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

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The Nasrani Menorah or the Mar Thoma cross.

This is a timeline of Oriental Orthodoxy in India.[note 1] Thomasine Christianity is found in the southern Indian state of Kerala. These churches trace their roots back to St. Thomas the Apostle who arrived along the Malabar Coast in the year AD 52.

Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost, Saint Thomas was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, Persians and Indians; he ultimately reached South India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.”[note 2]

St. Thomas Christians (52-1498)

Ancient Era (52-431)

  • 40 Apostle Thomas is brought before King Gondophares, in Takshasila in North India (Pakistan); (St. Thomas preached there for some years, after which, becoming aware of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he went back to Jerusalem; on his second journey, the Apostle came to Malabar, established the Church and preached there for many years; then he went to the Coromandel Coast, where he died a martyr at Calamina (Mylapore) by the order of Masdai, king of that place).
  • 52 Arrival of St. Thomas the Apostle in Muziris (near Kodungalloor)[note 3] in the Indian state of Kerala, founding the Church in India.
  • 52-72 St. Thomas converted and baptized many caste Hindus including thirty-two Namboori families and certain members of the royal family, Namely, Bana Varma Perumal and his nephew who later became Kepa, the first Archbishop of Kerala; St Thomas established 7 churches at: Kodungalloor; Palayoor; Paravur; Kokkamangalam; Chayal; Niranam; and Kollam; according to a very ancient tradition, Thomas had ordained two bishops, four rambans, seven priests and twenty-one deacons - that priesthood continued in unbroken succession from generation to generation in the families of Pakalomattam and Sankarapuri; historians are of the opinion that Thomas established the early liturgy here in Aramaic (Syriac), since in those days, Greek was the chief language of the West, and Syriac, that of the East; also, on account of their close contact with the Jews, Aramaic was not unfamiliar to the Keralites.
  • 72 Martyrdom of St. Thomas the Apostle, in the neighborhood of Mylapore, city of Chennai, state of Tamil Nadu.[note 4]
  • 105 Church established at Kuravilangad (St. Mary’s Forane Church).
  • 189 Arrival of Stoic Philosopher Pantaenus from Alexandria, who visited the Malankara Church[note 5] 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.
  • 196 Bardaisan writes of Christians amongst the Parthians, Bactrians (Kushans) and other peoples in the Persian Empire .
  • 290 Brief persecution of Persian Christians under Bahram II.
  • ca.300 Bp. David of Basra undertook missionary work in India, among the earliest documented Christian missionaries in India.
  • 325 First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea; St. Jacob of Nisibis, Bp. of Nisibis in Mesopotamia and spiritual father of Ephrem the Syrian, attended, as did Persian Bp. John (Mar Yohannan) presiding over the churches "in Persia and India".[note 6]
  • 327 Apparition of Theotokos at Kuravilangad.
  • ca.4th-6th c. Severe persecution of Christians in Persia (Sassanid Empire).
  • 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 7]
  • 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).
  • 354 Theophilos the Indian was sent by Emperor Constantius II on a mission to south Asia via Arabia, where he is said to have converted the Himyarites and built three churches in southwest Arabia; he is also said to have found Christians in India, along the Malabar Coast, as recorded by the Anomoean (Arian) Church historian Philostorgius.
  • 363 St. Ephrem the Syrian at Edessa, writes about St. Thomas as the Apostle of India.
  • 379-402 Continuation of the Great Persecution of the Persian church.
  • 380 St. Gregory the Theologian writes about St. Thomas as the Apostle of India.
  • 390 St. Ambrose of Milan writes about St. Thomas as the Apostle of India.
  • 400 St. Jerome writes about St. Thomas as the Apostle of India.
  • 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).
  • 410 The Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, also called the Council of Mar Isaac, met in AD 410 in Seleucia-Ctesiphon, capitol of the Sassanid Empire of Persia, extending official recognition to the Empire's Christian community, (known as the Church of the East after 431 AD), and established the Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon as its Catholicos, or leader, declaring him to be supreme among the Bishops of the East; this established a hierarchical Christian Church in Iran, with a patriarchate at Ctesiphon and metropolitans in the capitals of five Persian provinces; it also declared its adherence to the decisions of the Council of Nicea and subscribed to the Nicene Creed.
  • 424 Schism begun: Formal separation of the Assyrian Church of the East ("East Syrian Church", "Persian Church", "Chaldean Syrian Church", or "Nestorian Church"), from the See of Antioch: the Synod of Dadyeshu met in Markabata of the Arabs, under the presidency of Mar Dadyeshu, proclaiming the independence of the Iranian Church from Byzantium, deciding that the Catholicos should be the sole head of the Church of the East and that no ecclesiastical authority should be acknowledged above him, referring to him for the first time as Patriarch, answerable to God alone (thus also reassuring the Sassandid monarchy that Persian Christians were not influenced by the Roman enemy).

