St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born on February 10, 1805, in Kainakary, near Alappuzha, Kerala. In his childhood, Kuriakose attended the village school. There he studied language and elementary sciences. He entered the seminary in 1818 in Pallipuram where Palackal Thoma Malpan was the Rector.  He was ordained a priest on November 29, 1829, at Arthunkal. On May 11, 1831, he laid the foundation stone for the first CMI house congregation. On December 8, 1855, he made the religious profession along with 10 other companions, taking the name ‘Kuriakose Elias of Holy Family.’

Chavara’s influence extended across various domains. He achieved many firsts in the history of the Kerala Church: establishing the first indigenous religious congregation for men (CMI), Sanskrit School, the Catholic printing press, and the Indian congregation for women (CMC). He was the first to edit and publish the East Syrian Breviary. In 1862, he created the first liturgical calendar in the Malabar Church, which remained in use until recent years. Through his efforts, Syriac was first printed in Kerala, and the initial prayer books in Malayalam were printed at Mannanam under his supervision.

Appointed as the Vicar-General of the Syro-Malabar Church by the Archbishop of Verapolly in 1861 during a schism threatening the Church of Kerala, he played a crucial role. Chavara pioneered popular education in Kerala, inspiring Catholics to establish schools in every parish alongside their churches. This is why schools in Kerala are commonly referred to as ‘Pailikkoodam,’ meaning a place for education attached to the church.

He passed away on January 3, 1871, in the odor of sanctity, leaving behind the esteemed reputation of a very holy monk. He was declared Blessed on February 8, 1986, by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, and he is now on the path to sainthood.