KOTTAYAM: It is with profound grief we report the passing away of Baselius Marthoma Mathews II, former Catholicos of the East. He would have turned 91 on January 30. He was ailing for quite some time. The end came around 5.15 on Thursday (Jan.26) evening at the Devalokam Aramana here. He had voluntarily given up the position of Catholica Bava on October 25, 2005 to His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Didimos I due to failing health. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Jan. 28 around 3.00 p.m. at the Mount Horeb Asram Chapel in Sasathaamkotta, near Kollam.
When the Bava breathed his last, H. H. Baselius Marthoma Didimos I, Catholicos of the East and Metropolitans Mathews Mar Savarios and Zacharias Mar Anthonios were by his bedside. Bava is revered by devotees for having led the Orthodox Church with all devotion and piety during some of its very critical years. His body was kept for viewing at Devalokam Aramana and later taken to the Mar Elijah Cathedral in Kottayam. It will be taken from Kottayam to Sasathaamkotta through Adoor, Kottarakkara and Kundara. The body will not be taken out from the carrier, but churches, institutions and individuals will be allowed to pay homage. In honor of the Bava, educational institutions of Orthodox Church remain closed on Friday and Saturday. The Malankara Orthodox Church has also declared three days of mourning and H. H. Baselius Didimos I has canceled all his programs for the next ten days.
Bava was the sixth Catholicos of Malankara Orthodox Church. He was born as the eldest son of Idicula and Annamma of Puthuserazhikathu Puthen Veettil, in Perinad, Kollam on January 30, 1915. He did his theological studies at Basil Dayara in Pathanamthitta and Old Seminary, Kottayam. He was given Korooyo by H. H. Geevarghese II, Catholicos in 1938 and ordained a priest on May 25, 1941. He led monastic life at St. George Dayara in Othara. He was fondly called Angelachen. On May 15, 1953, he was ordained as a Bishop by H. H. Geevarghese II, Catholicos. He also holds the record of having been the longest head of any Syrian Church in Kerala after the Koonan Kurisu swearing. He was elected the successor to the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan (Catholicate Designate) at a meeting of Malankara Association in 1980.
After H. H. Baselius Mathews I gave up the position of Catholica Bava on April 29, 1991, he was ordained as the Catholicos of the East. He was the founder of the Ecumenical Movement in Kerala and served as the Nilackal Ecumenical Church Committee Chairman and President of Ecumenical Committee. He also met with various world religious heads, including the then Pope. He was an influential devotional speaker and gave a new lease of spiritual life to the monastic movements of the church. He founded many Ashrams, Convent Schools and Bala Bhavans (educational institutions for small kids). A very widely traveled religious head, he visited the Middle Eastern Countries, Europe and United States of America many times.
We at Orthodox Herald bow our heads in honor of our former religious head and our dear divine leader. He has been an inspiration to millions of believers of Orthodox faith and will continue to remain so. Let his soul rest in peace. We pray the Almighty God to give us the strength to bear the loss and courage to continue the faith in turbulent years ahead.