Former head of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church and the longest-serving bishop in India Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom died of age-related ailments on Wednesday, a church spokesman said.
Mar Chrysostom, a centenarian, was discharged from a Medical College hospital in Thiruvalla on Tuesday.
He breathed his last at a private hospital in Kumbanad near in Thiruvalla at 1.15 am, the spokesman said.
He had celebrated his 104th birthday, a week ago, on April 27 while undergoing treatment at the Medical College Hospital.
His funeral would be held in Thiruvalla on Thursday.
A religious dignitary with a genuine humanitarian outlook and global vision, Mar Chrysostom was awarded Padma Bhushan by President Ram Nath Kovind in 2018.
He is credited with implementing and formulating many projects to improve the social, economic and cultural condition of the poor and deprived.
Dignitaries, including President Ramnath Kovind, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condoled the demise of the senior priest.
'Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan, one of longest serving bishops in India, had touched millions with his religiosity, compassion and service, specially to needy and downtrodden. He was honoured with Padma Vibhushan also. My condolences to his followers,' President Kovind tweeted.
In his tweet, Naidu said he was saddened by the demise of the bishop who has done yeoman service to humanity throughout his life.
Expressing anguish at the death of Mar Chrysostom, Modi said he would be remembered for his rich theological knowledge and many efforts to remove human suffering.
Paying tributes, Modi tweeted, 'Saddened by the demise of His Grace The Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan. He will be remembered for his rich theological knowledge and many efforts to remove human suffering. Condolences to the members of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church.'
Condoling the demise of the priest, Governor Khan tweeted, 'H.G #MarChrysostom Thirumeni conveyed spiritual wisdom with a touch of humour, making people smile as well as think of contributing to human welfare. My heartfelt condolences. May his soul rest in peace.'
Vijayan said the Metropolitan brought people together transcending the boundaries of religion and politics, cared for them and made them laugh.
'Beloved Thirumeni's passing is a loss to humanity, a void that cannot be filled. Respectful homage,' the chief minister tweeted.
Born on April 27, 1918 in Karthikappally, he had inherited the missionary zeal from his father.
After obtaining graduation from Union Christian (UC) College, Alwaye, he was attracted to missionary work and ordained as Deacon of the Church in 1944.
Nine years later, in 1953, he was consecrated as Bishop.
Mar Chrysostom became the Metropolitan of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church in 1999.
He was a bishop for 68 years.
Known for his pleasant attitude, the bishop was unparalleled with his touching style of speech full of humorous statements.
Many books and documentaries have been published containing his humorous speeches and talks.
Church officials said the mortal remains of the priest would be interred in the specially constructed tomb near to the St Thomas Mar Thoma Church, Thiruvalla, located in the SCS Campus at 3 pm on Thursday.
The mortal remains are currently kept at an auditorium on SCS Campus for viewing.
In the context of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Church has requested the followers to benefit from live streaming of the funeral service.