Fr Placid Podipara

Fr. Placid Podipara, a member of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), was a distinguished scholar, who worked hard for regaining the identity of the Syro-Malabar Church, which was partially lost because of the historical vicissitudes. He was born on 3 October 1899 at Arpukara, near Kottayam, Kerala. After the priestly studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Mangalore he was ordained priest on 3 December 1927. He was the holder of three doctorates, namely, in Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law from Rome.


For twenty four years he served the Church as Professor at the Sholasticate of the CMI Congregation in Kerala. Moreover, he was engaged in various apostolic activities in the Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara and Latin eparchies, giving sermons and retreats, and taking classes. He was known for his clear exposition of the doctrine; many persons sought after him for counsel and spiritual direction. Fr. Placid was a close collaborator of Mar Ivanios and Mar Theophilos, bishops of the Syrian Orthodox Church in their attempts for the reunion with the Catholic Church, examining their liturgical books and giving them regular instructions in the Catholic doctrine. Even after the reunion in 1930, he continued to help them in many ways.

In 1954 Fr. Placid was called to Rome to take up greater responsibilities. Some among them were: Professor at Pontifical Oriental Institute and at the College "de Propaganda Fide", Consultor of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches (1953- 1978), peritus at the Second Vatican Council, Rector of the Malabar College for graduate priests. He published 37 books and nearly 85 articles in Indian and foreign languages. He returned to India in 1980 and was called to eternal rest on 27 April 1985.

Fr. Placid was the motivating force behind the restoration of the liturgical identity, especially the Qurbana of the Syro-Malabar Church. He collaborated with and inspired Cardinal Tisserant, the Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, to establish the St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kottyam for promoting Oriental studies and formation of the clergy. Another landmark in his achievement was the establishment of the eparchy of Thalassery in 1953. The restricted territory lying between the rivers Pampa and Baharathapuzha was extended in 1954 to the remaining parts of Kerala and to the neighbouring states. The establishment of the eparchy of Kalyan in 1988 for the immigrants in the Mumbai-Pune-Nasik regions was envisaged by Fr. Placid as early as in 1953. The same is the case of the mission eparchies entrusted to the Syro-Malabar Church from 1962 onwards. He advocated also for establishment of Syro-Malabar provinces of Latin religious congregations working among the Syro-Malabarians and having many members from that Church. Fr. Placid made considerable contributions in the Second Vatican Council as member of the Commission for the Oriental Churches and his theological vision is manifested in the Council decrees. He was also a staunch protagonist of inculturation in its authentic ecclesial sense.

Fr. Placid can be truly considered in the category of the Great, the towering personalities, who contributed most to the progress of the Syro-Malabar Church in the bygone centuries, and can be really said to be on par with the Fathers of the Church. His ecclesial and liturgical visions had made their impact on the Church through his numerous students; some of whom are bishops, professors at various seminaries or holding important responsibilities in various spheres of the Church.

Varghese Pathikulangara CMI


1. Chirayil, Joseph, Fr. Placid Oranusmaranam (Malayalam), Mannanam: St. Joseph’s Province, 1985

2. Christian Orient 7, 1-2(March-June 1986), Placid Special, pp. 5-14; 51-73

3. Navajeevaparishad, Nazrani Placid Sapthathi (Placid Special, Malayalam). Pala: Navajeevaparishad, 1969

4. Perumalil, Hormice, ed., Placid Sapthathi (Placid Special, English-Malayalam), Alleppey: Prakasam Publications, 1970

5. Pathikulangara, Varghese, ed., ‘Placidachan’ " A Souvenir to commemorate the Tenth Death Anniversary (April 27, 1995) of Very Rev. Prof. DDDr. Placid Joseph Podipara CMI, Kottayam: Denha Services 40, 1995

6. Vellian, Jacob, ed., The Malabar Church " Symposium in honour of Rev. Placid J. Podipara CMI, Roma: OCA 186, 1970