About Thommachan

"The day we find the perfect church, it becomes imperfect the moment we join it."

Servant of God, Puthenparampil Thommechan

Puthenparampil Thommechan, the pride of the parish was a saintly soul similar to the cast and caliber of Saint Francis of Assisi. His pioneering efforts to sanctify the life of the ordinary people were very much in the manner and methods that had been adopted by that master and mentor whom he closely followed.

Thommechan was born on 8th of July 1836. His father was Philipose of Puthenparampil, Edathua and mother was Thresiamma of Karukayil, Champakulam. He was baptized at St. Mary’s Church, Champakulam. The boy was brought up with love and care by his beloved parents. But when Thommechan was about two years old, his father died. The sad and sorrowful mother armoured with strong faith and confidence in God courageously faced the challenge of bringing up the boy for God. She gave him good education in Malayalam and Tamil. He received sound religious and moral instructions at the hands of his mother. The fluency in Tamil helped him to read and study plenty of religious and devotional books including the Bible and the Lives of saints. The pious young man was prone to be prayerful, contemplative, ascetical and withdrawn. It was usual at that time for a boy to marry at the age of fifteen or sixteen. He wanted to lead an ascetic life. Owing to the loyalty to his mother he had to yield to her wishes and decided to marry. At the age of twenty he married Annamma, daughter of Mathechen Vadakkeveettil of Pulimcunnu Parish. In the normal course of his family life, a son and two daughters were born. The family had enough resources that kept it above want.

It was in 1865, Thommechan at the age of 28, called together a group of like-minded companions and decided to practise their piety. They chose a life of suffering and service. Thommechan got strands of coconutfibre and made an inner girdle around the waist. The sharp and strong bristles painfully pierced the body causing constant severe pain. They practised a life of penance and prayer, serving the poor and embracing poverty. They gave special care and service to the Harijans, the outcasts of the society.

One day, during a spiritual reading they came to know about the Franciscan third order founded by St. Francis of Assisi. Thommechan somehow got a copy of the rules of the third order and to their pleasant surprise they found the rules were similar to those they practised. In 1868 Thommechan and his friends approached witty and venerable Rev. Fr. Palakkunnel senior and requested him to enrolthem in the Franciscan third order. Realising their truth and worth, the senior priest prepared an ‘ankarka’, the long official dress of the third order. On 26th December 1868, the day of the feast of St. Stephen, Fr. Palakkunnel vested Thommechan with the Ankarkaat the Altar of St. Antony at the parish church of Kurumpanadam.Thommechan the first member of the third order in Kerala chose Louise as a surname. During those days men did not wear shirts covering the body and Thommechans long flowing Ankarka created an uproarin the society. But the European Bishop of the time approved his dress and gave out orders to the effect that all men should wear shirts.

Thommechan and his spiritual brothers started to spread the third order and as years passed they could create fraternities in several parishes in Travencore and Cochin. He made Poonthope, near Alappuzha as his centre of work. He established a church there in the name of St. Francis Assisi and a house for the destitute. As the head of the third order in Kerala he prepared rules to be practised. He stressed poverty, patience, humility and obedience.

In 1873 some miscreants made a petition against Thommechan with several false allegations to the Bishop. The Bishop took the matter seriously and ordered Thommechan to keep away from all the official duties of the third order. He was declared to be excluded from communion with the church on 30th December 1873. Thommechan used this time for another glorious work for Jesus Christ, the preaching of Gospel among the Harijans in Mannanam and Athirampuzha areas. After two months he was freed from the punishment and was allowed to work with the third order. Years after in 1889 Bishop Lovigne officially appointed him as the common head. By this time the membership of the third order in Kerala was above 3000.

Thommechan kept on fast in its severest fashion. He and his spiritual brothers spent several days in ‘Thapas’ in the thick forest in Koratty near Erumely. Mullapperiyar and Kurishumala were the other places they chose for meditation and prayer. Their first venture was in a cave on Mulamala in Nedumkunnam. The place was suggested by Fr. Palakkunnel who had already climbed the huge rock. At Koratty and Mullapperiyar they had to face the threats of wild animals.

The pioneer lay-Fransiscan Puthenparampil Thommachan Kerala Assissi was born at Edathua in 1836. He was instrumental in carrying the message of the Third order of franciscans throughout kerala.The simplicity of his life,care for those in distress and self-denial were exemplary .He was participant in founding the Franciscan Clarist Congragation(FCC) and Sisters of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament(SABS) in the diocese. In those days of extreme catechism his care for the Dalits brought many to the Christian faith.He was called for eternal reward on November 1,1908 Many Prayerfully approach his tomb.He was declared the first lay Servant of God in Kerala and thousands parcipate in his death anniversary observance.


His first pilgrimage was to the tomb of St. Thomas, the apostle at Mylapore on foot. The second was to see the sacred body of St. Francis Xavier and he had already visited St. Francis Church Kottar. His third attempt was to visit the Holy Lands. The problem of passport and foreign language prevented him from performing that pilgrimage. He could reach only up toHyderabad. It is recorded that the Edathua Church had given him Rs. 50 for the journey and he refunded the amount as he could not make the journey.

Towards the end of his life he spent more time at Edathua. Every morning he participated in the holy mass and prayed for a long time. Then he used to visit the vicar, Rev. Fr. Thomas Kurialacherry. Both of them practised spiritual exercises together. Thommechan was a member of the parish council. Once when he was a bit late, the vicar asked him to request pardon from the members by kneeling down before them. Thommechan gladly did it. He had to face the ill will of his wife and others for his attachments to the Harijans. There are famous episodes in his life that prove his pure justice and humility. By this time he could help in the formation of Adoration and Clarist Congregations. Towards the end of October 1908 he became ill and he knew his end was near. After the middle of the night of October 31st Rev. Fr. Thomas Kurialacherry gave him the last blessings. He died on 1st November, the day of the feast of all saints. He was given a solemn funeral and his body was laid in a separate sepulchre. In his funeral speech the vicar observed “I see Thommechan in heaven, in the presence of God”.

There began a flow of pilgrims to his grave to pray and beg forhis blessing. As years passed, many began to report the blessings they received through Thommechan. His Grace Mar Joseph Perumthottam, Arch Bishop of Changanacherry raised him to the position of the servant of God. Proceedings are in progress and it is expected that he will be soon raised to the position of the Venerable.