St.Mary's Cathedral, Kothamangalam
|Metropolitan Bishop||Malankara See of Saint Thomas|
|Language||Suriyani Malayalam, Syriac language|
|Liturgy|| Malankara Rite |
Variant of West Syriac Rite
|Headquarters||Pazhaya Seminary (from 1815-1950s)|
|Founder|| Mar Thoma I (1653)|
Apostle Thomas through apostolic succession, by tradition.
|Origin||c. 1st century|
|Separations|| Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church |
Jacobite Syrian Christian Church (2002)
Mar Thoma Syrian Church (1898)
Malankara Catholic Church (1930)
Malabar Independent Syrian Church (1772)
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|Saint Thomas Christians|
|Saint Thomas · Thomas of Cana · Mar Sabor and Mar Proth · Tharisapalli plates · Synod of Diamper · Coonan Cross Oath|
|Crosses · Denominations · Churches · Syriac language · Music|
|Abraham Malpan · Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar · Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban · Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara · Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly · Mar Thoma I · Saint Alphonsa · Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi · Kariattil Mar Ousep · Geevarghese Dionysius of Vattasseril · Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala · Geevarghese Ivanios · Euphrasia Eluvathingal · Thoma of Villarvattom|
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|Christianity in India|
The Malankara Church was an Oriental Orthodox church of the Saint Thomas Christians of modern-day Kerala, India, with particular emphasis on the part of the community known as Puthenkuttukar ("New Party") that stood with Archdeacon Mar Thoma I in swearing to resist the authority of the Latin Catholic Portuguese Padroado in 1653 (Coonan Cross Oath). This faction soon entered into a relationship with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.By the turn of the 20th century, the Malankara Church split up into 5 churches. Including the two Oriental Orthodox churches, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church; the Eastern Catholic Malankara Syrian Catholic Church; and the two independent churches, the Mar Thoma Church and the Malabar Independent Syrian Church.
As part of the Saint Thomas Christian community, the church traced its origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.As an independent faction, the Malankara Church originated in the first major split within the Saint Thomas Christian community. Historically, the Thomas Christians had been united in leadership and liturgy, and were part of the Church of the East, based in Persia, which used the East Syriac Rite liturgy. However, the collapse of the Church of the East's hierarchy in Asia left the province of India effectively isolated. The Schism of 1552 led to the downfall of the Church of the East and a faction entered into communion with the Holy See of Rome. Church of the East Bishop Mar Abraham of Angamaly was appointed by Pope Pius IV (1559-65) as Metropolitan and Gate of all India of the Thomas Christians (Archbishop of Angamaly) in 1565 but he was not welcomed by the Latin Catholic Portuguese padroado ecclesiastical authorities. Throughout the 16th century, the Portuguese, recently established in Goa, forcefully drew the Thomas Christians into Latin Rite Catholicism. Resentment of these measures led the majority of the community to join the archdeacon, Mar Thoma I, in swearing never to submit to the Portuguese in the Coonan Cross Oath in 1653. Several months later Mar Thoma was ordained as the first indigenous Metropolitan of Malankara.
Following the Coonan Cross Oath, in 1661 Pope Alexander VII established, with the help of the Carmelites, a new East Syriac Rite hierarchy in communion with Rome for the Saint Thomas Christians; by the next year 84 of the 116 communities (Pazhayakuttukar, or "Old Party" faction) had joined, forming what is now the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. The remaining 32 communities stayed independent, and formed a relationship with the Syriac Orthodox Church.Over the next centuries this relationship strengthened, and the Malankara Church adopted a variant of the West Syriac Rite known as the Malankara Rite and entered into full communion with the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. However, between the 18th and 20th century, the Malankara Church experienced a series of splits, resulting in large numbers of followers breaking away.
In 1772, a Syriac Orthodox bishop consecrated Kattumangatt Kurien (Mar Cyril) as his successor against the wishes of the Metropolitan, Mar Dionysius I; Mar Cyril led a small faction that eventually became the independent Malabar Independent Syrian Church.In the 19th century, a reform movement under Abraham Malpan inspired by British Anglican missionaries led to the formation of the independent Mar Thoma Syrian Church, while the rest of the church, resistant to British influence, came under the direct jurisdiction of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch in 1876.
