Timeline of Oriental Orthodoxy in India (St. Thomas Christianity)
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St. Thomas Christians (52-1498)
- 52 Arrival of St. Thomas the Apostle in Muziris (near Kodungalloor) in the Indian state of Kerala, founding the Church in India; St Thomas established 7 churches at: Kodungalloor; Palayoor; Paravur; Kokkamangalam; Chayal; Niranam; and Kollam.
- 72 Martyrdom of St. Thomas the Apostle, in the neighborhood of Mylapore, city of Chennai, state of Tamil Nadu.
- 105 Church established at Kuravilangad (St. Mary’s Forane Church).
- 189 Arrival of Stoic Philosopher Pantaenus from Alexandria, who visited the Malankara Church[note 1] at the request of the Malankara Christians (reported by Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome); according to Eusebius, Pantaenus was for a time a missionary preacher, traveling as far as India, where it was reported that he found Christians who were using the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew.
- 327 Apparition of Theotokos at Kuravilangad.
- 337-379 The Persian Church faced several severe persecutions, notably during the reign of Shapur II (309–79), from the Zoroastrian majority who accused it of Roman leanings.[note 2]
- 340-360 The Nasranis were granted special rights and privileges by the edict Thazhekad Sasanam; the edict was written on stone and provides proof of the early existence of St. Thomas Christians in Kerala.
- 345 A small group of K'nanaim merchants travelled to the Jewish trade posts at Kodungallur in Kerala and settled there; their descendants are today known in Kerala as Knanaya Nasranis (Saint Thomas Christians); they were under the leadership of Thomas of Cana (Thomas of Kynai), with Bishop Joseph of Edessa (Bp. Uraha Mar Yausef), four priests, several deacons, and 72 Syro-Aramaic Jewish families who migrated from Edessa (about 400 people).
- 409 Permission was formally given by the Zoroastrian King Yezdegerd to Christians to worship openly and rebuild destroyed churches, though they were not allowed to proselytize (some historians call this decree the Edict of Milan for the Assyrian Christian church).
- 708 Death of Bp. Jacob of Edessa, one of the most distinguished Syriac writers.
- 715 Very first Muslim invasion of India occurred, as Umayyad general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered the Sindh and Punjab regions along the Indus river (now a part of Pakistan).
- ca.800 The Church of St. Sebastian in Thazhekad is founded, one of the oldest in Kerala, dating back to AD 800; it is currently the largest pilgrimage center in the Roman Catholic Syro-Malabar Diocese of Irinjalakuda.
- ca.1100-1125 The Mulanthuruthy Marthoman church is constructed, being among the ancient and famous churches of the Malankara Church and a pilgrimage center for St. Thomas Christians, containing a relic of St. Thomas, which was brought from Mosul.[note 3]
Era of Divisions
Portuguese Colonial Era (1498-1653)
Jacobite Era (1653-1912)
- 1772 Schism: West Syrians under the leadership of Abraham Mar Koorilose, Metropolitan of Malankara, formed the Malabar Independent Syrian Church, splitting from the main body of India's Malankara Church over concerns about the authority of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch.
- 1814 Schism: The Chaldean Syrian Church separated from what later became known as the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, claiming to continue the pre-Portuguese east-Syrian Nestorian tradition, as an Independent Orthodox Church.
- 1815 Orthodox Pazhaya Seminary (Old Syrian Seminary, Kottayam) is founded, the first Syrian Orthodox Christian school of theology in Asia.
Arrival of the Protestants - Further Splits (1818-1912)
- 1875-1877 Apostolic visit to India by Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Ignatius Peter IV.
- 1876 The Council of Mulanthuruthy (of the Malankara Church) is convened at the historic Mulanthuruthy Marthoman church, presided over by Patriarch Ignatius Peter IV (who had been summoned to assist in efforts against the inroads of Protestantism that were supported by the British), declaring that the Malankara Church accepted the supremacy of the Patriarch and that it would keep the Jacobite faith of the Antiochians; this synod thus represented the inauguration of an official relationship of a section of the Indian Orthodox Church with the Patriarch of the West Syrian Church; another section however representing several churches did not participate, saying that this was against the historical status of the Malankara Church.[note 4]
- 1876 Schism: the Mar Thoma Church[note 5] (Anglican Communion) came into being under Thomas Mar Athanasious, who was excommunicated by the Jacobite Patriarch; they were known as Reformed Jacobites before the group took the name of Mar Thoma Church, introducing many changes based on Protestant doctrine.
