by OCP on December 11, 2009

in Articles


(This article titled ‘Holy Brahmavar’ is written on the basis of the visit made by the OBL Forum Delegation to Brahmavar in November 2009)

It was indeed a great joy for the OBL Delegation to visit the Brahmavar Orthodox Church. Brahmavar Orthodox Community deserves a very special status in the history of the Indian Orthodox Church. The Indian Church which was confined within the boundaries of Kerala got a national outreach when the former Roman Catholic Priest Alvarez (His Grace Mar Julius Alvarez) and his group reunited with the Mother Orthodox Church.

Historical Background

St Mary's Syrian Cathedral - Brahmavar

St Mary's Syrian Cathedral - Brahmavar

Brahmavar is a small town located in the Uduppi Taluk in the State of Karnataka in India. The town is 13 Kilo meters away form Uduppi and is surrounded by the Kalliyanpur River. In the year 1678 a Roman Catholic Church (St Milagaris) was established in Brahmavar by the Padruado Missionaries who were under the realm of the Portuguese queen. The Church was destroyed by Tippu Sultan in 1784, but was reconstructed in 1806.

Inside the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

The power crisis between Portuguese missionaries and Propaganda Communities had its effects on Brahmavar. The majority of the people supported the Portuguese Missionaries and the Padruado Community. They strongly opposed the Propaganda Community and Roman Pope. Those who supported the Propaganda Community built Mount Rosary (1856) Church, which is one Kilo meter away from St Milagiri Church.

Orthodox Divine Liturgy

Orthodox Divine Liturgy

Later a peace pact was signed between the Roman Pope and the Portuguese King which made St Milagiris Church of Brahmavar a part of the Propaganda Community. Brahmavar Christians requested to reconsider the decision. But Rome did not reply favorably. ‘The Peace pact cannot be altered for three or four fishermen in Goa or for some drunkards and trouble makers in Kalliyanpuri’. The response from Rome was not at all satisfactory and it was an insult to the entire Brahmavar Christians. Hence the members of St Milagiris Church under the leadership of Father R L Nuronah protested against the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

Confession Table

Confession Table

In December 1889 Fr Alvarez reached Mangalore. He understood the real situation in Brahmavar and organized the discontented believers. A new Church was built for them in Brahmavar. Fr Nuronah was influenced by Fr Alvarez and he was very well attracted towards the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Fr Nuronah was given the leadership of the Brahmavar Orthodox Church, which had a membership of 4000 families. In the year 1889 on Easter Day Fr Nuronah celebrated the Holy Mass in the newly built Orthodox Church.

His Grace Mor Julius Alvarez

His Grace Alvariz Mor Julius Metropolitan

His Grace Alvariz Mor Julius Metropolitan

A Part of the Holy Relics of H G Alvariz Mor Julius

A Part of the Holy Relics of H G Alvariz Mor Julius

A former Roman Catholic Priest who joined the Indian Orthodox Church Fr Alvarez was consecrated the Metropolitan of India, Goa and Ceylon. He devoted most of life serving leprosy patients and poor sections of the society. Father Alvarez was the first person to reunite with the Orthodox Church from the Roman Catholic Latin Rite in India. Metropolitan Alvarez was very much persecuted by the Roman Catholics. He fought a brave war to protect the Orthodox faith irrespective of the cruelty inflicted on him and his followers by the Roman Church. But he faced a tragic end and was buried in one of the Municipal Graveyard in Panaji (Goa) without receiving an Orthodox Christian the funeral or burial due to an Orthodox prelate, on account of Roman persecution. Later the relics were recovered and moved to St Mary’s Orthodox Church in Panaji in 1979 under the direction of HIS Holiness Catholicos Matthews I of the East..

Saintly Padre Rock. Lopez. Nuronah – The Unsung Hero of the Orthodox Reunion Movement in India

Padre Rock Lopez Nuronah

Padre Nuronah was born in 1850. After completing basic education he joined the Rachol Royal Seminary in Goa. He was provided scholarship by the Government of Goa for Seminary education. After completing seminary education he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest on March 12, 1881 by Bishop Thomas De Almeda. He served as the assistant vicar of Salvador De Monte Church. Later Father Nurorah became the Vicar of Panaji Ribandr Church and finally reached Brahmavar, where he got reunited with the Mother Orthodox Church.