In 1912, a dispute over authority between supporters of the Malankara Metropolitan and supporters of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch finally divided the Malankara Church, with the former group becoming the essentially autocephalous (independent) Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church under the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan and the latter maintaining ties with the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch as the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church (also known as the Syriac Orthodox Church of India). Motions by the church leaders and two Supreme Court decisions in the 20th century failed to heal the rift.In 1930, a reunion group split away under Archbishop Geevarghese Mar Ivanios; they entered into communion with the Catholic Church as the Malankara Syrian Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church with its own liturgy.
The word Malankara derives from the name of the island of Maliankara near Muziris, which according to tradition was the first place Thomas the Apostle landed in India.Initially the terms "Malankara Christians" or "Malankara Nasranis" were applied to all Saint Thomas Christians, but following the split the term was generally restricted to the faction loyal to Mar Thoma I, distinguishing them from the Catholic faction. Later, many of the churches that subsequently branched off have maintained the word in their names.
At the time of the split, the branch affiliated with Mar Thoma was called the Puttankuttukar, or "New Party", while the branch that entered into Catholic obedience was designated the Pazhayakuttukar, or "Old Party".This latter group evolved into the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. These appellations have been somewhat controversial, as both groups considered themselves the true heirs to the Saint Thomas tradition, and saw the other as heretical.
Following the association with the Syriac Orthodox Church, the church was often known as the Malankara Syrian Church (Malayalam: മലങ്കര സുറിയാനി സഭ) in reference to their connection to the West Syriac tradition.As such they were often known as "Jacobites", "Syrian Jacobites", or "Jacobite Syrians", a reference to the Syriac Orthodox Church's connection to Jacob Baradaeus. After the split between Metropolitan- and the Patriarch-supporting factions, the Jacobite designation has been chiefly associated with the latter group, who emphasize their connection with Antioch.
As a Saint Thomas Christian group, the Malankara Church traced its origins to Thomas the Apostle, said to have proselytized in India in the 1st century.Different strains of the tradition have him arriving either by sea or by land. There is no direct contemporary evidence for Thomas coming to India, but such a trip would certainly have been possible for a Roman Jew to have made; communities such as the Cochin Jews and the Bene Israel are known to have existed in India around that time. The earliest text connecting Thomas to India is the Acts of Thomas , written in Edessa perhaps in the 2nd century. Some early Indian sources, such as the "Thomas Parvam" or "Song of Thomas", further expand on the tradition of the apostle's arrival and activities in India and beyond. Generally he is described as arriving in the neighbourhood of Maliankara and establishing Seven Churches, the Ezharapallikal: Cranganore (ml:കൊടുങ്ങല്ലൂര്), Paravur (Kottakavu)(ml:കോട്ടക്കാവ്), Palayoor (ml:പാലൂർ ), Gokkamangalam (ml:ഗോക്കമംഗലം), Niranam (ml:നിരണം ), Chayal (ml:ചായൽ ) and Kollam (Quilon) (ml:കൊല്ലം ). Eusebius of Caesarea mentions that his mentor Pantaenus found a Christian community in India in the 2nd century, while references to Thomas' Indian mission appear in the works of 3rd- and 4th-century writers of the Roman Empire, including Ambrose of Milan, Gregory of Nazianzus, Jerome, and Ephrem the Syrian, showing that the Thomas tradition was well established across the Christian world by that time.
Whatever the historicity of the Thomas tradition, the earliest organised Christian presence in India dates around the 3rd century, when East Syriac settlers and missionaries from Persia, members of what became the Church of the East or Nestorian Church, established themselves in Kerala.The Thomas Christians trace the further growth of their community to the mission of Thomas of Cana, a Nestorian from the Middle East said to have relocated to Kerala some time between the 4th and 8th century. The subgroup of the Saint Thomas Christians known as the Southists trace their lineage to the high-born Thomas of Cana, while the group known as the Northists claim descent from Thomas the Apostle's indigenous converts who intermarried with Thomas of Cana's children by his concubine or second wife.
