OCP News Service-26/12/14
Ajesh T Phillip (OCP Delegate of the Indian Sub-Continent & Chief Project Coordinator – MARP)
Dept. of Church Research and Studies – OCP Society
Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE Society- Metropolitan Alvares Julius Research Project
Special Courtesy to Mohammed Nihardheen and Arfan Akhtar
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CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF GOOD DEATH (BUONA MORTE CHURCH): THE CATHEDRAL AND HEADQUARTERS OF THE INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC CHURCH OF CEYLON, GOA, and INDIA (EXCLUDING MALABAR) UNDER THE INDIAN ORTHODOX MALANKARA CHURCH.
# The Headquarters of the Western-Latin Rite Community of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
# The historic Cathedral where St Gregorious of Parumala performed Episcopal Consecration.
# The Church visited by Legendary Metropolitans of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
# OCP Society becomes the first Pan-Orthodox Organization to make such historic Discovery.
# OCP Secretariat announces further research on the Western- Latin Rite through MARP
Colombo/ Sri Lanka: By the Grace of God, the OCP Society-MARP initiative has successfully rediscovered the lost Cathedral of Alvares Julius in Colombo, Sri Lanka which was once, the main Church and headquarters of the Western-Latin Rite Community of the Indian Orthodox Malankara Church. The Western-Latin Rite of the Church of Malabar (Indian Orthodox Malankara Orthodox Church) was a huge community and had many faithful, missions and congregations all over South India, Sri Lanka, some part of North East India and also outside India region. In recent years OCP-MARP initiative rediscovered two communities in Dindigul (Community of St Gregorious of Parumala) and Sempatty (St James Independent Catholic Church) and was handed over to the Chennai Diocese of the Indian Orthodox Church. The diocese has opened a Mission in Dindigul and aims to expand it further.
The church building is in good condition. The church is under the jurisdiction of the local Roman Catholic Archdiocese.
Further studies are required to learn the constitution, present status and their historical connections with the Malankara Orthodox Church.
The OCP Secretariat expressed its gratitude to Mr. Mohamed Nihardheen and Mr. Arfan Aktar who made all local arrangements in Colombo that paved way in rediscovering the historic church of Metropolitan Alvares Julius in Colombo.
A Brief History of the Cathedral
The church of Our Lady of Good Death was constructed by Portuguese Missionaries in 1847, but due to the Padrado- Propaganda issue the church was moved under the jurisdiction of the Independent Catholics of Ceylon (Old Catholic Movement). Since the 1850s the church remained under the control of Independent Catholic Mission (ICM).
After the amalgamation of ICM with the Church of Malabar (Malankara Orthodox Church) in 1886, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Good Death was proclaimed as the headquarters of ICM of Ceylon, presided by Dr. P M Lisboa Pinto, and Apostolic Prefect Fr. AFX Alvarez. He became the first Archbishop- Metropolitan of the Latin Rite Church of Indian Orthodox Malankara Church (Catholicate of the East) in 1889 by the name Alvarez Mar Julius I.
Fr Luis and Fr Antony were vicars during the period. In 1892 Metropolitan Athanasius Paul Kadavil, St. Gregorious of Parumala with a high-level delegation reached Colombo. They ordained Fr. Rene Villate as the Bishop of the Western Rite Church of North America at this church.
Fr. Villate reached Colombo during the last week of December 1891. He celebrated Divine Liturgy at Mid-night at the Bouna Morte Church (New year- 1st Jan 1892) which is located at the Hurlsdorf Hill of Colombo.
Bishops from Malankara reached Colombo on 10th May and on 14th Makaram (May) Thursday on the Feast of Ascension of our Lord, Fr. Villate was ordained as a Monk on the 17th of May. Then he was consecrated in the name Themothious I, as the Archbishop of North America. About 5000 People participated in the ceremony. AMERICAN COUNCIL honored all Bishops with the ORDER OF CROWN OF THROWN.
After Fr. Anthony, Fr L M Soares became the Vicar of the church till 1895 March, when he was moved to Southern Travancore and Fr Joseph De Mello was appointed as the parish priest. After Fr.De Mello, Fr. K B Mathews served the Parish. Fr J T M Alvares was the Parish Priest until 1949. Catholicos Baselius Geevarghese II and Metropolitan Alexios Theodosius have visited the cathedral in 1937.
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