Persian (Nestorian) Era (431-1498)

  • 431 The Third Ecumenical Council is held in Ephesus, condemning Nestorianism.
  • ca.450-650 Nestorian missionary movements were very active: the Assyrian Church of the East headquarterd in Seleucia-Ctesiphon, had spread into Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Persia, India, Ceylon, China, and Mongolia.[note 8]
  • 484 The Catholicos-Patriarch of the Church of the East Babowai (457–484) was executed by Sassanid king Peroz I, for his pro-Byzantine leanings, for which he was often in conflict with other members of the anti-Byzantine Church of the East (i.e. such as Barsauma).
  • 484 Schism finalized: Synod of Beth Lapat is convened under the Metropolitan of Nisibis Barsauma, declaring Nestorianism as the official theology of the Assyrian Church of the East, effectively separating the Assyrian church from the Byzantine church, pleasing the Zoroastrian Persian kings, who were at constant war with the now Christian Byzantine Empire.
  • 522 Byzantine monk Cosmas Indicopleustes (literally "who sailed to India") visits the Malabar Coast and Ceylon, writing about Christian Communities in his book Topografia Christiana.
  • 595 Patr. Sabrisho persuaded Chosroes II (r. 591–628) to grant Christians freedom of worship.
  • 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.825 Two Bishops, Mar Sabrisho and Mar Peroz (Prodh), along with several families, had migrated to Kollam; these two Bishops administered the whole of the Syrian Church, with Mar Sabrisho keeping his head quarters at Kollam, and Mar Peroz at Kodungalur; they were responsible for the construction of churches at many places in Kerala and the churches built by them were known as Kantheeshangal.
  • 825 Copper-plates known as the Tharisapalli plates[note 9] were given by a Venad Indian King to the Nestorian Bishop Mar S(abo)r Easho (Easow-data-veeran), documenting a land grant near "Kollam" to Nestorian Christians who had taken the then famous Red Sea route to the state of Kerala; the plates document the granting of 72 royal privileges of the Nazranies, and give information about the arrival of Monks from Persia, led by the Marwan S(abo)r iso ; Commencement of the calendar known as the Malayalam calendar (Malayalam Era, Quilon Era, or Kollavarsham), a solar Sidereal calendar used in the state of Kerala (part of the Aryanised version of the older Tamil calendar which was in usage till then); Christianity as a religion takes shape in Kerala.
  • 829 The Udayamperoor (Diamper) church was built.
  • 869 Council of Capharthutha was held in February to resolve the differences between the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (Syriac Orthodox Church) and the Maphriyan (Exarch) in Persia and India; it aimed to regulate the relationship and resolve frequent difficulties arising between the two positions, codifying eight canons dealing with the Patriarch and the Maphrian of Tigris.
Mulanthuruthy Marthoman church, a pilgrimage center for St. Thomas Christians.
  • 883 King Alfred of England sent the Bishop of Marborne in 883 with offerings to the tomb of St. Thomas, to fulfill a vow he had made when the Danes attacked him.
  • 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 10]
  • 1122 Mar John III, Metropolitan designated Patriarch of India, with his suffragens went to Europe and told of miracles associated with St. Thomas that occurred in the land of India.
  • 1264 Bp. Bar-Hebraeus is made Primate, or Maphrian,[note 11] of the East by Patr. Ignatius III.

