Re: Rare relic of Mary
- The Zunoro (Girdle) of the Holy Virgin Mary was discovered by the late
Patriarch Aphrem I Barsoum, in April 1953 in Homs, Syria. The booklet titled
"Excerpts from a Patriarchal statement on the Girdle of Our Lady the Virgin
Mary in the Church of Homs - Syria" records how the belt was discovered.
"In mid April of 1953, while scrutinizing some manuscripts, we [ His
Holiness Patriarch Aphrem Barsoum ] noticed a Garshuni [ Arabic written in
Syriac letters ] book containing stories and speeches. It appeared to be
bound with many papers piled over each other... When we opened the cover,
we noticed that it was composed of forty-six letters in Garshuni and Arabic
concerning the diocese of Homs and environs written a hundred odd years a
The Garshuni book, written in 1852 by the notables of the Archdiocese of
Syria and addressed to the notables of Mardin, Turkey, close to the
Monastery of Za'faran, the Patriarchal See, related the conditions of the
Archdiocese. Among the details given, it is related that while undertaking
the repair and enlargement of the Church of the Virgin Mary of the Girdle in
Homs ordered by Archbishop Peter Mousally, they found the girdle of our Lady
the Virgin buried in the altar.
According to this information, on July 20, 1953, His Holiness opened the
holy altar where he found a stone inscription, written in a beautiful
Garshuni hand, that read:
"In the year 59, this holy church was built in the days of the preacher
Mala'a, who is also called Elijah." It goes on to give the date of the
renovation of the church in 1852, during the period of Archbishop Julius
Peter, and the cities and villages that donated the expenses.
Inside the vessel under the stone inscription, an old font was discovered,
covered with a thick round copper sheet of great age. So in the presence of
His Eminence Alexandros, the Greek Orthodox bishop of Homs, Syria, His
Holiness the late Patriarch Aphrem I Barsoum opened the vessel which broke
due to its age. The holy girdle appeared wrapped up and showing signs of
great age. Both Bishop Alexandros and His Holiness witnessed this fact and
attested to it. Immediately, the news spread throughout the city and a crowd
from all the Christian denominations gathered to receive blessings from the
holy belt. (See http://www.axsworldmail.com/axswebs/webs/milanp/sunooro.htm
for related pictures).
A search on the web indicates that many Syriac Orthodox churches have small
portions from the girdle which are venerated in these churches. A portion of
the Zunoro was given to late H.G. Mor Gewargis Gregorios (Perumpilly
Thirumeni) by Patriarch Ya`qub III in 1974 and installed in the Perumpilly
Simhasana Church. It was opened for viewing by the public only from Aug 1-15
during the shunoyo fast; being the only church in Malankara that had a
portion of the girdle, thousands of pilgrims used to congregate at the
church in those days. During the apostolic visit of Patriarch Mor Zakka I
Iwas in 1982, a few other churches in Malankara were given portions of the
girdle. These include:
St. Mary's Church, Manarcad - Kottayam - Patriarch Mor Zakka I - Feb 22,
Soonoro Church, Elamkulam - Patriarch Mor Zakka I - Mar 10, 1982
St. Mary's Church, Kalamassery - Patriarch Mor Zakka I - Mar 1982
At http://www.stmaryssharjah.com/Dir%20Evangelistic.htm there is also
reference to a
St.Mary's Soonoro Jacobite Syrian Church, Ranjilady S.Kanara, Karnataka
State, which I assume also has a portion of the girdle.
The Church of our Lady of the Zunoro, Jacksonville, Florida received a
portion from Patriarch Mor Zakka I through Archbp Mor Aphrem Cyril who
installed it in that church on Jan 17, 1998. As far as I know, this is the
only church in the USA that currently has this honor.
I am not aware of the churches in the Middle East and its diaspora that have
portions of the girdle. If anyone has the information, it would be useful to
add to the list. Please provide information about the church, when a portion
of the zunoro was installed and by whom.
Thomas Joseph, Ph.D.
Web Master, Syriac Orthodox Resources [ http://sor.cua.edu/ ]
Tech. Editor, Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies [
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003 09:20:13 +0530
From: "George C Kuriakose" <georgeck@...>
Subject: Re: Rare relic of Mary to be on display in Mumbai (Bombay)
That was a very good history of the holy relic of Holy Soonoro.
But it is very surprising that people of the Sysrian Orthodox community do
not know about the churches where the Holy relic have been kept. I know of
three churches in India where the relic is kept:
1) St. Mary's Soonoro Church, Elamkulam, Ernakulam
2) St. Thomas Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, Anna Nagar, Chennai
3) St. Peter's Jacobite Church, Malad, Mumbai
So there are atleast two churches outside Kerala where the Holy Relic has
If someone could expand this list, It would be great
Thanks & regards
George C Kuriakose
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.
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