Padre Nuronah was a multifunctional personality. He was a great educator, a spiritual father, writer, and social reformer. The reunion with the Orthodox Church put Padre Nuronah in great trouble. He was always threatened by the Roman Catholic Church. Padre Nuronah was very much loved by the Brahmavar residents. He was very particular and strict about the Orthodox faith, especially, Orthodox prayers and sacraments. He motivated many people to participate in prayers through house visits.

Many a times the Roman Catholic Church tempted Brahmavar Orthodox Christians to join the Roman Church by offering rosary, pictures of saints and other valuable gifts. But Padre Nuronah successfully blocked all Roman attempts and confirmed his faithful in the Orthodox faith.

Books Written by Padre R L Nuronah

He had written a total of eight books of which the following five are still available. They are: The Hidden Treasure, Mor Julius Alvarez (1929), Mutual Differences (1930), Syrian Catholics and Roman Catholics Compared (1934), History of Rome (1934)

In his books Padre Nuronah publicly challenged the Roman Catholics and biblically proved that St. Peter never reached Rome and he never founded the Church in Rome and and he emphatically denied that St. Peter established his throne (Eee) in Rome. Padre Nuronah also challenged the Roman Catholics to pay 500 rupees (which was a a considerable amount then) or prove that he was wrong. He would definitely return to the Roman Church if they proved him wrong. But no one took the challenge.

Padre Nuronah was a great visionary in establishing educational institutions. He founded the COSMOPOLITAN School which is the first basic educational institution in Brahmavar. The School attracted many students irrespective of caste or creed or sex. Padre Nuronah provided great relief for many people who suffered from different kinds of diseases. He treated many people and provided them with food and shelter. Hundreds of them found relief under his care.

Padre suffered from diabetes towards the end of his life. He was persecuted by the Roman Catholic community which tried to force him back to the Roman Church. They even got an order from the local authorities to admit Padre Nuronah at the nearest hospital, a suspicious admission to jeopardize his life. But the timely intervention by Fr P. G. Varghese saved him from the cruel hands of Roman Catholics. The District Collector Humayun made an order in which he effectively blocked the Roman Catholics from entering the Brahmavar Church.

Tomb of Padre R L Nuronah

It has been stated that a cross appeared on the back of Padre Nuronah at least two years before his death. On July 23, 1936 Padre R L Nuronah had his last breath. He was buried at St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral in Brahmawar. It is reported that a large number of people, especially non-Christians, have received blessings from the intercession of Padre Nuronah after his death. Even at present thousands are seeking favours at the tomb of this unsung Saint. For the Brahmavarians, Padre Nuroah is a saint, who intercedes to God for the well being of their entire community.

The activities of Metropolitan Mor Julius Alvarez earned a large number of members for the Orthodox Church in places like Goa, Brahmavar, Mangalore, Tangavoor, Dindigal, Tiruchirappalli and Ceylon. But lack of proper care from the Center of the Church resulted in the disintegration of these communities. But there are around 850 Orthodox Christian families surviving in Brahmavar and this is due to the dynamic leadership of Padre Nuronah.

Modern Period

The Great Leaders of Brahmavar

The Great Leaders of Brahmavar

Priests such as Fr P G Koshy ( 1890-1935), Fr K K Kuriakos (1904-1986), Fr K T Varghese (1912-1986), and Fr Damian gave leadership to the Brahmavar Orthodox Community at different periods of time. These priests completely devoted their skills, time and energy for the growth of Brahmavar Community. They acted as strong communication bridges between the Malankara Orthodox Church and the Brahmavar Orthodox Christians. Their hard work helped Orthodoxy to survive in Brahmavar. The present Cathedral (St Mary’s Syrian Cathedral) was rebuilt during the times of Fr P G Koshy. In 1986 Very Rev Archimandrite Dr, N J Thomas was installed as the Vicar General of Brahmavar Orthodox community. The next two decades were considered to be the golden era of this community. He introduced the celebration of Eastern Syrian liturgy for all Sundays, earlier it was only celebrated once in a month. The liturgical services were held in the Latin Rite with its Konkini and Kannada translatons. Though many were hesitant to accept this change in the beginning, later the entire community accepted the beauty of the Eastern Liturgy and prayers. Konkini is the local language and Kannda is the regional language. Hieromonk G M Scariah took over the administration of Brahmavar on the retirement of Archimandrite Dr. N J Thomas.. At present Rev Fr Lawrence David Crasta is the Vicar General and Correspondent since Hieromonk G M Scariah has chosen to do his higher studies.