Arrival of the Roman Catholics

  • 1291 Italian Franciscan missionary John of Montecorvino, arrives in the Madras region or "Country of St. Thomas", where he preached for thirteen months and baptized about one hundred persons.
  • 1292 Venetian traveller Marco Polo arrives in India on the Coromandel Coast, visiting the tomb of St. Thomas (at Mylapore).
  • 1323 French Dominican friar Jordanus Catalani de Severac arrives in Kollam (Quilon).
  • 1329 August 9, erection of the first Roman Catholic Diocese in India, in the state of Kerala, being the Diocese of Quilon (or Kollam); re-erected on September 1, 1886.[note 12] French Dominican friar Jordanus Catalani de Severac is appointed as the first Bishop of Quilon.
  • 1490 Two Chaldean bishops, John and Thomas, in Kerala.
  • 1494 June 7, Treaty of Tordesillas: division of the world and mission lands between Spain and Portugal.

Era of Divisions (1498-1912)

Portuguese Colonial Era (1498-1653)

  • 1498 Arrival of Vasco da Gama and the Portuguese, reaching the Indian shore, along with Roman Catholic missionaries.
  • 1500 Pedro Álvares Cabral's fleet carried a vicar, eight secular priests, and eight Franciscans to Kozhikode (Calicut).
  • 1503 Mar Yabella, Mar Denaha, and Mar Yakoob from Persia went to Kerala.
  • 1514 The Portuguese Padroado system is begun.
  • 1517 The Portuguese discover the tomb of St. Thomas in Mylapore.
  • 1518 The "Book of Duarte Barbosa" mentions St. Thomas and his tomb at Mylapore, narrating the legends regarding the martydom of St Thomas, also that local Christians go there on pilgrimage and carry away many relics.
  • 1540 The Franciscan Fr. Vincent De Lagos starts the Cranganore Seminary.
  • 1542 Francis Xavier, Apostolic Nuncio in the East, reaches Goa.
  • 1545 Francis Xavier was at Mylapore for four months, spending long hours nightly in prayer at the tomb of St. Thomas.
  • 1548 Dominican Monastery founded in Cochin.
  • 1549 Mar Abuna Jacob, A Chaldean Bishop, stayed at St. Antonio Monastery, Cochin.
  • 1557 Pope Paul IV erects the Diocese of Cochin; Canonization process of Francis Xavier begun at Cochin.
  • 1577 Vaippicotta Seminary of the Jesuits started.
  • 1579 Augustinians reached Cochin.
  • 1606 Pope Paul V, in elevating San Thome of Mylapore to a cathedral, declared that “there lay buried the body of St. Thomas.”

Jacobite Era (1653-1912)

  • 1653 January 3, Coonan Cross Oath at Mattancherry, Cochin, by which all connections with the Portuguese Roman Catholics and Jesuits (Roman Catholic supremacy) was rejected by the St Thomas Christians; about 25,000 Saint Thomas Christians and 633 clergy led by Archdeacon Thomas declared independence against the foreign aggression, by holding on to a rope which was tied around the stone cross in front of the church in Mattancherry, and taking an oath rejecting and pubicly avowing the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church over them; Archdeacon Thomas was consecrated by 12 priest elders as Mar Thoma I, the first bishop of the Malankara Church.[note 13]
  • 1665-1681 In India, Oriental Orthodox Metr. of Jerusalem Mar Gregorios Abdul Jaleel played a crucial role in the defense of the Oriental Orthodox faith and Suryani tradition following the Koonan Kurishu Sathyam; (glorifed April 4, 2000 by His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I of the Syrian Orthodox Church).
  • 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.[note 14]
  • 1772-1858 The British East India Company rule in India, establishing a capital in Calcutta, appointing its first Governor-General, Warren Hastings, and becoming directly involved in governance.
  • 1795 The British captured Malabar, Kerala.
  • 1806 The Marquis of Wellesley, the British Governor General of India, Cecil Cherian, sent the Rev. Claudius Buchanan, an Anglican priest, to conduct research into the life of the ancient Church of St.Thomas in India.

Arrival of the Protestants - Further Splits (1813-1912)

Modern Era (1912-Present)

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 20] 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 21] 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 Schism: 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.
    St. Thomas Stamp Issue by the Govt of India (1964).
    Stamp Issue by the Gov't of India comemmorating the 1900th anniversary of St. Thomas' martyrdom (72-1972).
  • 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); the government of India brought out a stamp of St. Thomas, in connection with the Bombay International Eucharistic Congress and the visit of Pope Paul VI to India in 1964.
  • 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.
  • 1973 Government of India brings out a "19th Death Centenary" stamp of St. Thomas (72-1972).
  • 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, 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.
    Baselius Marthoma Didymus I, Catholicos of the East & Malankara Metropolitan, Church of India, [2005-Present].
Consecration of Thomas Mar Dionysius as Baselious Thomas I, Catholicose of India (seated) [2002-Present], by the Patr. of Antioch, Ignatious Zakka I Iwas, and the universal episcopal synod. 31 July 2002, Damascus - Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church.
Bishops of the Indian Orthodox Church.
Chart describing the divisions within the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala.

