Fr R Z Noronha, Bishop Alvares
Udupi, Dec 6: Catholicos Paulose II, who is on his maiden apostolic tour of St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar and its chapels, on Sunday December 6, declared bishop Alvares Mar Julius and Fr R Z Noronha as ‘Regional Saints’ (Blessed) during the Sunday holy mass offered at St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar.
Regional saint is a step lower than the universal saint, the highest status which is posthumously conferred to any individual by the church. Thus, Udupi district gets to witness for the first time, two persons who lived and served at Brahmvar, being raised to the level of ‘Regional Saints’.
After the holy mass, the valedictory of the three-day visit of Baselios Marthoma Paulose II was held.
Fr CA Isaac, vicar general of St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian cathedral, Fr Lawrence Dsouza, Fr David Crasta, Fr Abraham Kuriakose, Fr Noel Lewis, Alan Rohan Vaz – convenor church renovation committee, Marton D’souza – Candle trustee, Ivan Suares-Member Malankara Managing Committee, Brahmavar diocese and Anil Rodrigues bid a farewell to Baselios Marthoma Paulos II during the short valedictory ceremony which was held soon after the holy mass.
Yakob Mar Elias and Mathai Mampally-Member, Malankara managing committee were also given farewell felicitation. Valedictory function was concluded by singing Laudate (Latin hymn from book of psalms) as one family.
Life of Metropolitan (Bishop) Alvares Mar Julius:
Born on 29th April 1836 in the region of Goa, currently a State of Indian Republic, Alvares Mar Julius was ordained as a priest of Catholic Order in 1869. As a priest and a staunch freedom fighter of Goa, the eminent personality, Fr Alvares, served in his land for spiritual and social upliftment of his countrymen for a span of eighteen years during 1869-1887. His philanthropy, patriotism and yearning for freedom from foreign Portuguese yoke, journalistic acumen and his aristocratic birth had won a good number of followers for him in Goa and South Canara. Due to the political and religious constraints of that time in his own region, Fr Alvares left Goa in 1887, geographically rerouted his mission area and started to concentrate his social and spiritual activities among his folks in Brahmawar.
On July 29, 1889, Alvares was consecrated as a Metropolitan (Bishop) with the title Alvares Mar Julius at the Old Seminary, Kottayam by Malankara Metropolitan Pulikkottil Mar Joseph Dionysius II and St Geevarghese Mar Gregorios (Parumala Thirumeni, the first canonized Saint of Malankara). The newly consecrated Metropolitan Mar Julius was appointed as the Archbishop of India and Ceylon for the diocesan area of outside Kerala of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
Alvares Mar Julius started the Brahmavar Mission in Karnataka in 1888. This mission was started in order to give spiritual leadership and to help them learn liturgy and catechism of the Church for those people newly joined to the Orthodox Church from the surrounding regions. He was the shepherd of over 5,000 faithfuls in Brahmawar who bestowed their allegiance to him.
In 1913, he left Brahmawar and went back to Goa. He had to suffer a lot of persecution at the hands of the Portuguese. He spent the rest of his life for collecting food for the poor people in Goa. His grace entered into eternal abode on September 23, 1923 at Ribandar, Panaji, Goa and interred mortal remains in Goa.
During his lifetime, he was known as educator, social worker, apostle of charity and patriot.
Posthumously, he came to be known more as a martyr and a saint. In the face of severe persecution, he stood for his faith. With time, more and more miracles were testified through his intercession.
Life of Fr Roque Zeferino Noronha, Brahmavar:
Fr Roque Zeferino Noronha was was born on October 20, 1850, at Angediva, Goa. He was the youngest son of Custadio Santana Noronha and Felicidade Dionisia Silveira.
Fr Noronha is the one who preached ‘Orthodox Faith’ to the coastal belt in undivided South Kanara viz Brahmavar, Sasthan, Kolalgiri, Kandlur, Barkur, Neelavar and so on and laid a strong foundation of faith.
Fr Noronha was impressed by the lifestyle and teachings of lamented Metropolitan his grace Alvares Mar Julius. As the consecration of Bishop was invoked as Mar Julius, the responsibility of St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral was handed over to Fr Noronha. He started to follow the footsteps of his role model in high spirits and accepted the ‘Orthodox Faith’. This was because he learnt that St Thomas had established the ‘Orthodox Community’ 2,000 years ago in Kerala, South India.
He established St Mary’s Church, Kandlur in 1907, and St Antony’s Church , Kolalgiri in 1923.
He was a good educationist, who believed in giving good education to the poor and needy. So he founded the Cosmopolitan Higher Primary School in 1916. The name of the school itself reveals the personality of Fr Noronha. Cosmopolitan meant to treat everyone equally. (The dictionary defines ‘Cosmopolitan’ as diverse, multiethnic or multicultural.)
Through his writings, he challenged his opponents, the ‘Colonial Christian Faith’, who had challenged his mighty faith. He built the foremost Brahmavar Church with his own hands. Besides this, he went far in the service of the ones in deep waters.
Right from the time he settled at Brahmavar, this place turned into a holy and historical pilgrimage centre. Along with this, the people of St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar became more devotional to their patron ‘Mother of Miracles, St Mary.’
Even after years of his death, his memory has taken deep roots in the hearts of the masses especially the elderly people of Brahmavar and Brahmavarians. There are lots of reasons behind this. The first and foremost is that Fr Noronha used to give medications. His medication was free of cost and never depended on one’s caste. He always lent a helping hand to the people. Though he never did any doctoring, he utilized his teachings from Goa to aid the poor and needy, which led to miracles. This made him popular and far famed. His spirituality was beyond comparison. He has already occupied a saint’s place in the minds of the people, all because of his prayers and medications.