Analogical review on Saint Thomas Cross- The symbol of Nasranis-Interpretation of the Inscriptions

Analogical review on Saint Thomas Cross- The symbol of Nasranis-Interpretation of the Inscriptions 4.47/5 (89.47%) 19 ratings

The spirit of Christianity can be explained with reference to cross. Cross is the most common symbol of Christianity, intended to represent the redeeming martyrdom of Jesus when he was crucified on the True Cross in the New Testament.

This article is an attempt to look Thomasine Christianity through St. Thomas cross with reference to early Christian writings, traditions of Nasranis, archeological evidences and interpretations of the inscriptions.

Analogical review on Saint Thomas Cross- The symbol of Nasranis-Interpretation of the Inscriptions

Analogical review on Saint Thomas Cross- The symbol of Nasranis-Interpretation of the Inscriptions

1. Cross in Early Christianity, 2. Cross in Early Thomasine Christianity , 3. St. Thomas Cross , 3.1 Tomb of St. Thomas, 3.2 Re-Discovery of St. Thomas Cross at Mylapore , 4. Antiquity of the cross & Interpretation of the Inscriptions, 4.1 Antiquity of the cross, 4.2 Interpretation of the Inscriptions,5.Symbolism in St. Thomas Cross, 6. General Observations , 6.1 Government of India Centenary Stamp, 6.2 Indian heresy a myth , 6.3 Influence on Indigenous art, 6.4 Link with the Apostle , 7. Locations of the Cross , 7.1 Locations, 8. Some Similarities , 9.Conclusion

1. Cross in Early Christianity

A sign stood above the Cross of Jesus, indicating “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19-20) in Greek, Latin (two international languages of the time) and in Hebrew (the language of the Chosen People).

In the beginning of Christianity cross may have appeared in Christian homes as an object of religious veneration, although there is no such monument of the earliest Christian art has been preserved. This is partly due to the persecution, Christianity had to face in the initial centuries. It appears with archeological proofs that Fish was another widely used secret symbol of Christianity during those haunted days. The initial letters of the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior” forms the Greek word ICHTHUS, which means “fish.” This symbol was used by believers in the early days of persecution as a secret sign of their shared faith. The discovery of a beautiful third century church in the northern Israeli town of Megiddo, near the biblical Armageddon shows archeological proofs on usage of Fish as a symbol predating the cross. One mosaics inside the church has fish symbol engraved.The Church was built in third century, decades before Constantine legalized Christianity across the Byzantine Empire. It was ransacked during the persecution years and was excavated in 2005.Public display of Fish as a symbol of Christianity during persecution days definitely shows its wide usage.1

The punishment on the cross remained in force throughout the Roman Empire until the first half of the fourth century. In the early part of the reign of Constantine, he continued to inflict the penalty on the cross to those guilty of denouncing their masters. Later on he abolished this infamous punishment, in memory and in honour of the Passion of Jesus Christ.

The discovery of True Cross, the physical remnants traditionally believed to be the Cross upon which Jesus was crucified influenced Cross becoming a widely used symbol of Christianity.2

2. Cross in Early Thomasine Christianity

The early influence of Christianity in India is greater than it is generally supposed. India has been the scene in the past for rapid and sweeping changes. Buddhism itself once held supreme sway in India but now not many Buddhists are found between Himalayas and Cape Comorin.3

The Nasranis of Malabar may perhaps be only a remnant of what once was a much more widely extended influence. Sian Stele stone in China, Gondophares coins, Takht-i-Bahi to the north-east of Peshawur, Pahlavi writings at the cave near Bombay, multitude of Aramaic inscriptions in northern India, the Nasrani cross at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, the ancient Nasrani cross with Pahlavi inscription at St. Thomas Mount in Chennai, the Pahlavi cross at Goa, the St. Thomas crosses through out Malabar coast, the plates and privileges Nasranis hold in possession dating from unknown period till ( ca 800) , more than 30 Nasrani Sthambams through out Kerala provides sufficient and satisfactory evidence even to the most prejudiced mind about the wide early influence of Christianity in India.4

Given the evidences to demonstrate origin of Christianity in India, it is safe to conclude that Nasranis were never an isolated sect from Christendom.5

Although the archeological evidence to prove the wide usage of Cross as a symbol starts with St. Thomas Cross, which is dated from 6th or 7th century, prior usage which has been lost or still uncovered can not be excluded completely from purview.

Theophilos the Indian, (d. 364) originally from the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean gives as one of the earliest account with respect to Christian doctrine practiced in Malabar. He mentions that nothing relating to doctrine needs correction in Malabar coast. He was an Arian bishop sent by the Roman Emperor Constantius. He visited many parts of India and reformed many things relating to custom but nothing relating to doctrine.