- 1888 Significant transfer movement from the Catholic to the Oriental Orthodox church: the Latin rite Independent Catholic Church of Ceylon, Goa, and India was formed, consisting of about 5000 Catholics under Antonio Francisco Xavier Alvares (Mar Julius I), who was consecrated in 1889 by St. Gregorios of Parumala, Metr. Athanasius Paulos of Aluva, and Malankara Metr. Dionysius Joseph II; this church maintained relations with the Syrian Orthodox Patr. of Antioch Mar Ignatius Peter III, and was permitted to continue its Latin or Western rite liturgical practices.[note 6][note 7]
- 1902 Death of Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala, later canonized by both the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church and Indian Orthodox Church (1947), being the first Saint of both Oriental Orthodox Churches in India.
- 1910 Formation of the Archdiocese of Knanaya, of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
Indian Orthodox Church: Autocephalous Era (1912-Present)
- 1912 Schism: 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 8] 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), the 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 9] the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church ('Bava Kakshi' (Patriarch's Party)) on the other hand, remained as an autonomous jurisdiction of the Church of Antioch (Syriac).
- 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; the Thrikkunnathu Seminary is opened (operating from 1931-1977), being a notable Malankara teaching facility for clergy in the northern dioceses of the Indian Orthodox Church, and the only full seminary for Jacobite Syrian Christians (later noted as the "headquarters" of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church in India).
- 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 The Dominion of India gains its independence from the United Kingdom, as British India is dissolved; 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).
- 1977 The Thrikkunnathu Seminary and its Saint Mary’s Church building were closed in December 1977, owing to an ownership dispute between the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox and the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church.
- 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.
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- Malankara is a cognate word of the place name Maliankara, a place near Muziris, where St. Thomas the Apostle first landed, in the Indian state of Kerala. It was the headquarters of the Church from the first century. The original liturgical language used in the Malankara Church was Aramaic and Hebrew; later this was replaced by Syriac.
- In 337 Shāpūr sent his forces across the Tigris River, the uneasy frontier, to recover Armenia and Mesopotamia, which his predecessors had lost to the Romans. Until 350 the conflict raged in northern Mesopotamia, with neither side a clear-cut victor. Shortly after 337, Shāpūr took an important policy decision. Although the state religion of the Sāsānian Empire was Mazdaism (Zoroastrianism), Christianity flourished within its boundaries. The Roman emperor Constantine the Great had granted toleration to Christians in 313. With the subsequent Christianization of the empire, Shāpūr, mistrustful of a potential force of a fifth column at home while he was engaged abroad, ordered the persecution and forcible conversion of the Christians; this policy was in force throughout his reign.
- The Mulanthuruthy church was the venue of the famous Mulanthuruthy Synod in 1876 convened by the Patriarch of Antioch Peter III. Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Yakoob III also visited this church in 1964. And the present Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas visited the Church twice, during 1982 and 2000.
- Two strong groups were in the church at this time: the one owed allegiance to Metropolitan Thomas Mar Athanasius (1877-1893), and supported independence and purification of the church (the Metran Kakshi faction); the other under the control of Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious II (1865-1909), spearheaded Orthodoxy and subservience to the Patriarch of Antioch (the Bava Kakshi. faction).
In 1877 Metropolitan Thomas Mar Athanasius thus became the first Metropolitan of the new Mar Thoma Church (1877-1893), a group that split from the Malankara Church and was originally known as "Reformed Jacobites", of the West Syrian Rite (i.e. Protestant Oriental, in communion with the Anglican Church).
- Mar Thoma or Marthoma is Aramaic, meaning Saint Thomas. Members of this church are often referred to as Marthomites.
- The reasons for this break with the papacy were political rather then religious. From the sixteenth century there had existed a concordat between the Holy See and the King of Portugal which allowed the latter to nominate Bishops to the diocese of Latin Rite India, as well as other colonies which had formally been Portuguese colonies. The arrangement was known as the Patrondo (Patronage). By the second half of the nineteenth century it had become obvious that it was high time for Patrondo to be abolished.
- "On January 2, 1887, Pope Leo XIII set up a new Latin hierarchy for India and Ceylon, with the bishops (except for the province of (Goa) directly dependent on the Congregation of Propaganda. This change aroused considerable indignation because there still existed strong sentimental link between Indian Catholics and Portugal. Many native priests were indignant at being transferred to jurisdictions of French or Italian bishops.
