St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born on 10 February 1805 in Kainakary, Kerala. At age 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 in the seminary, his parents and eldest brother died of an epidemic. On 29 November 1829, he became a priest. St. 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 of even poorer sections to attend the schools by supplying midday meals and dress for them. He founded a ‘Home of Charity to care for the destitute, the beggars, the uncared sick, and the old. He also organised the first voluntary charitable association in Kerala for self-help among those in need.
He found time to write several literary and spiritual books in prose and verse amid such manifold activities. Among them, ‘Anastasyayude Rakthasakshyam’ is the first narrative poem, and ‘Nalagamangal’ is the first chronicle of history in Malayalam. He knew seven languages – Malayalam, Tamil, Sanskrit, Syriac, Latin, Italian and Portuguese. St. Chavara is the heavenly patron of all CMI and CMC institutions. However, St. Chavara was a man of prayer and great charity. He recognised years and died on 3rd January 1871. The Church officially recognised his sanctity when Pope John declared him ‘Blessed’ on 08 February 1986, and Pope Francis declared him ‘Saint’ on 23rd November 2014 in Rome. Let us pray to him to intercede before God for all our needs, especially for success in our studies.