Considering the given evidence for existences of Prelates originating from Mesapotomia, it is safe to conclude that the usage of Cross as an early symbol of Nasranis might have been synchronous with the developments in Christendom atleast till 7th century, where the ancient the trade routes flourished.6

It is not clear from which century onward this cross was in constant use in the Church of Saint Thomas Christians. According to J.Raulin, up to 16th Century, the Saint Thomas Christians didnot use any other image except the Mar Thoma Cross in their churches.7.

3. St. Thomas Cross

It is certain that till the Synod of Diamper ie, 1599, these Crosses were venerated in the Churches of Saint Thomas Christians. Antonio Gouvea in the Sixteenth century work, ” Jornada” states that the old churches of this community were full of crosses of the type discovered from S.Thome ( Mylapore).8.

He also states that veneration of the cross is an old custom in Malabar. “Jornada” is the oldest known written document which calls the cross as St. Thomas Cross. The original word used is “ Cruz de Sam Thome “ meaning Cross of St. Thomas. Interestingly, Gouvea writes about the veneration of the Cross at Cranganore mentioning it as “Cross of Christians”. He also writes about the tradition that this “Cross of Christians” was placed at Cranganore by St. Thomas the Apostle. We do not have any trace of this “Cross of Cranganore”. There is a probability that the “Cross of Christians” at Cranganore acted as the archaic model for all the other crosses erected in different parts of India and outside. Nothing can be conclusively said for want of further evidences. Antonio Gouvea states that only the Prelates could bless the Cross. The inscription in the cross could be referring to the Prelates who consecrated or preserved or cut these crosses.

This would mean that these Crosses were abandoned only after the Syond of Diamper. The St. Thomas Cross discovered from Goa has a Portuguese inscription in the foot meaning “ that which belong to St. Thomas, 1642”, which shows that when the Portuguese got the cross in 1642, it was an important object of veneration.

It is probable that the Crosses were abandoned or destroyed against the background of heightened tensions between St. Thomas Christians and the Portuguese, which became acute by the Coonan Cross Oath of 1653. In the process of latinization, Crucifix, which has better visual impact began to take precedence over the Cross of St. Thomas, as the latter was considered as a remnant of the past links of heresy. These Crosses might have got destroyed in all other places except Mylapore, where it was specially revered as a miraculous Cross because of sweating of blood. Other Crosses of Malabar and other places , to which no such miraculous powers was attached were destroyed by passage of time.9 Among the non Catholic faction of St. Thomas Christians, the Antiochene Cross took the place of St. Thomas cross.

3.1 Tomb of St. Thomas

The re discovery of St. Thomas cross at Mylapore is closely associated with the tomb of the Apostle at St. Thomas Mount. A close examination of the tomb of the Apostle, is helpful in building up understanding on the historicity of St. Thomas cross.10

The Acts of Thomas narrates the adventures of the apostle Judas Thomas as he preaches Christianity on the way to and from India.11

St. Ephrem, the Syrian has several hymns in honour of St. Thomas in which, he sings of the apostle’s preaching of the Gospel in India, of the bringing of his bones to Edessa, of the honour that the Edessene church got thereby, and of the miracles wrought at the shrine.12

Thomas bones have been transferred to Edessa from the site of his martyrdom by a merchant from “India” (ca. A.D. 371). In time the body of the Apostle of the East (as Thomas was known) became one of Edessa’s most venerated relics, second only to the “portrait” and “Letter of Jesus to Abgar.”

Records show that the city’s Monophysites were voicing complaints about Bishop Hiba to the Byzantine Governor in 449 averred that Edessa was glorious in faith.

“First because of the blessing with which it was blessed by the Creator of heaven and earth…, next because it was worthy of the treasure of the bones of the Apostle Thomas who was the first to acknowledge that our Saviour is the Lord God…”13

In fact, Edessa became known as “the City of Thomas” . It was a strange appellation indeed Jude Thaddaeus (Addai) were the original apostolic link of Edessa. Edessan’ s always honored the Church of St.Thomas Christians as “ See of St.Thomas”.

The unbroken reference to the tomb of St. Thomas in India and specifically in Mailapur can be seen from the writings and reference of St. Gregory of Tours ( AD 590), Visit of King Alfred Embassy to the shrine ( AD 883), visit by Marco Polo ( AD 1293), visit by Friar John of Monte Corvino ( AD 1293), mentioned by Blessed Oderic ( AD 1324), visit by Bishop John De Maringolli ( AD 1349), visit by Nicole de Conti ( CA 1430) and so many others before the Portuguese came to Malabar coast.14

3.2 Re-Discovery of St. Thomas Cross at Mylapore

The Portuguese conducted careful research on finding out the tomb of the Apostle after their arrival in India. They disregarded the ancient Syriac writings on transfer of St Thomas relics to Edessa and send a commission to Mylapore to enquire and do excavations on the site of martyrdom.