As the community grew and immigration by East Syriac Christians increased, the connection with the Church of the East, centred in the Persian capital of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, strengthened. From the early 4th century the Patriarch of the Church of the East provided India with clergy, holy texts, and ecclesiastical infrastructure, and around 650 Patriarch Ishoyahb III solidified the Church of the East's jurisdiction over the Saint Thomas Christian community.In the 8th century Patriarch Timothy I organised the community as the Ecclesiastical Province of India, one of the church's illustrious Provinces of the Exterior. After this point the Province of India was headed by a metropolitan bishop, provided from Persia, the "Metropolitan-Bishop of the Seat of Saint Thomas and the Whole Christian Church of India". His metropolitan see was probably in Cranganore, or (perhaps nominally) in Mylapore, where the shrine of Thomas was located. Under him were a varying number of bishops, as well as a native Archdeacon, who had authority over the clergy and who wielded a great amount of secular power.
The Rulers of Kerala, in appreciation for their assistance, gave to the Malankara Nazranis, three deeds on copper plates. They gave the Nasranis various rights and privileges which were written on copper plates. These are known as Cheppeds, Royal Grants, Sasanam etc.
These plates detail privileges awarded to the community by the then rulers. These influenced the development of the social structure in Kerala and privileges, rules for the communities . These are considered as one of the most important legal documents in the history of Kerala.Three of these are still in the Orthodox Theological Seminary (Old Seminary) in Kottayam and two are at the Mar Thoma Church Headquarters in Tiruvalla.
The position of archdeacon – the highest for clergy who are not a bishop – had great importance in the church of India in the centuries leading up to the formation of an independent Malankara Church. Though technically subordinate to the metropolitan, the archdeacon wielded great ecclesiastical and secular power, to the extent that he was considered the secular leader of the community and served as effective head of the Indian Church in times when the province was absent a bishop. Unlike the metropolitan, who was evidently always an East Syriac sent by the patriarch, the archdeacon was a native Saint Thomas Christian. In the documented period the position was evidently hereditary, belonging to the Pakalomattam family, who claimed a privileged connection to Thomas the Apostle.
Details on the archidiaconate prior to the arrival of the Portuguese are elusive, but Patriarch Timothy I (780 – 823) called the Archdeacon of India the "head of the faithful in India", implying an elevated status by at least that time.In the recorded period of its history, the office of archdeacon was substantially different in India than in the rest of the Church of the East or other Christian churches. In the broader Church of the East, each bishop was attended by an archdeacon, but in India, there was only ever one archdeacon, even when the province had multiple bishops serving it.
Following the collapse of the Church of the East's hierarchy in most of Asia in the 14th century, India was effectively cut off from the church's heartland in Mesopotamia and formal contact was severed. By the late 15th century India had had no metropolitan for several generations, and the authority traditionally associated with him had been vested in the archdeacon.In 1491 the archdeacon sent envoys to the Patriarch of the Church of the East, as well as to the Coptic Pope of Alexandria and to the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, requesting a new bishop for India. The Patriarch of the Church of the East Shemʿon IV Basidi responded by consecrating two bishops, Thoma and Yuhanon, and dispatching them to India. These bishops helped rebuild the ecclesiastical infrastructure and reestablish fraternal ties with the patriarchate, but the years of separation had greatly affected the structure of the Indian church. Though receiving utmost respect, the metropolitan was treated as a guest in his own diocese; the Archdeacon was firmly established as the real power in the Malankara community.
At the time the Portuguese arrived in India in 1498, the Saint Thomas Christians were in a difficult position. Though prosperous owing to their large stake in the spice trade and protected by a formidable militia, the tumultuous political climate of the time had placed the small community under pressure from the forces of the powerful rajas of Calicut, Cochin, and the various smaller kingdoms in the area. When the Portuguese under Vasco da Gama arrived on the South Indian coast, the leaders of the Saint Thomas community greeted them and proffered a formal alliance to their fellow Christians.The Portuguese, who had keen interest in implanting themselves in the spice trade and in expanding the domain of their bellicose form of Christianity, jumped at this opportunity.
