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Mar Athanasius canonized as saint

By Our Staff Reporter

KOCHI, AUG. 20. The late Metropolitan Paulose Mar Athanasius of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, known as the `defender of faith' and the `Valiya Thirumeni of Aluva,' was canonized as saint by the Patriarch, Moran Mar Ignatius Zakka I, head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church.

The announcement was made at the Patriarchal Cathedral at Damascus, said the Catholicos, Mar Baselius Thomas I, at a press conference at the Elamkulam Church here today.

The Mar Athanasius was born at Nayathodu, Akapparambu, in 1869, and died on January 26, 1953. He had been selected Metropolitan of Malankara in 1935.

The announcement had been made prior to the apostolic visit of the Patriarch to India from September 20. He is the second Indian to be raised to the status of sainthood after Chathuruthil Geevarghese Mar Gregorios (Parumala Thirumeni).

Faction claim

Mar Baselius Thomas I alsomade the announcement in this regard as per the instructions of the Patriarch at the Mar Sabor Aphroth Jacobite Syrian Church, Akapparambu, the parish church of the saint. He said that the announcement revealed the recognition given to the members of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India by the Holy See of Antioch and All the East.

The Catholicos said the Government should take the initiative to open the closed churches.

Allegations

Meanwhile, Church trustee, George Mathew, and the secretary, Thambu George Thukalan, said in a statement that the hurried attempts being made by the Orthodox faction to canonize Paulose Mar Athanasius as saint were an affront to his virtue.

They alleged that the Orthodox faction had tried to attack him during his lifetime. It might be the guilt associated with such attempts that now prompted the faction to take such steps, they added.

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