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Geevarghese Ivanios

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Title: Geevarghese Ivanios  
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Subject: Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Christianity in Kerala, Servants of God, Founders of Roman Catholic religious communities, September 21
Collection: 1882 Births, 1953 Deaths, 20Th-Century Eastern Catholic Bishops, 20Th-Century Roman Catholic Archbishops, 20Th-Century Venerated Christians, Burials at St. Mary's Cathedral, Pattom, Trivandrum, Christianity in Kerala, Converts to Catholicism from Oriental Orthodoxy, Converts to Eastern Catholicism, Eastern Catholic Bishops, Eastern Catholic Servants of God, Founders of Roman Catholic Religious Communities, Indian Eastern Catholics, Indian Roman Catholic Archbishops, Indian Theologians, Servants of God, Syro-Malankara Catholics
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Geevarghese Ivanios

Servant of God Aboon
Geevarghese Mar Ivanios
Archbishop of Trivandrum
Geevarghese Ivanios, 1908
Native name ഗീവറുഗീസ് മാർ ഈവാനിയോസ്
Church Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
See Trivandrum, India
Appointed 11 June 1932
Term ended 15 July 1953
Predecessor None (seat created)
Successor Benedict Gregorios
Ordination 15 September 1908
by Vattasseril Dionysius
Consecration 1 May 1925
by Baselios Geevarghese I
Personal details
Birth name Geevarghese Panickeruveetil
Born (1882-09-21)21 September 1882
Mavelikkara, Kerala
Died 15 July 1953(1953-07-15) (aged 70)
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
Nationality  India
Previous post Metropolitan Archbishop of Malankara Orthodox Church

Archbishop Aboon Geevarghese Mar Ivanios (born 21 September 1882 as Geevarghese Panickeruveetil) was the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum and the main architect of the Reunion Movement.[1] He is one among the founders of the Bethany Ashram order of monks. He was the first M.A. degree holder in the Malankara Church. He also served as the Principal of the M.D seminary High School and as a professor at the Serampore College.


  • Family history, childhood and education 1
  • Deacon 2
  • Priestly life 3
  • Professorship in Serampore 4
  • Foundation of the Bethany Ashram 5
  • Bishop of Bethany 6
  • Ecclesial communion 7
  • Establishment of the Syro-Malankara Catholic hierarchy 8
  • Ecumenical endeavours and cultural development of the society 9
  • Silver Jubilee of Episcopal Ordination 10
  • Death 11
  • Writings 12
  • Servant of God 13
  • Canonical Inspection 14
  • See also 15
  • Sources 16
  • References 17
  • External links 18

Family history, childhood and education

Geevarghese Panicker was born in Mavelikkara, Kerala, India, on 21 September 1882 to Thomas Panicker and Annamma Panicker, a descendant of the aristocratic tharavad of Panickervettil in Mavelikara within the erst-while Indian princely state of Travancore currently in the Alappuzha district of Kerala.

The Panickervettil family were honoured with the title of 'Mylitta Panicker' bestowed upon by the Maharaja of Travancore Marthanda Varma, Travancore Royal Family. Panicker's family lineage also include him being grandson of the aristocratic Saint Thomas Christian family Polachirackal with their tharavad in Mavelikkara. The Polachirackal House held the highest-ranking hereditary title for a Christian family in Travancore being of nobility titled as Tharakan and were of the highest ranking Christian peer to the Maharaja of Travancore. The Polachirackal House through the Saint Thomas Christian Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is acknowledged by Pope Pius XI and continues to do so by the Holy See of the Vatican City as one of the oldest Saint Thomas Christian families. The House had evolved from accumulating one of the largest wealth through merchant trading from their oligopoly in black pepper commodity trading as part of the spice trade controlled by the Dutch East India during the age of discovery between the 16th and 18th centuries. The House's excessive wealth allowed them to become the court financiers to Marthanda Varma and financed the Kingdom of Venad during the Travancore–Dutch War in the 18th century against the Dutch East India Company. This culminated in funding the Battle of Colachel in 1741 leading to Marthanda Varma defeating of the Dutch East India Company which was the first loss of its kind by a European naval super-power in the Indian sub-continent. The House were signatories to the Treaty of Mavelikkara in 1753 contributing to the establishment of the Kingdom of Travancore, diminishing the role of the Dutch East India Company in the Indian subcontinent and leading to the rise of the Maharaja of Travancore Marthanda Varma and the Travancore Royal Family. Panicker had his early education in Protestant and government schools. From 1897 he attended M. D. Seminary High School, Kottayam. In 1899 he completed his matriculation education before which he received minor orders (of clerical life) on 20 September 1898.