The Portuguese brought to India a particularly militant brand of Christianity, the product of several centuries of struggle during the Reconquista, which they hoped to spread across the world.Facilitating this objective was the Padroado Real , a series of treaties and decrees in which the Pope conferred upon the Portuguese government certain authority in ecclesiastical matters in the foreign territories they conquered. Upon reaching India the Portuguese quickly ensconced themselves in Goa and established a church hierarchy; soon they set themselves to bringing the native Christians under their dominion. Towards this goal, the colonial establishment felt it necessary to conduct the Saint Thomas Christians fully into the Latin Rite, both in bringing them into conformity with Latin church customs and in subjecting them to the authority of the Archbishop of Goa.
Following the death of Metropolitan Mar Jacob in 1552, the Portuguese became more aggressive in their efforts to subjugate the Saint Thomas Christians.Protests on the part of the natives were frustrated by events back in the Church of the East's Mesopotamian heartland, which left them devoid of consistent leadership. In 1552, the year of Jacob's death, a schism in the Church of the East resulted in there being two rival patriarchates, one of which entered into communion with the Catholic Church, and the other of which remained independent. At different times both patriarchs sent bishops to India, but the Portuguese were consistently able to outmaneuver the newcomers or else convert them to Latin Rite Catholicism outright. In 1575 the Padroado declared that neither patriarch could appoint prelates to the community without Portuguese consent, thereby cutting the Thomas Christians off from their hierarchy.
By 1599 the last Metropolitan, Abraham, had died, and the Archbishop of Goa, Aleixo de Menezes, had secured the submission of the young Archdeacon George, the highest remaining representative of the native church hierarchy.That year Menezes convened the Synod of Diamper, which instituted a number of structural and liturgical reforms to the Indian church. At the synod, the parishes were brought directly under the Archbishop's authority, certain "superstitious" customs were anathematized, and the traditional variant of the East Syriac Rite, was purged of elements unacceptable by the Latin standards. Though the Saint Thomas Christians were now formally part of the Catholic Church, the conduct of the Portuguese over the next decades fueled resentment in parts of the community, ultimately leading to open resistance.
Over the next several decades, tensions seethed between the Latin prelates and what remained of the native hierarchy. This came to a head in 1641 with the ascension of two new protagonists on either side of the contention: Francis Garcia, the new Archbishop of Kodungalloor, and Archdeacon Thomas, the nephew and successor to Archdeacon George.In 1652, the escalating situation was further complicated by the arrival in India of a mysterious figure named Ahatallah.
Ahatallah arrived in Mylapore in 1652, claiming to be the rightful Patriarch of Antioch who had been sent by the Catholic pope to serve as "Patriarch of the Whole of India and of China".Ahatallah's true biography is obscure, but some details have been established. He appears to have been a Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Damascus who converted to Catholicism and went to Rome in 1632. He then returned to Syria in order to bring the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Hidayat Allah into communion with Rome. He had not accomplished this by the time Hidayat Allah died in 1639, after which point Ahatallah began claiming he was Hidayat Allah's rightful successor. In 1646 he was in Egypt at the court of the Coptic Pope Mark VI, who dispatched him to India in 1652, evidently in response to a request for aid from Archdeacon Thomas. Reckoning him an impostor, the Portuguese arrested him, but allowed him to meet with members of the Saint Thomas Christian clergy, whom he impressed greatly. The Portuguese put him on a ship bound for Cochin and Goa, and Archdeacon Thomas led his militia to Cochin demanding to meet with the Patriarch. The Portuguese refused, asserting that he was a dangerous invader and that the ship had already sailed on to Goa.
Ahatallah was never heard from again in India, and rumours soon spread that Archbishop Garcia had disposed of him before he ever reached Goa.Contemporary accounts allege that he was drowned in Cochin harbour, or even that the Portuguese burned him at the stake. In reality, it appears that Ahatallah did in fact reach Goa, from whence he was sent on to Europe, but he evidently died in Paris before reaching Rome where his case was to be heard. In any event, Garcia's dismissiveness towards the Saint Thomas Christians' appeals only embittered the community further.
This was the last straw for the Saint Thomas Christians, and in 1653 Thomas and representatives of the community met at the Church of Our Lady in Mattancherry to take bold action. In a great ceremony before a crucifix and lighted candles, they swore a solemn oath that they would never obey Garcia or the Portuguese again, and that they accepted only the Archdeacon as their shepherd.The Malankara Church and all its successor churches regard this declaration, known as the Coonan Cross Oath (Malayalam: കൂനൻ കുരിശു സത്യം), after the outdoor cross in the churchyard, as the moment when their church regained its independence.