In 1547 while repairing a hermitage the workmen came across a granite slab with a cross with an unknown inscription. Assuming that the cross dated from the time of Apostle itself, the Portuguese and the Christians there treated it with great reverence.15

A Brahmin scholar gave an interpretation to the inscription relating it to the death of St Thomas and the cross forming from Apostle’s blood. This interpretation was in line with the local traditions in Malabar. This is the first recorded interpretation of the inscriptions found on the cross.16

It became later known as the ‘Bleeding Cross’, as it has started sweating stains resembling blood which reappear even after being scrubbed off.

It first bled publicly during Qurbana held in 1557. It is reported to have sweat at a most prodigious rate upon the day of our Ladies Expectation, which being the 18th of December, in the Year 1557 and continued to have always to sweat upon the same festivity until the Year 1566.17

The Synod of Udayamperoor gave so much credit to this and it dedicated 18th of December to this memory.18

Kircher also reports that at a Qurbana held on December 21 for Blessed Virgin this cross changed to various colors and drips much sweat and blood.19

The last record occasion when it bled public was in 1704. Fr. Guy Tachard, a Catholic priest has recorded about this as explained by then Vicar of the Church, Fr. Gasper Coelho.20

The story speedily developed that this was the cross which had been embraced by the Apostle and its miraculous virtues soon got great fame. The sand from the tomb was also considers to have miraculous healing powers. The belief is a long-standing one, and it has been mentioned by Marco Polo in his travel records

It was eventually set up over an altar in the church of Madonna which was afterwards erected on great Mount and there it exists even today. The church is in Latin Catholic diocese of Chingelpet.

4. Antiquity of the cross & Interpretation of the Inscriptions

4.1 Antiquity of the cross

The language used in the inscriptions are Pahlavi and Syriac script. The inscription in the cross found at St. Thomas Mount is divided in to two unequal parts by a mark like “plus” sign or simple cross. The language used in the inscription is Pahlavi. The style of the letters are of thats used in the Persian empire during Sassanian dynasty.This same inscription is found at another cross found in Kottayam. In Kottayam there are two crosses. The other smaller cross in Kottayam has a part of the same inscription. The other part of the small cross in Kottayam has a quotation from Galatians (V.14). This quotation is written in Estrangelo Syriac and this second cross is attributed to tenth century.

The essential characteristics of Pahlavi are the use of an Aramaic-derived script (i.e. Pahlavi script) and the high incidence of Aramaic words which are used as logograms or ideograms. This middle Iranian language or admixture was in use as early as from 300 BC to the fall of the Sassanid empire and (with exceptions) extending to about 900 CE. The Sassanian dynasty ruled over 226- 650 AD.

Because of the convergence in form of many of the characters, there is a high degree of ambiguity in Pahlavi writing. Many common words were replaced by their Aramaic equivalents, which were used as ideograms. Important religious texts were sometimes transcribed into the Avestan alphabet, which was phonetically ambiguous. That causes problems in reading and transliteration and was the hindrance for the scholars in arriving on a consensus on the interpretations.

Paleographers are in agreement that the style used in lettering in the crosses found in St. Thomas Mount are of 6th century. Carbon dating ( C14) also proves that the oldest of these crosses in India, ie The Saint Thomas Cross at Mylapore is from a period of 6th or 7th century. The Cross at St. Thomas church at Mylapore seems to be the oldest, which is traced back to 650 AD by C14 dating test and may be this is as old as Anirudhapuram cross.21

The St. Thomas crosses at Kottyam, Kadamattam, Muttuchira, Kothanalloor and Alangad are said to be of postdate period between 6th-8th centuries. It is highly probable that the copies of the cross of Mylapore, which was an important center of trade and settlement for the migrating Christians, were later made and sent to the old churches of Malabar located in interior. These crosses are considered to be copies of the Mylapore cross on the basis of the fact all these crosses carry the same Pahlavi inscription as that of Mylapore and the churches where these crosses are found were built at a lter period after 8/9th centuries ( except the Muttuchira Church )22

The Cross discovered from Goa is dated Seventh Century, the dating is based on the evidence of the Pahlavi inscription written on the stone in the form of an arch, which evidently speaks of an origin before the Islamisation of the Indian Ocean trade in the eight century.23

4.2 Interpretation of the Inscriptions

Due to the high degree of ambiguity in Pahlavi writing, scholars have not yet reached on an agreement on the interpretations in St. Thomas Cross. Because of the convergence in form of many of the characters, vowel usage, the interpretations were read differently.