He was ordained deacon by Pulikkottil Dionysius on 9 January 1900, he then continued his studies at CMS College, Kottayam and obtained a bachelor's degree in Economics and Indian History from [2]

Priestly life

He was ordained to the priesthood as P.T. Geevarghese on 15 September 1908 by Vattasseril Dionysius. Geevarghese was popularly known as M A Achan, as he was the first priest with an MA degree in Malankara.[3] At the same time he took the initiative to empower the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church with hierarchical autonomy. He became instrumental to erect Catholicate for the Malankara Church on 5 September 1912.

Professorship in Serampore

In 1912 Vattasseril Mar Dionysius received an invitation to attend a conference at Calcutta. Mar Dionysius selected Fr. Geevarghese to accompany him to Calcutta to attend the conference. At the conference they met Dr. Howels the principal of Serampore College who requested the Metropolitan to avail the service of Geevarghese as the professor of the College. The Metropolitan permitted Geevarghese to take up the task. He made use of this opportunity to educate the Malankara Youth. About 20 young people from Kerala reached Calcutta for higher education.[4]

At Serampore Geevarghese got more time for prayer and contemplation. He came across the writings of St. Basil on monasticism. Basilian monastic vision had a great influence on him. Besides the visits to the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi and Santiniketan of Rabindranath Tagore gave him a new vision of Indian Sanyasa (monasticism). These experiences made him to reflect upon starting an order of missionaries to carry out the task of evangelization in India.[5] Slowly the residence of Geevarghese and his followers at Serampore became an Ashram (Monastery), and they began to live a sort of religious life according to the monastic rules of St. Basil, adapting them to Indian culture.[6] As he accepted this as his way of life, he resigned from the Serampore College.

Foundation of the Bethany Ashram

On his return from Calcutta, Geevarghese looked for a location to establish an ashram. One of his friends E. John Vakeel donated 100 acres (400,000 m2) of land at Mundanmala, Ranni-Perunadu, Kerala at the meeting place of the rivers Pampa and Kakkatt. The place was thickly filled with thorny bushes and herbs. Geevarghese and his followers built a small thatched hut made out of the branches of trees and bamboo. This turned to be the first Ashram in Malankara on 15 August 1919. He prayerfully searched for a name for the Ashram and opened the Bible and he got the word "Bethany". He meditated upon it and came to the conclusion that it is an apt name for a religious order which upholds both contemplation and action.[7] Eventually the Bethany Ashram became a place of pilgrimage and spiritual experience. Spiritual retreats and discourses were given by Geevarghese especially in the Passion Week. Geevarghese envisioned the Ashram also being a shelter for the poor and the marginalised. Along with the Ashram he started a house for the orphans.

While at Serampore Geevarghese was thinking of the empowerment of the Syrian Christian women through education. To realize this ideal he took initiative to give education and training to the selected group of young girls with the help of the Epiphany Sisters of England working at Serampore. He founded the Bethany Madhom (convent) for the women religious in 1925.

