100-year-old Sadhu Ittiyavirah died due to his age-related illness at Jeevajyothi, his residence in Iramalappadi, Kothamangalam, Kerala, in India on March 14.
Throughout the course of his life, Sadhu Ittiyavirah served as an itinerant preacher, spiritual guide, renowned author, and social reformer who inspired many people.
Ittiyavirah, who preferred the term "God's tramp," left the Jesuit theological seminary just nine months before being ordained and spent the next 20 years travelling by foot throughout Kerala and other parts of India.
Before entering the Gujarat province of the Society of Jesus, he had joined the Army during the Second World War but soon came out of the regimental framework.
He spoke at over 60,000 venues about God's love based on the classics of major religions.
More than 7,000 articles for magazines and periodicals were written by him and he preached in several countries as well as writing 60 books in English and 38 in Malayalam.
As a result of his travels in northern India, he was titled "Sadhu" (sage).
Cardinal George Alencherry, the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church said, “His speeches gave a spiritual awakening to the listeners and also his spiritual visions will continue to influence humans in the future.”
The chairman of the Syro-Malabar Synodal Commission for Family, Laity, and Life, Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, stated, “Sadhu Ittiyavira is a personality who has become immortal through the pure conduct of life.”
Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council hailed him on his hundredth birthday in 2022 as a prophet of love because he preached the Gospel through his words and deeds and an innocent smile.
Ittiyavirah was born on March 18, 1922, as the son of Anna and Mathai Perumattikunnel at Kollappilly near Pala in the Kottayam district.
The travels of a sadhu, wearing a clothing that said, "God loves us," are a guide for people in search of love.
In the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Ittiyavirah formed a solar energy organization, Anusandhan, at Bhanpuri in Raipur to utilize solar energy practically for the common man.
In 1973, the Anusandhan Ashram was transferred to the Raipur Diocese.
In 1981, he received the Albert Schweitzer award for social work, which he spent largely on his organization.
Several of his friends and relatives have asked him to settle down in Kothamangalam and helped him buy 10 acres of land in Eramallor.
He married Lalykutty Manalel at 56, and his son Jomon teaches at St George Secondary School in Kothamangalam in India. - With inputs from Matters India
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