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Re: Rare relic of Mary

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  • Thomas Joseph
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2003
      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 [
      http://syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye/ ]

      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)

      Dear All,

      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
      been kept.

      If someone could expand this list, It would be great

      Thanks & regards

      George C Kuriakose

      SOR-Forum@yahoogroups.com wrote:

      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'
      in Malayalam.

      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
      Zakka I.

      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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