PATHANAMTHITTA: Thousands of believers offered prayers at the tomb of St. Gregorios, reverently called Parumala Thirumeni, at St. Paul’s and St. Peter’s Church on the banks of the Pampa at Parumala on Thursday.
The flow of the faithful to Parumala in separate processions from different parishes of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church from across the State continued till late evening.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-sponsored hartal did not affect Parumala as the party had exempted the pilgrim centre and pilgrimage processions from the hartal.
The pilgrimage groups were accorded a rousing reception when they reached Parumala.
The bishops and the clergy received the pilgrims at the church gate by extending lighted candles to them.
The pilgrims offered prayers and lit candles at the Saint’s tomb.
Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Mar Thoma Didymos I inaugurated the platinum jubilee celebrations of the canonisation of Mar Gregorios as the first saint of an Indian Church. Senior Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Osthathios presided over the function.
Orthodox Theological Seminary Principal Fr. K.M. George delivered the keynote address. Catholicos-designate Paulose Mar Milithios, Yuhanon Mar Chrysostomos, Zacharia Mar Theophilus, Transport Minister Mathew T. Thomas, Joseph M. Puthussery, MLA, and Parumala Seminary manager Fr. M.D. John also addressed the meeting.
The Catholicos released an intercessional prayer book compiled by Fr. M.D. John.
The Catholicos, accompanied by various bishops, led the apostolic benediction from the balcony of the church later in the evening. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, Paulose Mar Milithios, Thomas Mar Athanasius, Yuhanon Mar Chrysostomos, Zacharia Mar Theophilus, Yakoob Mar Irenaeus and Zacharia Mar Anthonios were among those who blessed the pilgrims at the benediction.
Saint’s feast today
The feast of St. Gregorios will be celebrated at Parumala on Friday. Yakoob Mar Irenaeus of the Chennai diocese will lead the holy Eucharist at the church at 4 a.m. and Thomas Mar Athanasius of the Chengannur diocese will be the chief celebrant of the holy Eucharist at 6 a.m.
The Malankara Metropolitan will lead the holy tri-mass at 8.30 am. The Catholicos will also inaugurate the annual meet of the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Students’ Movement in the forenoon.
The annual festival and pilgrimage week will come to a close with a holy procession in the afternoon.