There has been attempts to decipher the inscriptions on the cross since 1561. A number of Scholars have interpreted the inscriptions differently.

4.2.1 Interpretation by Pingali Suranna

In 1561 Portuguese invited a reputed Brahmin scholar, Pingali Suranna from the Vijayanagara kingdom to decipher the inscription. He said that the inscriptions contained no less than 36 hieroglyphics, each of which was equivalent to a sentence. His versions was as follows,

“ That at the time of the sagamo Law, Thomas, a man of God, was sent by the son of God ( whose disciple, he was ) to these parts to bring the people of this nation to the knowledge of God: that he had built there a temple and done miracles; and that finally when he was praying on his knees before that cross he had been run through with a lance by a Brahmin and that the cross was tinged with the blood of the Saint in His everlasting memory”24

4.2.2 Interpretation by A.C. Burnell

A.C. Burnell, was the first European to attempt a translation of the inscription in 1873. Dr. Burnell translation of the inscriptions is as follows,

“In punishment by the cross (was) the suffering of this one:
He who is the true Christ, and God above and Guide ever pure.”25

Dr. Burnell translation’s of inscription in small cross in Kottayam is as follows,

” Let me not glory except in the cross of our Lourd Jesus Christ” ( Syriac translation )

“Who is the true Messiah, and God above, and Holy Ghost.” ( Pahlavi translation )

This translation makes good sense and appropriate but not all scholars were convinced that Dr. Burnell found the true solution. From 1874, there have been attempts by a number of scholars to give different translations but were not accepted by many.

4.2.3 Interpretation by Dr. Martin Haug

Dr. Martin Haug of Munich translates it as follows,

“He that believes in the Messiah and in God in the height and
also in the Holy Ghost is in the grace of him who suffered the pain of the cross.”

4.2.4 Interpretation by Dr. C. W. West

Dr. C. W. West provided another translation in two ways as follows,

(1) “What freed the true Messiah, the forgiving, the upbraiding, from hardship ?
The crucifixion from the tree and the anguish of this.”

(2) “ He whom the suffering of the self same Messiah, the forgiving and upraising has saved, is offering the plea whose origin was the agony of this “

4.2.5 Interpretation from two different centers

In 1908, two Professors located in two different centers transalated the inscription rather similairy except one word “ Through the cross ( suffering is the word given by one of the professors) the Messiah brought salvation to the world”26

4.2.5 Interpretation by Prof F C Burkitt and C.P.T. Winckworth

Prof FC Burkitt and C.P.T. Winckworth, the then reader of Assyriology in the University of Cambridge studied the inscriptions and produced a new version. This has been discussed at the International Congress of Orientalists held at Oxford in 1925. The interpretation is as follows,

“My Lord Christ, have mercy up on Afras son of Chaharbukht the Syrian, who cut this ( or, who caused this to be cut )”27

This met with wide acceptance at International Congress of Orientalists and has never been radically challenged.

Winckworth has later revised his readings and interpretation as follows,

“ My Lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chaharbukht, the Syrian, who preserved this ( cross)”28

4.2.6 Interpretation by Gerd Gropp

In 1970, Gerd Gropp translated the inscriptions as follows,

“ Our Lord Messiah may show mercy on Gabriel, the son of Chaharbokht ( literally meaning having four sons), the grandson of Durzad ( literally meaning born in distant land ), who made this ( cross) “29

In 1997, he changed his translation as follows: “ Our Lord Messiah may show mercy over Gabriel, son of Chaharbokht. Long life may be for him who made this ( cross) “30

5.Symbolism in St. Thomas Cross

Four main elements in St. Thomas Cross are 1) Three steps at the bottom 2) the lotus ( leaf) shaped covering the steps 3) the Cross with out the figure of Jesus with fruit like appearance / projection at the four ends 4) the descending position of the dove at the summit of the cross touching it gently.31

The symbolic meaning of the cross as given by Dr.Puthiakunnel, Dr.Pathikulangara, Dr.Mannooramparampil are,

The Cross with out the figure of Jesus and with flowery arms symbolizing joy points to the resurrection theology of St. Paul, the Holy Spirit on the top shows that Christ was risen through the work of the Spirit. The lotus symbolizing Buddhism and the Cross over it shows that Christianity was established in the land of Buddha. The 3 steps indicate Calvary and the rivulets, channels of grace flowing from the Cross.32