Bishop of Bethany

It was decided by the Malankara Synod to ordain P.T. Geevarghese as the bishop of Bethany. He was ordained a bishop of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church by Catholicos Beselios Geevarghese I on 1 May 1925. He received the name Geevarghese Mar Ivanios.[8] After the consecration there was a meeting to congratulate Ivanios. In this meeting Ivanios expressed his desire that the church might become one flock under one shepherd.

In the meantime the civil court's decision on the litigation for a large sum of money (Vattippanam) was declared in favour of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Malankara Church had stepped out of communion with Rome after Coonan Cross Oath in 1653 and started functioning independently as a church. This communion with Roman Catholics started in Kerala in 1599, with the Synod of Udayamperoor (Diamper), by the Latin Bishop Menezis. Until then, Marthoma Nazranis (St. Thomas Christians) had connections with St. Thomas churches of the East.

Ecclesial communion

Under Ivanios, communion with the Catholic Church was achieved as he was jealous Mar Gregorios Kallasseril was chosen as Catholicos over him. On 20 September 1930 betrayed the Orthodox Church and Ma Ivanios made the Catholic profession of faith before Bishop Aloysius Maria Benziger, OCD, the Bishop of Kollam along with Mar Theophilos, the suffragan bishop of Bethany, John Kuzhinapurath OIC, Alexander Attupurath OIC and Chacko Kiliyileth. Some of the members of both the Bethany orders joined with the Roman Catholic Church establishing the Eastern Catholic sui iuris Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in India.[9]

Establishment of the Syro-Malankara Catholic hierarchy

In 1932 Ivanios made a pilgrimage to Rome and met Pope Pius XI. Ivanios received the pallium. He also participated in the thirty second Eucharistic Congress held at Dublin, Ireland. There he met G.K. Chesterton, who said of Ivanios "The dignified Indian gentleman, who represented this faroff triumph in the Orient, had changed his neighbours by bringing them to the Roman Communion."[10]

On his return from Rome, Ivanios made efforts to build up the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. Pope Pius XI established the Syro-Malankara Catholic Hierarchy on 11 June 1932 through the apostolic constitution Cristo pastorum principi.[11]

Ecumenical endeavours and cultural development of the society

Ivanios sent missionaries to different parts of the land. Besides the newely joined Bishops and Priests from different Malankara denominations, he received missionaries from the Syro Malabar Church. Joseph Kuzhinjalil, the founder of the congregation of the Daughters of Mary, was a missionary appointed by Ivanios to work in the southern parts of the land. Under Ivanios's leadership about 75 priests were joined from different denominations of the Malankara Church. About 150 parishes including mission stations were established.[12]

Ivanios established about 50 schools, and one 'A' grade college, named George Bernard Shaw.

Silver Jubilee of Episcopal Ordination

The Silver Jubilee of the Episcopal Ordination of Ivanios was celebrated in 1951, and Pope Pius XII wrote to him remembering the reconciliation.[14]


Ivanios died on 15 July 1953, and was buried at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Pattom, Trivandrum.


Girideepam - Mountain Lamp, Trans. Sr. Rehmas SIC, Cause of Canonization of Mar Ivanios, Trivandrum, 2006.

The Sacrament of Confession: A Meditative Study, Trans. Fr. Samuel Thaikkoottathil, Cause of Canonization of Mar Ivanios, Trivandrum, 2006.

The Holy Qurbono: An Appraisal and Meditation, Trans. Dr. Antony Valiyavilayil, Cause of Canonization of Mar Ivanios, Trivandrum, 2006.

The Liturgical Year: A Theological Reflection, Trans. Fr. Samuel Thaikkoottathil, Cause of Canonization of Mar Ivanios, Trivandrum, 2006.

A Guide to Malankara Religious Life, Trans. Fr. Samuel Thaikkoottathil, Cause of Canonization of Mar Ivanios, Trivandrum, 2006.

