Timeline of Oriental Orthodoxy in India (St. Thomas Christianity)

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Coptic Orthodox Cross

Churches of the Oriental
Orthodox Communion

Autocephalous Churches
Armenia | Alexandria | Ethiopia | Antioch | India | Eritrea
Autonomous Churches
Armenia: Cilicia | Jerusalem | Constantinople
Alexandria: Britain | Antioch: Jacobite Indian

St. Thomas Christians

Ancient Era (52-325)

Era of Divisions

Portuguese Colonial Era (1498-1653)

Jacobite Era (1653-1912)

Arrival of the Protestants - Further Splits (1818-1912)

Modern Era

Indian Orthodox Church: Autocephalous Era (1912-Present)

  • 1912 Church of India ('Methran Kakshi' (Bishop's Party)) declares autocephaly from the Jacobite Church of Antioch (Syriac), after a vertical split in the Malankara Church in 1911;[note 1] the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church ('Bava Kakshi' (Patriarch's Party)) remained as an autonomous jurisdiction of the Church of Antioch (Syriac); with the declaration of autocephaly, the the Catholicate of the East was relocated to India, which historically had been in Seleucia and later in Tigris; consecration of the first Indian Catholicose, Moran Mar Baselios Paulos (1912-14), first Catholicose of the East in India, with the participation of (deposed) Patriarch Ignatius Abdul Messiah of Antioch and (excommunicated) Malankara Metropolitan Geevarghese Dionysius (Vattasseril Mar Divannasios).[note 2]
  • ca.1930's Roman Catholic Vellalar Christians (Trichy) separated themselves temporarily from their church because of caste quarells, and employed Orthodox West Syrian Indian Priests from Kerala to conduct their worship services.
  • 1930 The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is established as an Eastern rite of the Roman Catholic Church, when a large group of Jacobites under the leadership of Archbishop Mar Ivanios split from the Malankara Church and subsequently entered into communion with Rome; they were allowed to maintain their Antiochene liturgy.
  • 1931 Patriarch Elias III came to Malankara at the invitation of the then British Viceroy, Lord Irvin, to resolving the schism that had erupted in the Malankara Church.
  • 1932 Death of Patriarch Elias III, the only Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch who is entombed in Kerala, India; the monastery where he is entombed is a renowned pilgrim centre, known as Manjanikkara Dayara.
  • 1934 Establishment of the Constitution of the Orthodox Church in India as an autocephalous Church, linked to the Orthodox Syrian Church of the Patriarch of Antioch; death of Geevarghese Mar Dionysius of Vattasseril, Malankara Metropolitan of the Indian Orthodox Church.
  • 1947 Canonization of Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala (+1902) by the Church of India, the first saint canonized by the church; canonization of Eldho Mor Baselios of Kothamangalam (+1685) by the Church of India, the second saint canonized by the church.
  • 1947 British India is dissolved, and the Dominion of India gains its independence from the United Kingdom; a largely Hindu India and a Muslim Pakistan are created by partitions of the subcontinent, with Punjab and Bengal divided along religious-demographic boundaries between the two.
  • 1958 Unification of the Malankara Church again (lasting from 1958-1975), after the split in 1912: on September 12, the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court of India recognized the validity of the Catholicate and unanimously declared that the Patriarch of Antioch does not have any authority over the Malankara church and that the Indian church is completely free under the Catholicos of the East; by an accord, Syrian Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Ya`qub III affirmed his canonical acceptance of the Catholicate as well as the 1934 Constitution of the Indian Orthodox Church; the two factions of the Malankara Church, viz; Jacobite and Orthodox, re-united.
  • 1964 Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Ya`qub III visited India and consecrated Mor Augen Thimotheos as the Catholicose of the East; thus 'Mar Baselios Augen I', the Metropolitan of Kandanad diocese, became the first “canonically” ordained Catholicose/Maphriyono of the East from India (from the Jacobite point of view).
  • 1965 The Indian Orthodox Church participated in the Ecumenical Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches held in Addis Ababa.
  • 1969 The Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) founded Christ University in Bangalore, the first University by the Roman Catholic Church in India.
  • 1972 The new Catholicos Augen I began to claim that he is seated on the Throne of St. Thomas, insisting that the Church in Malankara is autocephalous.
  • 1975 Schism: the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church (Patriarchal, "Jacobite", or Bava Faction) and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Indian Orthodox Church) (Catholicos, or Methran Faction) split again: a Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church excommunicated the Catholicos and his followers, while the Catholicos and the Metropolitans convened their own Synod separately, and cut off connections with the Patriarch of Antioch (Syriac); on September 7, 1975, Patriarch Yakub III consecrated Mor Philoxenus of Kandanad (Baselios Paulose II) as Catholicos of the East for the Jacobite faction (1975-1996); the Church of India consecrated Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I as the new Catholicos (1975-1991).
  • 1995 June 20, the Supreme Court of India unequivocally declared that "The Patriarch of Antioch was undoubtedly acknowledged and recognised by all the members of the Malankara Church as the supreme head of their Church", implying that the Indian Orthodox Catholicate is part of the Syriac Orthodox Church and is not autocephalous.
  • 1996 September 25, the Nagpur St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary was officially inaugurated by H.G. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, the President of the Mission Board of the Malankara Church, in the presence of H.G. Stephanus Mar Theodosius and H.G. Geevarghese Mar Ivanius (Kottayam).
  • 2002 The two Oriental Orthodox Churches conducted their own Syrian Christian Association meetings, and since then are functioning independently; the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church faction adopted a new constitution, against the constitution of 1934.
  • 2003 Canonization of Geevarghese Mar Dionysius of Vattasseril (+1934) by the Church of India, the third saint canonized by the chruch.
  • 2008 Canonization of Sister Alphonsa (Anna) Muttathupadath (+1946) in the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI - the first person of Indian origin canonized a saint of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, and the first woman Saint from India.
  • 2009 The Government of India issued coins in honour of St. Alphonsa, the first Christian in India to have commemorative coins issued in her honor.
  • 2010 February 17, the Malankara association met at Sasthamkotta under the leadership of His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Didymus I, electing seven new Bishops.

