Brahmavar (Goan) Orthodox Church
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The Brahmavar (Goan) Orthodox Church is a self-governing branch of the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church. This group originated in the Roman Catholic Church, formed under the leadership of Bishop Antonio Francisco Xavier Alvares in 1889 AD. Formerly under the Mumbai Diocese,[note 1] it has now been constituted as its own diocese, the Brahmavar Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
The territory of Goa in south India was a colony of Portugal. Fr. Antonio who was a Roman Catholic priest at the time, opposed the ‘Concordot’ of the Pope and interference of the Government in the Church Administration. His pro-Independence periodicals which were also critical of the Roman Catholic Church were banned.
Fr. Antonio left the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman with hundreds of Goan Catholic families and joined the Malankara Orthodox Church. The Brahmavar community has come into existence since then as a part of the Indian Orthodox Church.
Antonio Francisco Xavier Alvares was consecrated as the first Orthodox Metropolitan of Goa-Ceylon in 1889 AD by Paulose Mar Athanasious and Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala at the Orthodox Pazhaya Seminary.
After joining the Orthodox Church, Mar Alvares was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church. He was excommunicated, stripped naked and paraded through the streets, and was persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church and the Portuguese Government. Though he was advised by some of his old friends to reunite with the Roman Catholic Church, especially when he was very sick, he refused and stuck to his Orthodox faith. For the common people he was a true Missionary, a patriot, and an apostle of charity.
Presently there are about 700 families in Goa in this self-governing part of Indian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church of Goa has survived almost a century after the death of Bishop Alvares (+1923), and the Brahmavar mission still remains as a symbol of his work.
- The Bombay diocese spreads over the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, tail of Karnataka, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The Diocese had grown to be a giant among the rest of the dioceses in many ways with more than 70 churches, schools, clinics, and hostels etc., efficiently managed by about 50 sincere and dedicated priests along with the lay representatives. (Malankara Orthodox TV. Mumbai Diocese and Parishes. A Digital Diary of Malankara Orthodox Church: Dioceses and Parishes. Retrieved: 2010-12-13.)
- The British Orthodox Church (within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate). Holy Brahmavar. In: The Glastonbury Review, No. 119, November 2010.