Varying degree of Indian Symbolism can be find in St. Thomas Cross. The cross rises from a lotus blossom which forms its base. Lotus is the national flower of India and it represents the ancient civilization symbolizing purity and spontaneous generation. It also symbolize divine birth. At the bottom of the cross there are three steps representing God the Father. The cross itself represents God the Son, and a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, is at the top of the cross. The lotus represents a natural inculturation with Indian civilization symbolizing divine birth. Some critiques has pointed out a Buddhist influence, as lotus is a widely used symbol of divinity in Buddhism. Some of the St.Thomas crosses in Kerala, has leaves which are downward pointing. This is indigenous. This symbolism and tradition are not find in Persian or Middle East or even in Byzantine art.

6. General Observations

6.1 Government of India Centenary Stamp

In 3rd July 1973, Government of India released picture of St.Thomas cross as a postal stamp.

It was released as part of the 19th death centenary of Thomas the Apostle. This was released by Governor of Kerala and the head of Syro Malabar Church.

6.2 Indian heresy a myth

For centuries heresy maniacs have been trying hard to give evidence to support theories of heresy among the Indian Christians in earlier century. In fact the presence of an apostolic body of Christians in the coast of Malabar was not acceptable to a large section of western historians. Since the arrival of Portuguese, many latin and protestant writers wrote volemic articles accusing the Church of St. Thomas Christians as heretics. With out any evidential support they claimed that with in the limits of the Church surrounded all hands by Heathenism, there exist Indian Nestorianism’s and many other things.

St. Thomas cross as an ancient heritage which is of a period when Heathenism was strong in other churches, clearly point that there are not even simple evidences not even to point any slight deviations from the main stream teaching of Christology.33

One of the accusations on Church of St. Thomas Christians in early western writings was deviation from teachings on person characteristic of Christ. On a quick look at the translations of Dr. Burnell proves that nothing can be inferred from the order in which persons of the trinity are named. It is absolutely same as that of Christian apostolic benediction. Other accusations (which were of late origin in 1990′s) were related to Manichaeism. PV Mathew published five books relating St. Thomas Cross and Manichaeism. PK Mathew triggered off a controversy in 1991 by an article published in “Assisi” saying that St. Thomas cross is not Christian but Manichean and all the old crosses are Manichean crosses.These arguments basically used misinterpretations and misrepresentations of some of the statements by AC Burnell in order to make them look scholarly. These arguments kept on changing as Scholars refuted the mis represenations. These were circulated through media using periodicals, articles and leaflets. Many leaflets and articles were published on this subject by “Liturgical Action Committee” ( LAC, Ernakulam), “Vachanadhara” and “Shalom Times” along with others. In the mean time many scholars have come up with detailed scholarly studies which disproved the arguments involved ending the controversy.

In fact, Dr. AC Burnell himself in “ On some Pahlavi Inscriptions in South India” writes that “ This statement the (inscription) appears to be intended to contradict the Manichean doctrine that the crucified Messiah was the son of a poor widow, and not Jesus. If the Pahlavi inscriptions were Manichean, they would be in a different character”.34

6.3 Influence on Indigenous art

The remarkable influence of Mar Thoma Cross

can been seen in Nazraney Sthambams in their floral pattern, symbols of lotus usage and on the wooden art and mural paintings in old churches in Kerala.

6.4 Link with the Apostle

The widely accepted interpretations are of Dr. Burnell, C.P.T. Winckworth and Gerd Gropp. “Afras son of Chaharbukht the Syrian”, as interpreted from the inscription by Gerd Gropp may be the Prelate Mar Piruz (Prodh, 8thcentury, also written as Aproito in sixteenth century writings ) . There is a tradition of associating a granite stone with St. Thomas martyrdom. Tradition is that the cross was formed on the stone by Thomas own blood. It might be that people kept the stone sacred and later on the cross was engraved on this stone. It might have happened during Mar Piruz (Prodh) time or earlier.

The sixteenth century “Jornada” is the oldest known written document which calls these cross as “St. Thomas Cross”. It seems that these crosses were known as Saint Thomas Cross during the sixteenth century. The wide usage and the finding of this cross in various ancient sites of Christians remarkably shows the reverence and veneration, this cross had in ancient time and its link the Apostle either directly or indirectly.

7. Locations of the Cross

Saint Thomas crosses were excavated from Mylapore ( Madras- Saint Thomas Mount) in Tamil Nadu, Agassaim in Goa, multiple locations in Kerala, Anuradhapura [ 2 nos ] in Sri Lanka and from Taxila at Pakistan.