See also



  1. Patriarch Ignatius Abded Aloho II (1906-1915) had deposed Patriarch Ignatius Abdul Masih II (1895-1905) and usurped the Patriarchal See of Antioch from him. In 1911 Patriarch Ignatius Abded Aloho (Mar Abdulla) came to Malankara, and excommunicated Vattasseril Mar Divannasios. To ward off the undue interference of Patriarch Abdulla in the administration of the Indian Church, Fr. P.T. Geevarghese with the blessing of Vattasseril Mar Divannasios, contacted Patriarch Abded M’siha, the Patriarch of Antioch from whom Mar Abdulla usurped the Patriarchal See of Antioch, and invited him to visit Malankara and to establish a Catholicate there. This created a split in the church in 1912, into the two groups, with some claiming that the relocation of the Catholicate to India was without authority from the Universal Syriac Orthodox Synod, thus causing the century long dispute in the Malankara Church. (See 1958).
  2. The Indian Orthodox Church view is that the Catholicate of the East is autocephalous and in the legitimate succession of St. Thomas the Apostle, citing use of the term "Throne of St. Thomas" in documents since at least 1301 AD, and that this was a period of religious turmoil where the Patriarch of Antioch interfered and suspended the Malankara Metropolitan, demanding complete surrender, leading to this event; two factions thus emerge from the Malankara Church (Indian Oriental Orthodoxy): the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church (Patriarchal, "Jacobite", or Bava Faction) and Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Catholicos, or Methran Faction).

Further reading


Christianity in India

See also: Thomapedia. 2000. ISBN 9788187132134 (The Thomapedia is the Enlarged 2000 Edition of the 1973 2nd Volume of the St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India (STCEI), both edited by Prof. George Menachery.)
By Indian historian Anant Priolkar. Provides the most comprehensive account of the Goa Inquisition held by Portuguese colonialists in Goa, India in the 16th century and details the wholesale massacres of Hindus, Muslims, Indian Jews and non-Catholic Indian Christians by the Portuguese inquisitors.

Christianity In Persia


External Links


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