Dr. Ajesh T. Philip (Head & Chief Research Officer of OCP-MARP) – 22/11/18
The Last Wish of Mar Alvares Julius
According to father late P G Koshy (Vicar-General of Brahmavar), during his last days, Metropolitan Mar Alvares Julius was surrounded by his friends and well-wishers. The Bishop urged them to bury him in a simple place, preferably under an ‘unproductive’ coconut tree. As a result, the tree would bore coconuts and from the money obtained (by selling them) should be used to install a big cross on his tomb. This was the last wish of the great prelate of Goa.
The Grand Funeral of Metropolitan Mar Alvares Julius
Metropolitan Alvares passed away on September 23rd, 1923 at the Ribandar hospital in Panjim. According to usual practice those days, anyone who died at the hospital was buried at the hospital cemetery itself. However, the friends and well-wishers of Metropolitan Alvares did not allow an ‘infamous’ burial for the great prelate. According to Father P. G. Koshy of Brahmavar, friends and well-wishers of Mar Alvares contributed generously to buy the coffin and for the arrangement of the funeral ceremony. The corpse of Mar Alvares was covered with his episcopal attire, and the coffin was fully covered and decorated in a red cloth (pall also known as mort-cloth). The interior of the coffin was remodeled to enable ‘sitting position’. The body of Metropolitan Alvares was taken from the hospital and was moved to the Municipality building, where it was kept inside the large hall for the public to pay their last homage to the great son of Goa. Later the body of the great Prelate was moved from the Municipality hall to the St. Inez cemetery (Municipal Cemetery).
The Military band played funeral music and a large crowd followed the funeral procession. The funeral procession of late prelate passed through several places like Vasco Da Gama road, Conde De Torres Nova road, Alfonso De Albuquerque road, republic avenue (it was for the first time that a funeral procession was allowed to pass through these parts of the city) in Panjim.
Fr. P G. Koshy further states that many were weeping during the ceremony and around 5000 people attended the funeral ceremony. Europeans, Indians, Eurasians, and people from various socio-political and religious sectors of the society took part in the ceremony, which itself proves that Mar Alvares Julius was a well-known person who had profound influence among different sections of the society, especially among the poor and the needy. Funeral orations were delivered by several eminent people.
A Funeral Without Priests
According to Fr. P. G Koshy, the funeral of Metropolitan Alvares was the first of its kind that was held outside the Roman Catholic Church, without the presence of a Priest. It is quite sad to note that not a single priest attended the funeral (of Mar Alvares), which was one of the biggest events in Panjim during the time. Mar Alvares was laid to rest in one of the corners of the cemetery where non-believers and atheists were buried.
May the soul of the legendary Western Rite Orthodox Prelate of Ceylon, Goa, and India rest in eternal peace!!!
Koshy, Fr. (1923). The Late Metropolitan Mar Alvares Julius. Malayala Manorama, p.MOOO1.
Diario da Noite (1923). p.2.
Central Library documents, Panjim, Goa.
Personal archives of Geevarghese Thomas.
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