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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

St.Gregorios Abdul Galeel Dukhrono Perunnal

The festival of  St.Gregorios Abdul Galeel Dukhrono Perunnal is celebrated on 27th  April every year  in Mor Thoma  Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church at Vadakkanparavoor, situated near the Cochin city of Kerala. This church is dedicated to the famous apostle of Jesus Christ, St Thomas. 
According to the history and traditions of the Indian Church, Apostle St. Thomas (Mor Thoma Sleeho) who reached 'Maliankara' (Malankara) in AD 52 had established a Church at 'North Paravur' (then known as Kottailkavu). This is said to be the first Christian congregation in India. This historic site is located just a few miles south of the ancient port of Kodungallor (Cragnannor). The early Christian converts are believed to be, the Jewish settlers who migrated to the India for trade purposes and also some upper caste Hindus. North Paravur in the early centuries was the most prominent Christian centre in India and it still holds a unique position in the Malankara Church.
St. Gregorios Abdul’ Galeel, the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Jerusalem who came to India in AD.1665 on the request of the Malankara Church to reinstate the Holy Apostolic faith here, is remembered by the local Syrian Christian community with great veneration. It was his untiring efforts that helped to revive the ancient faith and traditions of the Malankara Syrian Christian Church.

His Holiness was born in the city of Mosul in Iraq.  In AD.1654 he was ordained Metropolitan by name 'Thimotheos' for the Omid diocese (Ameed/Diyarbaker) in Turkey by the Patriarch of Antioch Mor Ignatius She'mun. After ten years, the Patriarch elevated him as the Archbishop for the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Jerusalem. In view of the historical importance of the city of Jerusalem in the Christian Church, the Metropolitan residing here was often referred as the 5th Patriarch in the Syrian Orthodox Church. 'Mor Gregorios' was the honorable title entrusted to this Jerusalem Patriarch who was within the spiritual supremacy of the Holy Patriarchal See of Antioch. Thus from his assumption as the Metropolitan of Jerusalem diocese,  Mor Timotheos came to be known as 'Mor Gregorios'.  

During the 16th and 17th Centuries, Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church was subjected to different kinds of religious persecution and suppression from external forces. In that period, first the Nestorians through their emissaries, and later the Catholic Church with the help of Portuguese, established their foothold in Malankara. In 1653, Patriarch Mor Ahatullah who was on his way to Malankara was murdered by the Portuguese navy and drowned in the Arabian Sea. The desperate Malankara church leadership appealed to the Patriarchate for immediate help. To discuss about the serious situation, the Patriarch of Antioch summoned an Episcopal Synod and decided to send his delegate to protect the interests of the Syrian church in Malankara. The mission was boldly undertaken by Archbishop Mor Gregorios Abdul' Jaleel Bava. During his journey he had to encounter many hardships, ultimately he landed near Ponnani, then an important port in north Kerala, in 1665. Bava was fully conscious of the situations prevailing in Malankara and was prepared to face any untoward instances. He stayed there in disguise until some parishioners of the St. Thomas Church, North Paravur visited the place to whom he revealed his identity. They took him to their church and informed others. Thomas Arkadiyokan (the one who was giving leadership to the Malankara church) and others rushed to place, all were very happy to see the delegate from the Apostolic See. Soon after, Mor Gregorios Bava ordained Thomas Arkadiyokan as bishop in the name 'Marthoma I'. With this single act, the holy father reestablished the Malankara-Antioch relationship which was cut off during some time. Later both these bishops jointly travelled the length and breath of Kerala, visiting various Churches and preached to the people and revived the spiritual traditions and faith of the Syriac Christians. In 1670 Mor Gregorios and Marthoma the first, together ordained Marthoma the second. But for His Holiness timely action, the Malankara Church in its present form should not have been in existence. As he was responsible for the re-establishment of Jacobite (Orthodox) faith, Mor Gregorios is known as "Yakub Burdana" of Malankara. Due to the abound love and respect showered on Him by the faithful of the St. Thomas Jacobite Syrian Church, North Paravur, the holy father stayed on for about 7 years there. On 27th April, 1681 A.D. (M.E. 857 Medom 14th, Friday), His Holiness was called to eternal rest and entombed in the North Paravur Church. The sacred tomb of the saintly father has subsequently became a Holy Place for the Syrian Christians.

Thousands of Pilgrims visit the tomb every year seeking his intercession. On April 9, 2000, the supreme head of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch & all the East, H.H the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I, through an historical bull, permitted to recite the Quqalya hymns and prayers of the Zadeeqo (saints) at the tomb of Mor Gregorios Abdel`Jaleel Bava and beseech his intercession. 

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