In Kerala it has been excavated through out the state from, Kadamattam, Muttuchira, Kothanalloor,Kottayam [ 2 nos ] and Alangad.

7.1 Locations

The crosses are at the following locations,

1. St. Thomas Mount, Tamil Nadu- The Cross is at Our Lady of Expectations Church under the Latin Catholic diocese of Chingelpet ( Madras-Mylapore). This Cross is considered as the oldest cross in India.

2. Kadamattam, Kerala. This Cross is at St. George Syrian Church of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. This Cross was found at the southern wall of the Madbaha. The Cross is dated between 6-8th Century.

3. Muttuchira, Kerala. This Cross is at Holy Ghost Church under the diocese of Palai of the Syro Malabar Church. This Cross was discovered this century during church renovation. The Cross is dated between 6-8th Century.

4. Kottayam, Kerala. This Cross is at St. Mary’s Church under the Southist diocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church. One cross is considered of late origin ( Ca 10th century) and the other dated between 6-8th century.

5. Kothanalloor, Kerala. This Cross is at St.Gervasis and Prothasis church under the diocese of Palai of the Syro Malabar Church. The Cross was discovered during renovation at 1895. This Cross is dated between 6-8th century.

6. Alangad, Kerala. This Cross is at St. Mary’s church under the diocese of Ernakulam- Angamaly of the Syro Malabar Church. This is discovered in recent years by late Panjikaran.

7. Agasaim, Goa. The Cross is now kept at Pilar Seminary Museum. This Cross is dated of 6th Century. The cross has been discovered by Fr. Cosme Costa S.F.X near River Zuari at Agasaim in 2001.

8. Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The cross is kept at Anuradhapura museum. It was found during excavations in 1912 Anuradhapura [ 2 nos ]. Anuradhapura, was one-time capital of Sri Lanka. Based on the available studies on this cross, it seems to be identical to Indian crosses. There is also a baptismal fonts dating 5th century discovered from Anuradhapura. This Cross is considered as the oldest Cross.

9. Taxila, Pakistan. The cross is kept at Anglican cathedral at Lahore. It was found in 1935 in a field near the site of the ancient city of Sirkap. The Taxila cross is similar in shape with a common characteristic that they are more or less equilateral. Some Pakistani scholars have pointed out similarity between Taxila cross which are dated ( ca 2-6 century) and St. Thomas cross.

8. Some Similarities

8.1 Some scholars has suggested that letters are said to resemble the letters on the Sian Stele stone in China erected in the year 781 to

record the arrival of some Chaldean missionaries in 636. The Sian Stele was discovered in 1623. The similarity is mostly on letters used.35

8.2 The cross has similarities with different crosses used by Eastern Christians such as Si-ngan-fou-China Cross, Ravenna Italy Cross, East and West Syrian Crosses, Armenian Orthodox, Khachkar crosses. Etc36

8.3 These crosses also has similarity with other ancient Persian Crosses found in the Kottakkavu ( Parur) Saint Thomas Church under the diocese of Ernakulam-Ankamaly of the Syro Malabar Church and St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Niranam under the Niranam diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

8.4 Nilakkal Cross- There was an ancient cross found from Nilakkal. A part of which is said to be at Kuvappalli. This came from the ruined Christian settlement of Nilakkal. It is said that it has an inscription in Roman or Greek capitals, but that is so illegible to read. The other portion of this cross left at Nilakkal was not found by Fr. Hosten when he visited the site again in 1924.37

9.Conclusion

The Saint Thomas Cross is an expression of natural belief, heritage and simple piety of Nasranis. They were revered by Saint Thomas Christians because these Crosses were the expression of their ancient Christian faith. All the translations done by renowned authorities in Archaeology and Assyriology have discounted its relation with any profound theology or Nestorianism or Manichaeism or anything else.

Saint Thomas Cross has been venerated by all St Thomas Christians from ancient times and were treated as particularly sacred. Ancient Saint Thomas Cross through out modern Kerala attest the importance this Cross had in earlier centuries in the Saint Thomas Christian community. May be because of the link with The Apostle, this has been considered very sacred and were kept inside the Madhbaha of the Church. Jornada of sixteenth century is the earliest surviving written document which name this cross as Saint Thomas Cross.

It appears that indigenous versions of Mar Thoma Cross has been widely replicated in different forms in Nazraney Sthambams (Giant open air free standing rock crosses) and influenced in wooden sculptures and painting in old churches of Kerala. The Cross has many similarities with Crosses used by Eastern Christians and other ancient Persian Crosses found in Kerala
These crosses were originally set up by visionary forefathers, to be a witness for the churches of Malabar, Mylapore, Goa, Sri Lanka and modern Pakistan, which are separated by the breadth of a great Indian peninsula, so that in the times to come, if circumstances alienate them or annihilate either, there might remain some visible token that they are of same stock and be a beacon for the future generations.