Brahmavar Orthodox Church- Data Base

Total Land- 25 Acers
Number of Families- 850


Cathedral- 1 (St Marys Syrian Cathedral)
Chapels- 5 (Sastan, Kurady, Kolalgiri, Kandloor, Hulikal)
Congregations- Mumbai, Banglore, Mandya, Kuwait, UAE


Fr David Crasta (Vicar General- Brahmavarian)
Fr Lawrence D’ Souza (Brahmavarian)
Fr D A Johnson
Fr V M Geevarghese
Fr Abraham Kuriakos


SMS Public School

SMS Public School

SMS Pre-university College

SMS Pre-university College

OSC Educational Society- Apex Body (General Administration and Manage Funds)

SMS Degree College
Two COSMOPOLITAN Higher Primary Schools
SMS Pre -University College
SMS English Medium School (State Syllabus)
SMS English Medium School(CBSE)

The above institutions are well managed with high quality faculties and infrastructure facilities and are leading educational institutions in Brahmavar. The OBL delegation was invited to attend the annual kindergarten celebrations at SMS English Medium School. The small kids amazed us by their performances. The Professional Academic Management System of the Brahmavar Orthodox Institutions is indeed a role model for many Church institutions in Kerala and else where.

Unique Characteristics

Copies of International Orthodox Magazines

Copies of International Orthodox Magazines

Brahmavar Orthodox Christians have a number of peculiar characteristics with regard to their culture, tradition, life style and prayer habits.

Perfomance of Kindergarden Students at SMS School

Performance of Kindergarten Students at SMS School

There is no monthly subscription for Parish members. Along with the orthodox feasts (Perunnal), they also celebrate the memorial feast of Metropolitan Julius Alvarez (September 23) and Fr Nuronah ( July 23). All Orthodox prayers have been translated to Konkni and Kannda languaes.

Hanging Lamp

Hanging Lamp

Local dish - Idly, Chicken and White Gram

Local dish - Idly, Chicken and White Gram

Icons inside the Church

Icons inside the Church

There are two feasts which are celebrated as part of the Latin tradition, Memorial service of All Saints (November 1) and memorial service of All Souls (November 2). The person who sponsors a major feast is known by the name ‘Sirginth’. He wore a special dress and carries an iron rode during the procession.

The World record holder in Philately Mr Daniel Manthro is a member of the Brahmavar Orthodox Church. He has the third position in the World and 1st in Asia for the collection of stamps in the category “Birds”.

Fr Aswin Fernadez (Mumbai), one of the well recognized Iconographers of the Church belongs to Brahmavar Orthodox Community.

Other Christian Communities

Latin Catholic Church in Brahmavar

Latin Catholic Church in Brahmavar

The Syrian Orthodox Church (Jacobite Syrian Church in India) has a Chapel, Retreat Center and an Old Age Home. The Latin Catholic Community owns a Church and a School.

It is very important to bring the Brahmavar Orthodox Community to the forefront of the Indian Orthodox Church.

Subin Varhese
OBL Forum

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  • Biju P Varghese

    It is nice attempt,the eyes of our church is getting open,where it was closed for some time atleast,the realmission for the 2012.Nice efforts,Keep it up

  • Ajoy Jacob George

    It is a great try to shed some light to the noblest deeds done by the community all these years without yearning for any publicity. So glad to hear about the spiritual growth and the earnest attempts by the concerned to share the Light of the Lord to the unbelievers and embellish the same in believers. It is time the Church focus on the same and provide infrastructure, finacial support and dedicated volunteers to work for the development of what St. Thomas aimed for, in India. May God bless the Church & those who work sincerely for the same. Ajoy Jacob George, Kuwait.

  • George Thomas

    It was really nice that some institution has taken the trouble to visit and see the forgotten brothers and sisters of our own family at least now. Our church leader ship should bring them to lime light without hesitation and without any more delays. God bless our church.
    The troubles taken by OBL will never get unnoticed and God will reward them for sure.
    George Thomas, Dallas, USA

  • Thomas Kuttikandathil, Houston.

    We can hope that the newly formed Bangalore diocese and its new Metropolitan will take keen interest and give utmost importance and attention for the development and upliftment and expansion of the Brahmavar church.

    Thomas Kuttikandathil,Houston,USA.

  • http://www.simons-shipping.com Shijo Chummar

    Please take necessary steps to bring this group to the main steam.

  • vishwasnehadharshanam

    it is a very good attempt to carricature the brahmawar orthodox community.congratulations.