The oppressive rule of the Portuguese padroado provoked a violent reaction on the part of the indigenous Christian community. The first solemn protest took place in 1653, known as the Coonan Kurishu Satyam (Coonan Cross Oath). Under the leadership of Archdeacon Thoma, the St. Thomas Christians publicly took an oath in Mattancherry, Cochin, that they would not obey the Portuguese Catholic bishops and the Jesuit missionaries. Until the Portuguese arrival, Malankara Christians never even heard of the Roman Catholic Pope. Unfortunately there was no Metropolitan present in the Malankara Church at that time. Hence in the same year, at Alangad, Archdeacon Thoma was ordained, by the laying on of hands of twelve priests, as the first known indigenous Metropolitan of Kerala, under the name Mar Thoma I. The Portuguese missionaries attempted for reconciliation with Saint Thomas Christians but was not successful. Later Pope Alexander VII sent the Syrian bishop Joseph Sebastiani at the head of a Carmelite delegation who succeeded in convincing majority of Saint Thomas Christians, including Palliveettil Chandy Kathanar and Kadavil Chandy Kathanar that the consecration of Archdeacon as Metropolitan was not legitimate as per the traditional apostolic standards. Later Palliveettil Chandy Kathanar was consecrated as the bishop for the Syriac CatholicsThis led to the first permanent split in the Saint Thomas Christian community. Thereafter, the faction affiliated with the Catholic Church under Parambil Mar Chandy was designated the Pazhayakoottukar, or "Old Party", while the branch affiliated with Mar Thoma was called the Puthankoottukar, or "New Party". These appellations have been somewhat controversial, as both groups considered themselves the true heirs to the Saint Thomas tradition, and saw the other as heretical.
After the Coonan Cross Oath, between 1661 and 1662, out of the 116 churches, the Catholics claimed eighty-four churches, and the Archdeacon Mar Thoma I with thirty-two churches. The eighty-four churches and their congregations were the body from which the Syro Malabar Catholic Church and Chaldean Syrian Church have descended. The other thirty-two churches and their congregations were the body from which the Malankara Syrian Churches (Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and Malabar Independent Syrian Church originated.The Catholic faction constantly challenged the legitimacy of the consecration of Archdeacon as Metropolitan .This made it essential to rectify the illegitimacy of the consecration of Archdeacon as Metropolitan. In 1665, Mar Gregorios Abdul Jaleel, a Bishop sent by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch arrived in India and the Saint Thomas Christians under the leadership of the Archdeacon welcomed him. Gregorios Abdal Jaleel regularised the consecration of Archdeacon as Metropolitan as per the apostolic standards of Kaiveppu (traditional legitimate way of laying hands by a valid Bishop). This resulted in the spiritual authority of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch and the reaffirmation of the orthodox faith in the Church. The 18th century saw the gradual introduction of West Syriac liturgy and script to the Malabar Coast, a process that continued through the 19th century.
The arrival of Mar Gregorios in 1665, marked the introduction of Oriental Orthodoxy in the Malankara Church.
In 1912, a Catholicate was instituted in Malankara by the Syriac orthodox Patriarch Abdul Masih, thereby starting a century of legal proceedings between factions of the church which supported the Catholicate, and those who opposed it on behalf of the claims that, the Abdul Masih was excommunicated.
The Malankara Church experienced a series of splits over the centuries, resulting in the formation of several churches, some of which embraced the jurisdiction of foreign churches, while others remained autocephalous and autonomous churches.
The churches that share the Malankara Church tradition are:
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) also known as the Malankara Church and the Indian Orthodox Church, is an autocephalous (independent) church based in Kerala, India. Part of Oriental Orthodoxy, it is one of the oldest Christian communities in Asia. The church belongs to India's Saint Thomas Christian population. According to sacred tradition, the church originated in the missions of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The autocephalous Catholicos of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan enthroned on the Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas is the primate of the church, presently His Holiness Moran Mor Baselios Marthoma Paulose II. The church employs the Malankara Rite, an Indian form of the West Syriac liturgical rite.
