Catholicose of the East Passed Away
September 1, 1996
The Catholicose of the East and head of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox church of Kerala, His Beatitude Mor Baselios Paulose II, passed away on September 1, 1996.
His Beatitude experienced chest pain in the morning while preparing for Holy Qurbono at the Catholicate in Muvattupuza. He was given medication and was rushed to Kolenchery hospital. But on the way to the hospital his condition got worse and he lost conciousness.
The funeral services were attended by thousands of church members. His final resting place is near Puthenkurishu in St. George Chapel, Malekurishu Deiro. This place was chosen according to the wishes of the departed Catholicose.
As is traditional, the bishop's body was covered with frankincense in it's final resting place. The funeral services were attended by several bishops and clergy men of Malankara Syrian Church and the other Christian Churches. The bishops who participated included Mor Clemis Abraham, Mor Gregorios Gheeverghese, Mor Dionysius Thomas, Mor Severios Abraham, Mor Philexinos Yuhanon, Mor Melitos Yuhanon, Mor Athanasius Thomas, Mor Timothios Thomas, Mor Gregorios Joseph, Mor Osthathiose Thomas, Mor Polycarpus Gheeverghese and Mor Osthathios Benyamin. Bishops from other churches who attended included Mar Joseph Pawathil (Archbishop of Syro Malabar Catholic Church, Changanacherri), Mar George Punnakkotil, Gheeverghese Mar Timotheos (Syro Malankara Catholic Church) and Mar Aprem of Eastern Kaldaya Church.
The departed bishop was the disciple of Mor Yulios Elias of Omallur who was the delegate of the Patriarch of Antioch to Malankara.
The service on top of the picturesque mount was in Syriac as well as in Malayalam. There were touching moments when the departed Catholicose's sister Mary Varghese and the daughter of another sister gave good bye kisses. Devotees watched the service through closed circuit television.
The most emotional moment of the service was the good bye prayer. The departed bishop's body in sitting position in his chair was raised three times each, in four corners of the madbaho (sanctuary) with the clergy singing "Phush Bashlomo....". The devotees responded "Parishuddha Pithavae Samadhanathode Povuka ...(Holy father, go in peace).
On learning the news of the death of Shreshta Catholicose, the head of the Orthodox Syrian Church Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II conducted special prayers at the Devalokam Aramana chapel in Kottayam and later at the Muvattupuzha Catholicate. He urged all churches to conduct special prayers for the departed Catholicose. In an article in Malayala Manorama he has paid tribute to the departed bishop's longing for peace in the divided Syrian church.
The departed bishop was born in 1914. He completed his college education at C.M.S.college, Kottayam. He became a priest in 1938 and was ordained bishop in 1952 at Homs, Syria. After the renewed split in the Syrian church he was elevated to the position of Catholicose for the Patriarch faction in 1975 in Damascus. He subsequently presided over the consecration of the present Patriarch of Antioch Mor Ignatius Zakka I and six bishops for the church in Kerala.
Source: The article is an edited version of the news reported in the September edition of VarthaNet.