Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara , born on 10 February 1805 at Kainakary, Kerala was a man of prayer and great charity. When he was 13, he joined the seminary at Pallipuram for his priestly training. 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) on 11 May 1831 and was appointed as the first Prior General of the congregation in 1856. For women, he founded the Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC) on 13 February 1866, for the spiritual renewal and all round development of society.
On 8 June 1861, he was appointed as the Vicar General of the Syro- Malabar Church in Kerala. He lived for 65 years and died on 3 January 1871. His sanctity was officially recognized by the Church, when Pope John Paul II declared him ‘Blessed’ on 8 February 1986. Blessed Kuriakose Chavara was declared ‘Saint’ by Pope Francis on November 23, 2014 at Vatican. Saint Chavara is the heavenly patron of all CMI and CMC institutions.
Starting seven ashrams and a convent in different parts of Kerala, Saint 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 mid-day meal and dress for them. He founded a ‘Home for Charity’ to take care 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. Following his charism, more than 3000 members are working around the world in the CMI congregation.