The Saint Thomas Christians, also called Syrian Christians of India, Nasrani or Malankara Nasrani or Nasrani Mappila, are an ethnoreligious community of Indian (Malayali) Syriac Christians from Kerala, India, who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The terms Syrian or Syriac relate not to their ethnicity but to their historical, religious, and liturgical connection to Syriac Christianity. Nasrani is an Arabic term for "Christian" that emerges from the Greek word Nazōraioi translated in English to Nazarene, the Nazarenes were one of the earliest Christian communities of Jewish origin dating back to the 1st century AD.
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church also known as the Malankara Syrian Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic autonomous particular church in full communion with the Pope and the worldwide Catholic Church, with self-governance under the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. It is part of the Major Archiepiscopal Churches of the Catholic Church that are not distinguished with a patriarchal title. It is headed by Major Archbishop Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Maphrian of the Major Archdiocese of Trivandrum based in Kerala, India.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church or Church of Malabar Syrian Catholics is an Eastern Catholic Major Archiepiscopal Church based in Kerala, India. It is an autonomous particular church in full communion with the Pope and the worldwide Catholic Church, with self-governance under the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. The Church is headed by the Metropolitan and Gate of all India Major Archbishop George Cardinal Alencherry. The name Syro-Malabar is a prefix coined from the words Syriac as the church employs the East Syriac Rite liturgy, and Malabar which is the historical name for modern Kerala. The name has been in usage in official Vatican documents since the nineteenth century.
The Mar Thoma Church, often shortened from Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, is an Oriental Indian church, based in Kerala, India. The church employs a reformed variant of the West Syriac Rite Divine Liturgy of Saint James. The Mar Thoma Church believes that they are the successors of the Saint Thomas Christian community of Malankara, which originated from the missionary activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The term "Mar Thoma" literally means "Saint Thomas" in reference to Thomas the Apostle and Christians of Malankara were called as Christians of Saint Thomas or Marthoma Nazranees. The church in Malankara flourished under various ecclesiastical faith streams from time to time.
Malankara Metropolitan was a legal title given to the head of the Malankara Church Puthenkoor Christians, by the Government of Travancore and Cochin in South India. This title was awarded by a proclamation from the King of Travancore and the King of Cochin. The Prime jurisdiction regarding the temporal, ecclesiastical and spiritual administration of the Malankara Church is vested in the Malankara Metropolitan. Malankara Metropolitan is believed to reign it faithful from the Apostolic See of Saint Thomas.
The Synod of Diamper, held at Udayamperoor, known as Diamper in non-vernacular sources, was a diocesan synod, or council, that created rules and regulations for the ancient Saint Thomas Christians of the Malabar Coast, modern Kerala state, India, formally uniting them with the Catholic Church. This led to the creation of the Eastern Catholic Syro-Malabar Church, which follows a Latin-based East Syriac Rite liturgy.
The Coonan Cross Oath, taken on 3 January 1653, was a public avowal by members of the Saint Thomas Christians community of modern-day Kerala, India that they would not submit to Roman Pope and Latin Catholic Portuguese Padroado dominance in ecclesiastical and secular life.
The Chaldean Syrian Church of India is an Eastern Christian Church based in Thrissur, India. It is an archbishopric of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East and is in full communion with Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Gewargis III.
The Malabar Independent Syrian Church, also known as the Thozhiyur Church, is a Christian church centred in Kerala, India. It is one of the churches of the Saint Thomas Christian community, which traces its origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.
Mor Thoma I, also known as "Valiya Mar Thoma", is the first native democratically elected/selected Metropolitan bishop of the St Thomas Christians or Malankara Church. He was the last Archdeacon of the undivided St. Thomas Christians of Malabar. After the death of Archdeacon George of the Cross on 25 July 1640, Parambil Thoma Kathanar was elected and enthroned as new Archdeacon, when he was less than 30 years old. He led the Church to the Coonan Cross Oath on 3 January 1653 and to the subsequent schism in Saint Thomas Christians Church. After the Coonen Cross Oath, he was elected as a Bishop by Malankara (Yogam) Association and consecrated as a Bishop at St. Mary's Church Alangad, by laying hands of 12 priests on 22 May 1653. Only two Southist churches of Kaduthuruthy and Udayamperoor and a very few people elsewhere refused to recognise him as Bishop. Any how, the archdeacon began to exercise powers of episcopal order, though he openly tried to regularize his episcopal consecration as a Bishop from the Church of Antioch. His episcopal consecration as a Bishop was regularized in the year 1665 by Mar Gregorios Abdal Jaleel the Patriarchal delegate of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch.(The exact date and place of this event is anonymous).