  • Basil

    Hey ita gud work man.. bt u need to visit the St Mary’s Orthodox Church Goa to get knw better about Alvares Mar Julius.. tats where his relics rest…

  • fr david crast

    dear friends obl done a tremendous job. pls do visit brahmavar & know much about this unioue non malayali ortodox church in india.

  • Fr. Lawrence D Souza, Brahmavar

    A wonderful work you have done dear subin, and this is my request that a detailed history of orthodox brahmavarians should be published. Hereby i appriciate you and may god bless you.


    GREAT BISHOP His Grace Alvariz Mor Julius ,may GOD bring thousands to true orthodox flood ,with prayers


    A great work God Bless you!!!!, I’m grateful to know that there an orthodox chruch exist in India with its own chracatestics,its really an Eye opener to Malankara rite catholics,

    “””””The Indian Church which was confined within the boundaries of Kerala got a national outreach when the former Roman Catholic Priest Alvarez (His Grace Mar Julius Alvarez) and his group reunited with the Mother Orthodox Church””””””””””

  • sameh

    the indian orthodox church are in communion with the syriac and coptic church .. but it seems that some people unfortunatly want not to have syriac litturgy but latin roman one …

  • Koshy

    If we look from the Historical perspective, our church had never tried to expand our base and belief to other communities. The only exception is the captioned community. Our church must dedicate more resources and provide spiritual support to them. First of all, declare a separate Diocese for them, secondly, appoint a new Bishop from their Community. More priests to be ordained from their community by support from Nagpur Seminary. Make a master plan for the development of their community and institutions. These are few steps, which would obviously ensure the expansion or our church through different routes rather than contended with what we have at present.

  • jino v james

    i was really surprised to know these things ,surely it is part of INDIAN ,(malankara) ORTHODOX CHURCH . we all malankara x’ans have solute them ,because of there fought that happens aganist foreign cultures,as we did.

  • jobin

    good website. plz enter the photo of fr tm kuriakose mtd

  • Ronald Oliver

    Hi ,Mr. Subin, it’s a very good attempt to cllect the details and published thru this site.Am grateful to you.Being a community member of the am not much aware of the history.Could u post little more, if u can.
    Thanks alot.

  • Koshy

    Referring to my old post dated Apr 2010, I am very happy to note that a separate Diocese and bishop assigned for the community. As I had indicated earlier, this would expedite a greater leap towards progress. The new bishop is very active and within a short period, he has visited all its parishes. I think this community will gain more strength in due course.

  • Wilfred Menezes, Saudi Arabia

    This is nice to see history. Now what is relation between Rome catholic Pope.

  • ateet almeida

    my grand mother stay there florine almeida

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  • Fr.Bobby George

    A Great tremendous work done by you !!!

    Its really nice to see ……..that ……………Brahmavar became a new Diocese Of INDIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH………..

    Its nice to see that the Believers of the INDIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH………….are coming to know more about the Brahmavarian Community now……..

    May Almighty GOD bless us all !!!


    It is really a wonderful eye opener for many of us who do not know properly, the history of Brahmavar St.Marys Syrian Orthodox Church. In fact I was looking for information to be conveyed to our faithfuls, who will be meeting in Mumbai on July 24th to celebrate a Holy Mass in honour of
    Rev. Fr. Naronha. He is truly considered as a Saint by all his followers. In sickness, for success in business, career, exams, marriage, etc. you name it, his name is always remembered and when we visit Brahmavar, two (minimum) candles are lit on his grave without fail. TRULY A GREAT SAINT.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you everyone.

  • Thomas Paul

    Orthodox Viswasa Padana Samithy
    It was an inspiring occasion when I had visited Ribander St. Mary’s Church, Panaji, Goa; where the tomb of HG Alvarez Mar Julius was situated. It was more fascinating when I visited Brhamawar Cathedral and know more about Fr. Nurono.
    The Orthodox Church of India owes a lot to Alwarez and Nurono for the mission they done by reuniting the Ancient Marthoman Christians of Kongan region who were transformed to Latin, back to a Marthomman Heritage ancient Church possibly an earlier one than Rome.
    Latest innovative studies in Kongan region gives several clues about the Christians of ancient period about which references are in ACT OF YOODAS THOMMA, the second century book.

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  • Dale Griffith

    It is very sad to hear that the old Roman-Latin tradition has been destroyed in this church.

  • shaji Jacob

    The Malankara Orthox church should take active steps to strenghten the Brahmavar Orthodox church everywhere. I am ready to contribute financially.

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