St. John’s Cathedral, Pampady

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HISTORY OF ST. JOHN’S CATHEDRAL


Pampady St. John’s church was developed as the result of the dispute existed between Pampady Christians and the administrative authorities of the Manarcadu St.Mary’s church. In 1829, the Orthodox Syrian Christians residing in the east of Manarcadu St. Mary’s church formed themselves into a separate congregation. They established the new church on a hill, which consequently came to be known as ‘Pallikkunnu’. In the earliest years of the church, the priests from the Manarcadu church themselves guided them as their spiritual shepherds.

Cheppattu Philiphose Mar. Dionysius – the Malankara Metropolitan of the early 19th century sanctioned and sanctified the new church. The thatched roof of the church caught fire in 1869. The renovation of the church took place on the same year with Chalasseril Rev. Fr. Joseph at the head of the community as vicar. Towards the close of the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th century, Rev. Fr. Jacob Cheriyamadom ( Cheriyamadathil Valia Yacob Kathanar) came to be the vicar twice and initiated several spiritual and temporal developments including English education, which was very rare in those days.

Fighting with the strong current of reformation headed by Bishop Mathews Mar Athanesius, the parish remained firmly for their Orthodox beliefs and practices. Fifty one heads of families submitted a surrender document to the Orthodox Bishop Kadavil Mar Athanesius – the Bishop of Kottayam diocese – who had his residence quite often at this church. The earliest parish priests were Rev. Fr. Geevarghese Ikarapadavil and Rev. Fr. Thommen Thomas Kadavumbhagam. They were ordained from the parishioners. Rev. Fr. Thommen Thomas passed away at the age of 34. Rev. Fr. Geevarghese outlived for three decades for the spiritual guidance of the parish and breathed his last in 1924. In those days, the parish was very extensive comprising today’s 7 panchayaths. Priests from outside also served this large community at this time.

February 5, 1899 marks the beginning of the modern history of the parish. On that day, Pampady Mar. Gregorious, the well known saintly Bishop of Malankara Orthodox church, was ordained at this church to the preliminary priesthood at his fourteenth year of age. Two other boys of the parish, more or less of the same age, Kuriakose Moolakkara and Alexander Kadavumbhagam, was ordained along with Mar. Gregorious. Kuriakose Pampadikandathil kept celibacy and distinguished himself as an abbot (Ramban). For twenty three years he held this clurgical post and served as a Syriac teacher at the old seminary theological study center. During this period, he resided quite often at Pampady church. Circumstances necessitated for him to get an attached western two storayed building constructed, and thereby raising the roof of the other part of the church. The reason for this was the fire damage to the old parsonage, where he had his residence. Those days were of untouchability, and there was an arch wall intended to locate the low class people. They could only remain beyond the wall.

In the echo to the turmoil in the whole Malankara church since 1912 when the catholicate was reinstalled, the parish fell to fighting factions with the Rev. Fr. Ikarapadavil and Rev. Fr. Pampadikandathil on the Orthodox side and Rev. Fr. Kadavumbhagam on the opposing side, with the vast majority being Orthodox and a minority supporting the patriarch of Antioc. This led to prolonged litigations for about half a century.

Disciple of Pampady thirumeni Rev.Fr.Abraham, Vattamala became the regular priest of the Parish, the post was granted by Rev.Fr.Ikarapadavil. The tragic history of the fighting factions came to an end in 1958 by the Supreme Court verdict of the church litigation and the consequent mutual reception of the Catholics and Patriarch. The present vicar Fr.P.P.Geevarghese, Ikarapadavil was first ordained in 1950 and entered into priestly service at the dawn of the peaceful era in 1959.

The old factions reappeared without delay in the Parish as part of the division in the Malankara church as a whole. Then the Jacobite minority of the Parish left the ancient church to their own new one, just 1km away. So the present vicar and his predecessor very Rev.P.K.Geevarghese Corepiscopa and the whole Parish have been blessed with a peaceful atmosphere ever since, leading to many innovations culminating in the renovation of the church building at the close of the 20th century.

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