Baselios Marthoma Mathews II had a unique position among the heads of churches not only in India but in the world. Also he had the distinction of being the oldest serving Bishop of the Christian denomination in the world.
Baselios Marthoma Mathews II was born on January 30, 1915 at Kollam Perinad as the eldest son of Puthusserazhikathu Puthenveetil Idikkula and Annamma. Ordained as Deacon in 1938 and then as Priest in 1941, he was noted for his prayerful life and spiritual leadership. He had his religious training at the Kottayam Old Seminary and later at Basil Dayara, Pathanamthitta. Then he did his Bachelor of Divinity (BD) at the famous Bishop’s College, Calcutta. He had advanced theological studies at the General Theological Seminary, New York.
At the young age of thirty eight, on May 15, 1953, he was ordained as a Bishop of Orthodox Syrian church. Taking charge as Metropolitan of the Diocese of Kollam, he dedicated his service to the development of the Kollam Diocese. He was responsible for opening many educational institutions and hospitals in the diocese.
On May 1, 1980, the Malankara Syrian Christian Association which met at the M D Seminary, selected him as the successor to the throne of Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan. Later on 29 April, 1991 he was enthroned as the Catholocose of the Church at Paumala Seminary.
His Holiness was noted for his spiritual leadership and loving nature and could endear himself to everyone who came in contact with him. He was known as “Angel Priest” at that time. In October 2002 he attended the 10th International Christian-Muslim Conference at Manama in Behrain and was the chief guest of honour. He was friendly with leaders of other religions and encouraged all activities directed towards the progress and development of the nation and promotion of communal harmony and maintenance of peace in the country.He was person of ecumenical vision.
In the arena of education, His Holiness established several schools and professional colleges including Kottarakkara St Gregorious College, Adoor St Cyril’s College, Kottarakkara B.Ed. College, Chovallur TTI, Sasthamkotta Public School, Chovallur St George Higher Secondary School, Kalladakuttikonam ITI, engineering colleges in Peerumedu and Sasthamkotta. Around 24 schools were also run under the direct supervision of His Holiness.
His Holiness was also active in the field of social service. He established several hospitals in Kollam, including Mar Theodesius Hospital at Sasthamkotta. He played an important role in elevating the Kolenchery Medical Mission Hospital into a Medical College. His Holiness also paid special attention to the development of hospitals in Kangazha and Parumala.
Considering the miserable performance of Keralites in competitive examinations like civil services, he established a Civil Services Academy in Thiruvananthapuram, to provide adequate training for aspiring candidates. The activities of the academy have been commendable.
He initiated several programmes to facilitate aid to the poor for building houses, employment opportunities and also launched a group marriage programme for conducting marriages of those girls who hail from economically backward homes. These activities are proof of his social commitment.
The His Holiness the Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Didymos I had announced three days official mourning and 40 days special prayers as a mark of respect to the departed holy Father
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