, in the monastery's famous library.  Also included in the library are the 15 New Testament books written between 7th and 15th centuries.    


Entrance to the St.Mark's Syrian Orthodox Monastery

(Source- Syrian Orthodox Resources Web Page)


Portrayal of St.Mary with Infant Jesus painted by St.Luke the Evangelist

(Source- The Vision, Aug 2001)


Parumala Thirumeni on his return brought relics of the Holy fathers from this Dayro and was established at many churches in Malankara.  The famous portrait of Virgin Mary with infant Jesus, painted by St.Luke the Evangelist is in this Monastery. (see the above portrait)

The Pilgrims from Malankara together with Mor Gregorios Bawa visited almost all the important sites of Christianity.  On the request of the Metropolitan of Jerusalem diocese, Parumala Thirumeni led the Prayers at the various Syrian Orthodox locations during the Passion week.  His Grace had the fortune to celebrate the HOLY QURBONO, at the St.Mark's Dayro and also at the various altars allotted to the Suryani Church, the Kyomtho Dayro (Church of Holy Sepulcher); St.Mary's tomb; Mor Behanan Sahada etc. Addressing the local Christians, Kochu Thirumeni spoke in Syriac and Deacon Sleebo (later St.Osthatheos Sleebo), translated the speech into the local language, the Arabic.  In his travelogue 'Oorsalem Yathra Vivaranam', Parumala Thirumeni at many times had expressed his thanks for the help of this Syrian Deacon, 'Sleebo'.   Mor Gregorious on behalf of the delegation from Malankara, presented a gold plated 'Kasa' (Chalice) and 'Pilasa' (Platen) used in Holy Qurbono; a 'Crosier' (shepherd's staff) used by the Bishops of Suryani Church and about Rs.2000 to the Metropolitan Mor Gregorious of Jerusalem diocese.  Also around Rs.1700 from many Malankara Christians were offered at the Holy Sepulchre.

During their stay, they visited the Patriarchs of Greek Church; Armenian Church; Latin Church;  the bishops of Coptic Church; Maronite Church and other Church dignitaries accompanied by the diocesan Metropolitan of our Church at Jerusalem. 

On 22nd April, after a brief stay for 16 days at the St.Mark's Dayro and visiting many of the Holy places, the Pilgrims left Jerusalem by train to the nearest port at 'Joppa'.   Mor Gregorios of Jerusalem and other local Suryani Christians were present at the Railway station bidding farewell to the delegates from Malankara.  Ramban Abdulla and Deacon Yakoob of  St.Mark's Dayro accompanied the Pilgrims to the Port of 'Joppa' and  returned to their Dayro only after the departure of the ship.


This visit of Mor Gregorios in 1895 to the Holy Land was the first by any known Metropolitan of Malankara Church.  This had resulted in the starting of a new era of cordial relationship with the members of our mother Church at Jerusalem.  Further through this visit, the other Christian denominations in the Holy City came to know more about the Syrian Church in Malankara.  Mor Gregorious of Jerusalem diocese, later in an Encyclical to the Malankara Church mentions about this. 

Parumala Thirumeni and others reached Bombay by ship on 13th May and on 17th they arrived at Shornur Railway station.   Pulikottil Kuriathu and Panakkal Itty Mathu from Kunnamkulam were there to receive them.  Then they visited Malankara Metropolitan Mor Dionysius V  at  Pazhanji Church near Kunnamkulam.   From there they went to N.Paravur St.Thomas Church by boat, and a reception was organised there, by the local parishioners.   Later on his way to Parumala Seminary, grand receptions were given to them at Cochin, Mulunthuruthy, Kandanad and Kottayam.  Mor Gregorious, in one of his encyclicals had specially thanked the Mulunthuruthy, North Paravur, Kandanad, Kottayam and Niranam churches for the arrangements of the Holy tour.

On reaching Parumala Seminary, His Grace delivered a famous speech. This was later published in the Church Magazine, 'Edavaka Pathrika'.  A scholar of the time, M. Rama Varma Thamban B.A.L.T, impressed by this speech of Mor Gregorious, included this portion in the book 'Prabashanagal' under the heading 'Bhaktha Vachanam'.  This book at that time was approved in the syllabus of Schools.

Click HERE for the famous speech delivered by Parumala Thirumeni on his return from Jerusalem

(The text is included both in Malayalam and English) 

Parumala Thirumeni later published a travelogue ("Oorsalem Yathra Vivaranam") about his visit to the Holy land It was in great demand and the first set of 1000 copies were sold within two weeks.  Even now this book is considered to be an excellent travelogue. 

Click HERE for the excerpts from the travelogue of Parumala Thirumeni


Offering to the Church of Holy Sepulcher

After returning from Jerusalem, Parumala Thirumeni collected a certain amount from all the parishes of Malankara and constructed a big silver Cross and sent to the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Jerusalem, to be kept in the 'Madboho' (altar) of the Suryani Church at the 'Kyomtha Dayro' (Church of Holy Sepulchre) of our Lord, as an offering.  

With this visit to the Holy Land, the longstanding dreams of Parumala Thirumeni's life has been fulfilled.  He desired that the remaining days of his life should be spent in prayer and meditation at Parumala Seminary.  However because of the pressures of the situations, he had to again actively participate in the administration.

His travel to such a distant place, made him understand the need for English education, it being an universal language.  This he had delivered in his speech on his return from Jerusalem (see above).  Through many of the encyclicals, he stressed the need for English education.  His Grace later laid the foundation for a few English medium schools at all corners of Malankara.


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