Mar Dionysius I, also known as Mar Thoma VI, was the Metropolitan of the Malankara Church from 1765 until his death. A member of the Pakalomattom family, he was a shrewd administrator who appealed to outside authorities to assert his position as the sole leader of the Malankara Church and to attempt to reunite all the Saint Thomas Christians.
Mar Gregorios Abdal Jaleel Bawa was a Syriac Orthodox bishop of Jerusalem from 1664 until his death in 1681. He is chiefly remembered for his 1665 mission to India, in which he re established ties between the Malankara Church and the Syriac Orthodox church. He is venerated as a saint by his church.
The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Christian Church also known as the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, or the Syriac Orthodox Church of India, is an autonomous Oriental Orthodox Church based in the Indian state of Kerala, and is an integral branch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. It recognizes the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Aphrem II seated in the Cathedral of Saint George, Bab Tuma, Damascus, Syria, as its Supreme Head. It functions as a largely autonomous unit within the church, under the authority of the Catholicos of India, Baselios Thomas I. Currently, this is the only church in Malankara which has a direct relationship with the Syriac Christians of Antioch, which has continued from after the schism and they continue to employ the West Syriac Rite Liturgy of Saint James.
Christianity is the third-most practised religion in Kerala, accounting for 18% of the population according to the Indian census. Although a minority, the christian population of Kerala is proportionally much larger than that of India as a whole. A significant portion of the Indian Christian population resides in the state.
Palliveettil Mar Chandy became the first Indian-born native Saint Thomas Christian Bishop of the East Syriac Rite (Chaldaean) hierarchy after the Coonan Cross Oath in 1653. This faction became in full communion with the Holy See of Rome; originally known as the Malankara Chaldean Syrian Church, it would later become the modern-day Eastern Catholic Syro-Malabar Catholic Church which is also colloquially known as the Roman Catholic Syrian Church (RCSC).
The Malankara Rite is the form of the West Syriac liturgical rite practiced by several churches of the Saint Thomas Christian community in Kerala, India. West Syriac liturgy was brought to India by the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Jerusalem, Gregorios Abdal Jaleel, in 1665; in the following decades the Malankara Rite emerged as the liturgy of the Malankara Church, one of the two churches that evolved from the split in the Saint Thomas Christian community in the 17th century. Today it is practiced by the various churches that descend from the Malankara Church, namely the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, the Malabar Independent Syrian Church, and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.
Ahatallah was a Syrian clergyman chiefly known for his trip to India in 1652, on which he claimed to be the designated "Patriarch of the Whole of India and of China". Apparently, he had previously claimed to be the rightful Patriarch of Antioch and to have received his commission from the Pope; though these claims appear to be exaggerated, he was evidently at least a bishop. His mysterious appearance in, and disappearance from, Portuguese India caused a great uproar there, and resulted directly in a revolt by the Saint Thomas Christians against Portuguese rule and the establishment of an independent Malankara Church.
The Saint Thomas Christian denominations are traditional Christian denominations from Kerala, India, who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. They are also known as "Nasranis" as well. The Syriac term "Nasrani" is still used by St. Thomas Christians in Kerala.
Several historical evidences shed light on a significant Malankara–Persia relationship that spanned centuries. While a fraternal relationship existed between Malankara and Persia in the earlier centuries, closer ecclesiastical ties developed as early as 15th century and endured until the Portuguese colonial invasion of Malabar in 16th century. The Christians who came under the two ancient yet distinct lineages of Malankara (India) and Persia had one factor in common: their Saint Thomas heritage. The Church of the East shared communion with the Great Church until the Council of Ephesus in the 5th century, separating primarily over differences in Christology.