Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born on 10 February 1805 in Kainakary, a small village of Alleppey district in the Travancore state. After his primary education he joined the Pallipuram seminary attached to Saint Mary’s Church, Cherthala. Father Thomas Palackal was his malpan (professor of sacred sciences). He received his sub-diaconate in 1827 and diaconate in 1828. On 29 November 1829, he was ordained a priest at Saint Andrews Church, Arthunkal. From a very young age,Kuriakose was instructed to chant the name ‘Jesus’, as a result of which he eagerly wished to live a life dedicated to Jesus and the Church.
After his priestly ordination, he joined Father Thomas Palackal and Father Thomas Porukara, his malpans, and laid the foundation for a spiritual movement at Mannanam.. They established a residence at Mannanam in the year 1831 and named it ‘Beth Rauma’ (house on the hilltop). Beth Rauma had a humble beginning and grew into a dwelling place for a group of religious priests who, later, came to be known as Servants of the Immaculate Conception. This religious community at Mannanam laid the foundation for the congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI). Father Thomas Palackal and Father Thomas Porukara died in 1841 and 1846 respectively.
. From 1831 onwards Father Kuriakose engaged in various spiritual and welfare activities, such as starting a Sanskrit school at Mannanam for the educational development of the area, establishing the first wooden press in Kerala, renewing the Order of the Liturgy, popularising Sunday sermons and organizing annual retreats in parishes to facilitate the spiritual renewal of the people. In 1866, he founded the first Indian religious congregation for women, the Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC).
Saint Kuriakose spent the last seven years of his life at Koonammavu, Kerala, where he died on 3 January 1871 and was buried in Saint Philomena’s Church, Koonammavu. Later, on 24 May 1889, his mortal remains were transferred from Koonammavu and re¬in¬terred in the Saint Joseph’s Monastery Chapel at Mannanam, the mother house of the CMI congregation.
Saint Kuriakose Elias was well known for his sacrificial life and continues to be a modelof Christian virtue and a solace for many in their trials and tribulations. Many favours have been received through his intercession. SaintAlphonsa, the first saint of India, sought the intercession of Saint Kuriakose and was instantly cured of her illness. She had certified this cure by her own handwritten testimonial.
The canonization process of Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara began in 1956 and, on 8 February 1986, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II at Kottayam, Kerala.
The miraculous cure of the crippled feet of Joseph Pennaparampil from Calicut, Kerala, through the intercession of Saint Kuriakose was approved for the beatification. The miraculous cure of the alternating convergent squint eyes of Maria Jose Kottarathil from Pala, Kerala, was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Vatican, for the canonization of Saint Kuriakose. On 18 March 2014, Pope Francis signed the Decree approving Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara to be declared a saint.
On 23 November 2014, Kuriakose Elias Chavara was canonized at Rome by Pope Francis. The tomb, where the mortal remains of Saint Kuriakose are interred, is situated in front of the main altar of Saint Joseph’s Monastery Chapel at Mannanam.