Rare relic of Mary to be on display in Mumbai (Bombay)
Rare relic of Mary to be on display
By: Manoj Nair
September 1, 2003
A rare relic of Mary a part of the girdle worn by her
will be on display at a city church this week and is
expected to attract thousands of Christian pilgrims.
The relic, called the `Soonoro' or belt, will be on display
at St Peter's Jacobite Church, Malad, between September 1 and 8,
the period corresponding to the `Eight day Lent' called `Ettunombu'
The relic is a small piece of thread from the girdle believed
to have been worn by Mary. It was brought to Kerala from Syria
in the early eighties by the head of the Orthodox faith, Ignatius
The Soonoro is believed to have been in the possession of the
apostle St Thomas who brought it to India in the first century
AD, but was taken to Syria along with his mortal remains. Though
the girdle was interred in a church in Homs, Syria, and its
existence was forgotten after the church was pulled down for
renovation. It was rediscovered in 1953 and its antiquity and
genuineness endorsed by archaeologists and religious leaders alike,
says Mathew Thomas, secretary of the parish youth association of
St Peter's Jacobite Church.
The relic in the Malad church is a piece of the Soonoro presented
to a few churches in Kerala in 1982 by the visiting patriarch. "The
churches where the relic was installed attained special importance
and became places of pilgrimage," said Thomas. Though the relic has
been with the Malad church for the last six years, its presence in
the city is not a well-known fact.
"Even Christians, especially those belonging to the non-Orthodox
denominations are not aware of the relic," said Thomas.
The church vicar, father Wilson Jacob, said that it was a privilege
for the church to have the Soonoro. "In Kerala this Soonoro is
interred at many churches. But St Peter's Church in Malad is the only
church outside Kerala where the Holy Soonoro is interred," he said.
The relic is kept in a casket and worshippers will be allowed to
kiss and venerate it on September 8, the birthday of Mary.