This is the history as our forefathers desired it, splendid, magical and specific. The Saint Thomas Cross continues to be rightly venerated by all the Christians of India as it is the most ancient Christian emblem yet discovered in India. The efforts of some sections with in the Nasrani community for manipulative presentation of the history and heritage of Christianity in India need to be abandoned.38

Pictures-

1] St. Thomas cross at St. Thomas Mount- Our Lady of Expectations Church under the Latin Catholic diocese of Chingelpet.
2] Cross at Kottayam- St. Mary’s Church under the Southist diocese of Kottayam of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
3] Old picture of St. Thomas Mount
4] Cross at Kadamattam-St. George Syrian Church of the Malankara Orthodox Church
5] Cross discovered from Goa -Pilar Seminary Museum, Goa
6] Cross at Muttuchira-Holy Ghost Church under the diocese of Palai of the Syro Malabar Church
7] Cross at Kothanalloor- St.Gervasis and Prothasis church under the diocese of Palai of the Syro Malabar Church
8] St. Thomas cross Stamp
9] Floral pattern in giant crosses
10] Kottayam small cross
11) Persian Cross at Saint Thomas Church, North Paravur under the diocese of Ernakulam-Ankamaly of the Syro Malabar Church.

Further Reading

1.Vazhuthanapally-”Archaeology of Mar Sliba”
2.Thadikkatt-” The Cross in different traditions”
3.A E Burnell- ” Some Pahlavi Inscriptions in South India”- Kottayam Cross
4.A Mingana-” The Early spread of Christianity in India”- Muttuchira Cross
5.ASR Ayyar-” A New Persian Cross from Travancore”- Kadamattam Cross
6.T K Joseph-” Another Persian Cross in Travancore”- Kadamattam Cross
7.T K Joseph-” A Pahlavi inscription around the Cross”- Kadamattam Cross
8. Varghese Pathikulangara-”Mar Toma Sliba, Saint Thomas Cross, Short Explanation, historical and Symbolical
9.Varghese Pathikulangara- “St.Thomas Cross – The Flowery Cross”
10.E W West-” Inscription around Crosses in South India”
11.CPT Winckworth-” A New Interpretation of the Pahlavi Cross- Inscriptions of South India”
12.George Menachery- “Ancient Kerala Christian Art”
13.Geo Thadikkatt-” Liturgical Identity of Mar Toma Nazrani Church”
14. Ken Parry -“Stone crosses of Kerala”
15.George Menachery- “Rock Crosses of Kerala”
16.Gerd Gropp-”Die Pahlavi Inschrift auf dem Thomaskreuz in Madras”- Mylapore Cross
17.Herman D’Souza- ” In the steps of Saint Thomas”

Courtesy :

Many thanks to Sandeep Thomas ( Cross at Muttuchira) , Amool Joby, John Mathew ( Cross at Goa), M Thomas Antony ( Cross at Kothanalloor) for the pictures .Many thanks to Sungeo and Angus Joseph for the suggestions.

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Author can be reached on admin at nasrani dot net,
Last revised- 08/03/2009.
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Footnotes
  1. [http://www.armageddonchurch.com/] []
  2. [ The cross as a Christian symbol or “seal” came into use at least as early as the second century (see “Apost. Const.” iii. 17; Epistle of Barnabas, xi.-xii.; Justin, “Apologia,” i. 55-60; “Dial. cum Tryph.” 85-97); and the marking of a cross upon the forehead and the chest was regarded as a talisman against the powers of demons (Tertullian, “De Corona,” iii.; Cyprian, “Testimonies,” xi. 21-22; Lactantius, “Divinæ Institutiones,” iv. 27, and elsewhere).

    Accordingly the Christian Fathers had to defend themselves, as early as the second century, against the charge of being worshipers of the cross, as may be learned from Tertullian, “Apologia,” xii., xvii., and Minucius Felix, “Octavius,” xxix. Christians used to swear by the power of the cross (see Apocalypse of Mary, viii., in James, “Texts and Studies,” iii. 118).

    Nevertheless Jewish teachers in the Middle Ages declared that Christians must be believed when swearing by the cross, as, in reality, they swear by the true God (Isaac of Corbeil quoted by Güdemann, “Gesch. d. Erz. u. Cultur in Italien,” 1880, i. 90).- Jewish Encyclopedia] []

  3. There are many archeological evidences to prove the existence of a very strong Buddhist community in ancient Kerala. On the contrary you can not find any surviving Buddhist communities in South India. []
  4. Till 1834, questions on St. Thomas mission were around the historical figure King Gondophares. Did a king of the name of Gondophares reign over any portion of India? Was he a contemporary of the Apostolic age? Where was his kingdom situated? Was it practicable for the Apostle Thomas to have had access to it?