Thus came into being what was called the 'Patrando Association'. Its leaders petitioned King Luis I of Portugal, to use his influence at Rome to have the royal patronage restored. On February 10, 1888, a Goan priest, who had been a Brahmin, Antonio Francisco-Xavier Alvarez, was elected bu the Association as first bishop of the schismatic church. He applied to Mar Dionysios V, Jacobite Metropolitan of Malankara since 1865, to consecrate him, but with no result. His appeal to Mar Ignatius Peter III, Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch was more successful." (Old Catholic Church of the United States. Credo: The Catechism of the Old Catholic Church. iUniverse, 2004. p.391.)
- 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 Malankara Metropolitan 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).
- 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).
Christianity in India
- Bauman, Chad M. Christian Identity and Dalit Religion in Hindu India, 1868-1947. Studies in the History of Christian Missions. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008. ISBN 9780802862761
- Dempsey, Corinne G. Kerala Christian Sainthood: Collisions of Culture and Worldview in South India. Oxford University Press US, 2001. ISBN 9780195130287
- Fernando, Leonard, and G. Gispert-Sauch. Christianity in India: Two Thousand Years of Faith. Viking, 2004.
- Fox Young, Richard (Ed.). India and the Indianness of Christianity: Essays on Understanding--Historical, Theological, and Bibliographical--In Honor of Robert Eric Frykenberg. Studies in the History of Christian Missions. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2009. ISBN 9780802863928
- Hambye, Dr. Edward René (SJ) and Prof. George Menachery (Ed.). The St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India, Volume 1. VOl. I. St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India (STCEI), 1982. ISBN 818713206X - (Vol.II 1973; Vol.I 1982; Vol.III 2009)
- Menachery, George (Prof.), (Ed.). The St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India. VOL. II. Trichur: St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India, 1973.
- 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.)
- Howard, Rev. George Broadley, and Mar Thoma Syrian Church. The Christians of St. Thomas and their Liturgies: Comprising the Anaphorae of St. James; St. Peter; the Twelve Apostles; Mar Dionysius; Mar Xystus; and Mar Evannis; together with the Ordo Communis. Oxford and London: J. Henry and J. Parker, 1864.
- Kuruvilla, Philip. Identity and Integration of the Orthodox Church in India: Diaspora Youth - A Vision Beyond Malankara. Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (ISPCK), 2000. ISBN 9788172145903
- Neill, Stephen (Anglican Bp.). A History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to AD 1707. Volume 1. Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 9780521548854
- Neill, Stephen (Anglican Bp.). A History of Christianity in India: 1707-1858. Volume 2. Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 9780521893329
- Pothan, S. G. The Syrian Christians of Kerala. Asia Pub. House, 1963.
- Priolkar, Anant Kakba. The Goa Inquisition, Being a Quatercentenary Commemoration Study of the Inquisition in India. Bombay University Press, 1961. ISBN 9780836427530
- 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.
- Vakakkekara, Benedict. Origin of India's St. Thomas Christians: A Historiographical Critique. Media House, 1995. ISBN 9788174950000
- Visvanathan, Susan. The Christians of Kerala: History, Belief, and Ritual among the Yakoba. Oxford University Press, 1993. ISBN 9780195631890
Christianity In Persia
- Khanbaghi, Aptin. The Fire, The Star and The Cross: Minority Religions in Medieval and Early Modern Iran. I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2006. ISBN 9781845110567
- Wilmshurst, David. The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318-1913. (Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium ; vol. 582. Subsidia, tomus 104). Peeters Publishers, 2000. ISBN 9789042908765 (Scholarly)
- Maclean, Arthur John and William Henry Browne. The Catholicos of the East and His People. Gorgias Press LLC, 2006.
- Beggiani, Seely J. Introduction to Eastern Christian Spirituality: The Syriac Tradition. 2nd Ed.. University of Scranton Press, 1991. ISBN 9780940866126
- Jenkins, Philip (Prof.), and Geraint H. Jenkins. The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia - And How It Died. Publ. by Harperone, 2008. ISBN 9780061472800
- Koschorke, Klaus, Frieder Ludwig and Mariano Delgado, and Roland Spliesgart. A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, 1450-1990: a Documentary Sourcebook. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007. ISBN 9780802828897
- Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC), Church of India. (Homepage)
- Malankara Orthodox TV (Malankara Orthodox Church of India)
- ICON (Indian Christian Orthodox News)
- Indian Orthodox Herald
- Fr. Ignatios Sennis. Orthodoxy in India Today. Transl. Tilemahos Alikakos. (re: a modern Orthodox mission in India).
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