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Chavara, Kuriakose (Cyriac) Elias, Bl.


Priest, cofounder of the Syro-Malabar carmelites of mary immaculate and the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (see carmelite sisters congregation of the mother of carmel), and a pioneer figure in the Catholic Press in India; b. Kainakary, Kerala (Malabar), India, Feb. 10, 1805; d. Changanacherry, Koonammavu, Kerala, India, Jan. 3, 1871. Ordained in 1829, Chavara founded an institute that was canonically erected as a Carmelite congregation in 1855, when he was confirmed as its superior. He was appointed vicar-general of the Vicariate Apostolic of Verapoly in 1861. Two printing presses, set up by early Portuguese missionaries to Kerala in South India, had disappeared, and in 1844 Chavara was determined to reactivate this apostolate. He designed his own press and used type made by a local blacksmith, and a few years later he was able to send to the Congregation of the propagation of the faith in Rome copies of ten devotional and catechetical books that he had published. He also edited the liturgical books of the Syro-Malabar Church. In 1887, his press first issued Deepika, now the oldest daily paper in Malayalam, and in 1902, the Flower of Carmel, the most widely circulated Catholic magazine in Kerala. In 1963, the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala maintained approximately 20 publishing establishments, issuing four Catholic dailies, 12 weeklies or monthlies, and a large volume of other Catholic literature.

Chavara died after a long illness. In 1889, his body was transferred to Mannanam. The diocesan process for Chavara's beatification was inaugurated by the archbishop of Changanacherry on Jan. 3, 1958, and he was beatified by John Paul II Feb. 8, 1986, in Kerala together with Blessed Alphonsa muttathupandatu.

Feast: Jan. 3 (Carmelites).

Bibliography: Chavara carama'sathabdi, ed. h. perumalil (Alleppey 1971). Acta Apostolicae Sedis 78 (1986): 10761078. L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, no. 7 (1986): 67. w. herbstrith, Begegnung mit Indien und einem seiner grossen christlichen Pioniere Kuriackos Elias Chavara (Trier 1969). j. kanjiramattathil, The Pastoral Vision of Kuriakos Elias Chavara (Bangalore, India 1986). k. mathothu, Blessed Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara (Palai, India 1988).

[f. maurilius/

k. i. rabenstein]

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