Mar Abo | Feb 8 : Healer and Peace Maker
Mar Abo hailed from Nineveh, now in Iraq. He travelled through a number of places and reached Kollam. He was soon held in high esteem by the people from all walks of life due to his moral and spiritual conduct. He spread the gospel of God through his spiritual discourses at Kadamattom, Akaparambu, Kayamkulam, Niranam, Nilakkal, Thevalakkara and strengthened the tenets of Christianity in the region by establishing few Churches. The reason for his travel to India could have been to visit the tomb of St. Thomas and /or probably due to persecutions in the Persian empire. He traveled in India, by foot and reached Kollam. He lived on wild berries & fruits very tired, very hungry, starving for days together.
During one of his journeys to deliver spiritual message he felt tired and entered the wayside house and requested for food. The widow of Paaliyur Pakalomattom and her only son who stayed there did not have enough food to offer a guest. Gauging the pitiable situation, the Bishop said, “It is better to dine at the house of a poor person serving with purity of heart than a rich man’s extravagant meal.” Suddenly the widow saw that the 3 bowls which she had kept began to fill with food. She was surprised and realized that the man whom she was serving was not an ordinary man, but a Holy man. Witnessing the miracle, the widow’s only son became His disciple. This disciple was later renowned by the name of Kadamattam Kathanar.
On another occasion, Mar Abo cured the insane daughter of “Kartha”, a well known person at Kadamattam. As an act of his gratitude, “Kartha” donated a piece of land to build a Church, which is known today as Kadamattam Orthodox Church.
A number of people who were cured by the divine powers of this holy man accepted Christianity. Enraged by his miracles, some people began to conspire against him. Realizing the situation through spiritual vision, he called his disciple, Kadamatum Kathanar and gave his finger ring. He told him that whenever the ring falls off from his hand, the Bishop would have left this world (this happened before the passing away of Mar Abo). Kadamattam Kathanar unwillingly bid farewell to his Guru.
Thereafter, Mar Abo set off on his journey towards south till he reached Thevalakkara. There he was attracted by the Church consecrated in the name of St Mary, the kind-hearted, innocent and loving people of the village. So, he thought of spending the rest of his life at a place ‘chavadi’ in front of the Church. Even now, one can see the renovated ‘chavadi’ where he performed many of his miracles to help the sick and destitute irrespective of their caste, creed or religion. Thus, numerous miracles were performed by the Holy man through his Godly acts resulting in widespread love, affection and respect by the people of this region, which is prevalent even till date.
After an agonising search, Kadamattum Kathanar reached Thevalakkara to find that his believers had sorrowfully already laid him to rest at the north-western corner of ‘Madbaha’. Since the Kathanar could not see Mar Abo”s body before burial, he was tearfully praying at his cemetery, when Mar Abo’s hands appeared from the tomb to console his disciple. It was amazing to see the separated right hand of Mar Abo in his disciple’s hands. The priest and other believers took the hand and consecrated it at the southern wall of Kadamattam church. Due to the strong bond of Guru and his disciple, people from Kadamattam still regularly visit the tomb of Mar Abo.
As we lovingly remember a saint like Mar Abo and request his precious intercessory prayers to Christ our Lord, we should pray for the healing of our Church. Mar Abo is a great healer as he has received special grace for healing from Christ his Master. Mar Abo is a fine example of spiritual persons who came to our Church in India without any desire for material gains or for wielding authority over the churches here. He was in the order of those good shepherds who renounced worldly desires and undertook perilous journeys for the sake of the people of God. Our people loved them and were always very grateful for their teachings and the example of their lives. These saintly visitors too respected our people and never abused our hospitality to gain power or money.
The holy man who blesses his believers was known to get rid-off their anxieties and worries when they bow their head before him. The departed saint prays for us. So, the multitudes of people across religions who come and pray at his tomb celebrate Mar Abo Perunnal from 30 January to 8 February every year. The ancient St. Mary’s Orthodox Church of Thevalakara, now known as Martha Mariam Orthodox Syrian Church & Mar Abo Pilgrim Centre, is blessed by having the earthly remains and the spiritual presence of Mar Abo, the reputed popular saint from the Middle East.
Let his heavenly peace, blessing and healing be bestowed upon all of us. May the prayers of Saint Mar Abo bring healing and peace in our individual lives as well as in the life of our Church and country.