The Founder of the CMI Congregation : Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara


Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born on 10 February 1805 at Kainakary, Kerala. At the age of five he began his studies in a village school, called kalari. When he was 13, he joined the seminary at Pallipuram for his priestly training. While he was in the seminary, his parents and his eldest brother died of an epidemic. On 29 November 1829, he became a priest.

Saint Chavara was instrumental in founding two Catholic Religious Congregations - one for men, Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), and the other for women, Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC), for the spiritual renewal and all round development of the society.

Starting seven ashrams and a convent in different parts of Kerala, Chavara initiated a spiritual movement among the people of Kerala. He established the first Catholic Sanskrit School, a major seminary and a printing & publishing house at Mannanam. He directed that every church should start a school attached to it and encouraged children even poorer sections to attend the schools by supplying midday meal and dress for them. He founded a ‘Home of Charity’ to take of the destitute, the beggars, the uncared sick and the old. He also organized the first voluntary charitable association in Kerala for self-help among the needy.

Even in the midst of such manifold activities, he found time to write several literary and spiritual books in prose as well as verse. Among them, ‘Anastasyayude Rakthasakshyam’ is the first narrative poem and ‘Nalagamangal’ the first chronicle of history in Malayalam. He knew seven languages - Malayalam, Tamil, Sanskrit, Syriac, Latin, Italian and Portuguese.

Essentially, however, Saint Chavara was a man of prayer and great charity. He lived for 65 years and died on 3rd January 1871. His sanctity was first recognized by the Church, when Pope John Paul II beatified him at Kottayam (India) on 08 February1986. Later, he was canonized a "saint" at Saint Peter's Square, Rome by Pope Francis, on 23 November 2014. Saint Chavara is the heavenly patron of all CMI and CMC institutions. Let us pray to him to intercede before God for all our needs, especially for success in our studies.

Important Sayings of Saint Chavara

1. Children, you are God’s gift in the hands of your parents
2. The children who have a love of God and fear of God will love and respect their parents
3. Trust your mother, God will hear the prayers of the mother as yours
4. Food is for the body, so is wisdom for the intellect
5. Go to school regularly and recall to mind what is taught during the week
6. Laziness fosters evil habits
7. Let your friends be those who love God
8. The day in which you have not done any good to your fellowmen will not be recorded in your book of life
9. Keeping bad books is like hiding fire in hay
10. Regular reading of good books and meditating on them will illumine the mind
11. Attain punctuality by means of a regular timetable
12. You angels will be turned to devils, if you fall into evil situation
13. You ought to reach home before evening and take part in the evening prayers
14. Desire that others love you, and not that they fear you
15. Take special care to keep modesty while you sit, walk or lie down
16. You are to forgive and forget the wrongdoings of others
17. Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell who you are
18. What you earn by deceit and theft will melt like snow
19. Idleness is the mother of all vices and would induce one to the habit of drinking
20. Both stinginess and extravagance are equally sinful
21. Had you not lighted the lamp during the day time, you could have lit it during night
22. Do not insult or trouble the poor
23. God decides your vocation and it is you to choose it
24. If your parents have left any obligation of restitution, fulfill it with diligence and devotion
25. Even if you are grown in age and maturity, you have to respect your parents and submit to them
26. Do not hate your own brethren
27. It is the duty of children to look after their parents
28. Do not be the cause for your parents to shed tears on account of you
29. The humble man is the greatest among men
30. Since you belong to God, you have to give yourself back to God