St. Joseph's Monastery Church at Mannanam, 15 kms from Kottayam is a prominent Christian pilgrim center. The church was built by the blessed Father Kuriakose Elias of Chavara, who is among the most saintly figures in the annals of Syrian Catholic Church history. The mortal remains of this saintly priest are preserved here. Thousands of devotees gather here to pay homage to the saint every Saturday. The altar of the church is painted with gold filigree work. Every year on 3rd January, the feast of Blessed Chavara is celebrated with great devotion and solemnity.
Mannanam was the first house of the CMI Congregation (Mother House) of which the foundation stone was laid on 11 May 1831 by Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Fr. Thomas Palackal and Fr. Thomas Porukkara.
Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born on 10th February 1805 in Kainakary. After Seminary Education he was ordained priest in 1829 November29 at Arthunkal St. Andrew’s Church. Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara the first Indian who took vows in 1855 at Mannanam and starts the first Indigenous Congregation in India (CMI) and became the First Prior General of that congregation. In 1855 ten other priests also made their first vows before him. Mannanam was not merely the birthplace of the indigenous religious congregation it was also the birth place of many other firsts: the first indigenous seminary of the Malabar Church (1833), the first Catholic Sanskrit School in Kerala (1846), the first Catholic Printing Press in Kerala (1846),
Saint Chavara found that without proper education none of his efforts for the renewal of the Church and the transformation of the society would be effective. He understood the importance of Sanskrit in the cultural background of our country. Hence he established the Sanskrit School at Mannanam. He welcomed the students irrespective of caste and creed, rich and poor.
He started a printing press first in Catholic Church (Wooden Press) in 1846 at Mannanam and many spiritual books were printed in this. There is no area of human endeavor where the fingers of Saint Chavara have not touched. Besides the first house at Mannanam he started several religious houses in different parts of Kerala. Elthuruth, Vazhakulam, Ambazhakkad, Mutholy, Pulinkunnu and Koonammavu.