See also



  1. Several places such as Ethiopia, Arabia Felix etc. once went by the name India. One can not exclude South India any way from this India. South India in particular was known to the early Greeks and Romans. A number of Roman coins, even those of the Republican period are occasionally discovered in Malabar and other parts of South India. Saint Jerome and Saint Ambrose had knowledge about the customs of the Brahmins who certainly were inhabitants of South India. Saint Ephrem, Saint Gregory Nazianzus, Saint Ambrose, Gaudentius, Saint Jerome, Paulinus of Nola, several ecclesiasticl calenders, martyrologies and other works explicity connect Saint Thomas with India.
  2. NSC NETWORK. Early references about the Apostolate of Saint Thomas in India, Records about the Indian tradition, Saint Thomas Christians & Statements by Indian Statesmen.
  3. The Greeks called this place Mousiris and the Jews, Muzirikode.
  4. The body of the Apostle was buried near the Mylapore beach where the San Thome Cathedral now stands. The relics were taken to Edessa in the third or early fourth century. When that place fell into the hands of the Mohammedans, they were moved to Island of Chios in 1141, and from there to Ortona in Italy in 1257, where they remain under the main altar of the St. Thomas Cathedral. In 1952, immediately after the “All Kerala Celebrations of the 19th Century of the Landing of St. Thomas in India,” Cardinal Tisserant brought a part of the relics back to this land; its main portion is enshrined at Kodungalloor where the Apostle first set foot in India and the other portion at Mylapore where he died.
  5. 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.
  6. At the Council of Nicea during the writing of the Nicene Creed in 325 AD, Mar John, Archbishop of India in his signature to the decrees of the Council, gave his title as “Prelate of Metropolitan of Persia and the Bishop of Great India.”
  7. 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.
  8. Nestorius and his followers fled from persecution in the Byzantine Empire after the Council of Ephesus 431 banned him and his teachings. They migrated to Persia and from there launched one of the most significant missionary movements. By the end of the 8th century they had spread to China and from Central Asia through Afghanistan to India, probably becoming the most numerous church in the world by the 9th century. However, the Mongol invasions and the consolidation of Islam throughout these areas have now reduced this church to its present-day numbers of around 100,000.
  9. The languages of these Copper plates are Tamil, Pahlavi and Vattezhuthu. Though differences of opinion exist among the exact dating of each copper plates, there is a consensus that some of these are dated from 9th century. (NSC Network. The Edicts, Copper Plates and Privileges - Quilon (Tarisapalli) plates, Thazhekad edict, Iravi Kortan plate and Cana Thomman plate.)
  10. 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.
  11. The Syriac word Maphryānā, rendered as mafriano, also Anglicized as Maphrian, literally signifying 'one who bears fruit', i.e. 'a consecrator', is used to designate the prelate who, in the Syriac Orthodox Church, holds the second rank after the patriarch among the Syriac Orthodox Christians (Miaphysitism), somewhat comparable to an Exarch.
  12. Pope John XXII (in captivity in Avignon) erected Quilon as the first Diocese in the whole of Indies, as suffragan to the Archdiocese of Sultany in Persia, through the decree Romanus Pontifix.
  13. Before that the Malankara Church was ruled by Malankara Mooppens (elders).
  14. At the close of the 19th century, some of them fell under the influence of Anglican missionaries and established the [[w:Mar Thomite Church, which introduced many doctrinal and liturgical changes of a Western Protestant character.
  15. The very first Anglican ordination was a native of Ceylon, ordained for work in Ceylon (Sri Lanka); the second, Abdul Masih, was therefore the first Indian ordained for work in India.
  16. 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).
  17. Mar Thoma or Marthoma is Aramaic, meaning Saint Thomas. Members of this church are often referred to as Marthomites.
  18. 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.
  19. "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 by 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.)
  20. 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).
  21. 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


Oriental Orthodox
Other St. Thomas Christian Groups
Roman Catholic