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Kuriakose Chavara was born on 10th February 1805 of pious and devout Catholic parents in Kaniakary, Kerala, India. After his early schooling in the native village and priestly studies under Fr. Thomas Palackal at Pallippuram he was ordained priest in 1829. Co-operating with Frs. Thomas Palackal and Thomas Porukara, he founded the indigenous religious congregation for men (1831), now known as the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI). It was after the death of the co-founders that Fr. Kuriakose made the religious profession together with the first members in 1855. In the religious congregation he took the name Kuriakose Elias of the Holy Family. Besides the mother house at Mannanam, he started seven religious houses in different parts of kerala. In 1866 with the co-operation of Fr. Leopold Beccaro he started Congregation of Mother Carmel (CMC) for women. Chavara worked for the uplift of the poor and downtrodden. He started many educational and social institutions for the benefit of the common people. It was his idea to start schools attached to every church in Kerala, which he has resulted in the high literacy rate of the state. He revolutionized the society by opening up the schools for the harijans and underprivileged people in the caste- ridden society of his time. Amidst his diverse and manifold activities he found time to write few books, both prose and verse. His counsels to the Christian families given in the form of “Testaments 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 God amidst his several religious and social activities. He permeated 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. He lived his motto “The Lord is my Portion” throughout his life. Fr. Chavara died on 3rd January 1871 at Koonanmmavu preserving his baptismal innocence. His mortal remains were later transferred from Koonanmmavu to St. Joseph‘s Monastery at Mannanam in 1889. Pope John Paul II solemnly declared the heroic virtues of Chavara on April 7th 1984, thus elevating him to the status of venerable. On February 8, 1986 during his historic visit to Kerala, the Pope raised Kuriakose Elias Chavara to the honours of the declaring him ‘Blessed’. Considering his care and concern to the poor through educational institutions, spiritual renovations, miracles Blessed Chavara is canonized as a Saint, on November 23, 2014 by Pope Francis in Rome.



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