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Kadamattathu Kathanar (Christian priest of Kadamattathu church) is a legendary person whose legends are closely related to the beginning of the Kadamattam Palli, one of the oldest church buildings that still exists in Kerala the land of Saint Thomas Christians. Kerala is the South western state of India. The church stands on a hill about 30 km from Ernakulam on the Moovattupuzha road. The history of this church was not written down, but lives through legends. The stories about Kadamattathu Kathanar embody the exaggerated experience of the people in that area giving expression through magic and sorcery. The stories relating to him tells that he had supernatural powers and being a Christian priest used his magic for the common good.
In medieval legends, history and fables were combined inextricably. The story of Kadamattathu Kathanar might be a mixture of history and fables. Currently there is no certain proof that he really existed, however the fact that a real priest lived in that area in the ninth century cannot be expelled. Tradition points out the existence of Christians in that area from the beginning of Christian Era.
The story of Kadamattathu Kathanar is as follows:
Poulose was born in a very poor Syrian Christian family in Kadamattathu, a small village in North Travancore. (now part of Kerala). People fondly called him Kochu Poulose. He had no siblings and his parents died when he was a child. Living in a small cottage with no one to look after, he felt depressed, left his home and went to a nearby church. The parish priest who passed that way saw this boy crying and praying on the door steps of his church. He took him to his house gave him shelter and food and cared for him like his own child.
Soon the parish priest had realized that this boy was religious, intelligent and efficient. So he was given a good education under a famous teacher. The priest himself took time to teach him Syriac and liturgy. In due course he was ordained as a deacon and people began to call him Deacon Poulose.
The priest had a herd of cattle. Every day a servant boy took them to the nearby hills for grazing. One day while he was out with the cattle on the hills, a tiger came and killed one of them. Afraid of the tiger the boy ran to the village and told the priest what had happened. The priest and Deacon Poulose, immediately summoned the people in the village and they went out in different directions searching for the cattle. By sunset all the cattle returned, except the one that was killed by the tiger.
But soon the priest realized that Deacon Poulose, who went in search of the cattle, did not return. Search parties went out in different directions that night. But there was no sign of the deacon. Days passed by, still he had not returned. Though the villagers thought that he was killed by the tiger, the priest believed that he was still alive somewhere.