Servant of God

Ivanios was declared Servant of God (Daivadasan) on 14 July 2007, the day prior to the 54th anniversary of his death. The proclamation was read by Cardinal Cleemis at St. Mary’s Malankara Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Trivandrum, India. Cleemis is the first head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church to be designated as a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church.

Canonical Inspection

The mortal remains of Ivanios were exhumed by a 21-member team comprising doctors and theologians at the St Mary's Cathedral, Pattom on 23 June 2014, fulfilling one of the procedures needed for his canonisation. The examination process, which began in the morning, was conducted in compliance with the procedures laid down by the Vatican. The rites began with prayers by Baselios Cleemis, Archbishop Thomas Mar Koorilos and the priests of the Syro-Malankara Church. M Soosai Pakiam, the Latin Archbishop of Thiruvananthapuram was present at the opening and closing ceremonies of the ritual. The remains were exhumed and examined in secrecy as prescribed by the laws of the clergy. The remains were later placed in a casket inside the cathedral for the public to offer prayers. By evening, the remains were placed back in the grave. Chief minister Oommen Chandy, speaker G Karthikeyan, deputy speaker N Shakthan, ministers K C Joseph, P J Joseph, V S Sivakumar and Anoop Jacob and MLAs visited the cathedral.[15]

See also


  • "His Grace Most Rev. Geevarghese Mar Ivanios O.I.C."; Bethany Ashram website, retrieved 10 January 2006
  • David Cheney. "Archbishop Ivanios Givergis Thomas Panikervitis". Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  • Maragaret Gibbons, Mar Ivanios (1882–1953) Archbishop of Trivandrum: The Story of Great Conversion, Dublin, 1962.
  • L. Moolaveettil, The Spiritual Life of Mar Ivanios, Kottayam, 1977.


  1. ^ "The reunion movement among the St Thomas Christians 19th and 20th centuries".  
  2. ^ Fr. Thomas Inchakkalody, Archbishop Mar Ivanios, Vol. 1, (2006) pp. 72-74.
  3. ^ Malayala Manorama, 29 July 1908 quoted in Fr. Thomas Inchakkalody, Archbishop Mar Ivanios Vol. 1 (2006), p. 89.
  4. ^ Fr. Thomas Inchakkalody, Archbishop Mar Ivanios Vol. 1, (2006), pp. 146-147
  5. ^ L. Moolaveettil, The Spiritual Life of Mar Ivanios, Kottayam, 1977, p.74
  6. ^ Fr. Thomas Kuzhinapurath, "Mar Ivanios: Bharata Christava Sanyasathinte Pravachakan", Deepika, 15 July 1997.
  7. ^ Fr. Thomas Inchakkalody, Archbishop Mar Ivanios (Vol.1), pp. 152-171
  8. ^ Rajan, Matthew (2004). "H.H. Baselios Geevarghese I - Second Catholicose". The Christian Light of Life 3 (12): 221–225. 
  9. ^ Fr. Thomas Inchyakkalody, Archbishop Mar Ivanios, Vol. 1, Kottayam, 2006, pp. 470-480.
  10. ^ G.K. Chesterton, From the Universe, quoted in Fr. Thomas Inchyakkalody, Archbishop Mar Ivanios, Vol. 2, Kottayam, 2006, p. 125.
  11. ^ Pius XI,Cristo pastorum principi in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, XXIV (1932) 289-292.
  12. ^ Syro-Malankara Catholic Directory, 1973
  13. ^ Fr. Thomas Inchyakkalody, Archbishop Mar Ivanios, Vol. 2, Kottayam, 2006, p. 225.
  14. ^ Pius XII, "Letter to Archbishop Mar Ivanios" quoted in M. Gibbons, Mar Ivanios (1882-1953) Archbishop of Trivandrum: The Story of a Great Conversion, Dublin, 1962, p.127.
  15. ^ "Mortal remains of Mar Ivanios exhumed". 

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
None (seat created)
Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum
Succeeded by
Benedict Mar Gregorios
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