    In the succeeding two decades, less than thirty thousand coins bearing Greek and Indian legends, and extending over a period of more than three centuries, had been found in Afghanistan and the Punjab. A large, if not the greater, number belong to Greek princes who ruled over the country as inheritors of and successors to the conquests of Alexander the Great. Another portion bear the evidence of Scythian conquerors, confirmed also by other authorities, and of Parthian kings and rulers who had become masters of these territories.
    The coins of Gondophares, the king with whom we are concerned, belong to the latter category – (AE Medlycott – India and the Apostle Thomas, has a detailed analysis)-

    The Acts of Thomas describes him embarking on a sea voyage to India, thus connecting Thomas to the west coast of India and his martyrdom with a king in South. Though the Acts are usually considered to be moral entertainments of a legendary nature, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea is a surviving roughly contemporary guide to the routes commonly being used for navigating the Arabian Sea. At the times the Acts were analysed, and until the discovery of his coins in the region of Kabul and the Punjab, there was no reason to suppose that a king named “Gondophares” had ever really existed.

    The reign of Gondophares, is now an established archeological fact. The votive inscription of his 26th reginal year that was unknown until 1872. Now it is known that his regime commenced in 21 CE, so he was in fact reigning as late as 47 CE. []

  5. See different articles in NSC NETWORK []
  6. [ Once the Gondophares mystery was solved, skeptics has started asking the question how was travel from Mesopotamia to Malabar coast possible during the begining of Christianity ?. Are their any evidence for trade relationships or travel during or before Apostolic times ?.

    Muziris (Kodungallur) and Nelcyndis or Nelkanda (near Kollam) in South India, are mentioned as flourishing ports, in the writings of Pliny (23-79 AD). Pliny has given an accurate description of the route to India, the country of Cerebothra (the Cheras). Pliny has referred to the flourishing trade in spices, pearls, diamonds and silk between Rome and Southern India in the early centuries of the Christian era. Though the Cheras controlled Kodungallur port, Southern India belonged to the Pandyan Kingdom, that had sent embassies to the court of Augustus Caesar.

    Sufficient archeological evidences have been discovered during the excavations in these ancient ports. Hoards of ancient Roman coins are being discovered through out Malabar coast in the last few centuries. []

  7. Raulin ” Historia Ecclesiae Malabaricae cum Diamperitana Synodo,394 []
  8. Antonio Gouvea- Jornada-Original work page-162 – []
  9. Dr. Pius Malekandathil, “ St. Thomas Christians and the Indian Ocean” []
  10. Since lot of skepticism has been created around the tomb of Apostle, it is worthwhile to go through some of the books written on the topic, before we consider the historicity of the tomb of the Apostle.

    The following passage from AE Medlycott “India and the Apostle Thomas – an enquiry with a critical analysis of Acta Thoma” clearly outlines the skepticism and their excuses.

    “ On the broad fact that Saint Thomas the Apostle according to the evidence of antiquity had preached the gospel and sealed his teaching by his martyrdom in India, it should be taken for granted that if his tomb were to be discoverable anywhere it would naturally be found with in the limits of India proper. Yet, this which in itself is but an historical aphorism, has met with the strongest opposition ever since the Portuguese first announced the discovery of his tomb at Mylapoor. This opposition has come first and chiefly from quarters which might cause an impartial historian, who patiently investigates the whole history of case, to consider the same as being rather the outcome of ‘odium theologicum’ than arising from insufficient historical evidence.

    A placible excuse for the general feeling of skepticism created by these writers was, in part of, offered by the want of previous historical knowledge shown by the Portuguese authorities and writers in India who claimed to have discovered the body or the entire remains of Apostle, coupled with uncritical details.

    Once the opposition view arising from the doubt regarding the tomb, was taken and ruthlessly exploited, it was extended to the preaching of the Gospel by the Apostle with in the geographical limits of India and a widely extending prejudice was formed.

    It is only in more recent times, when men indifferent to that ‘odium’ or guided by their familiarity with or their long researches in India approached the subject, that they came to gradually to admit Apostle mission to India and to consider the strong historical claim of Mylapoor to be the possible site of his martyrdom and burial are not unfounded.”

    []

  11. The narratives in The Acts of Thomas’ tells us that the Apostle Thomas, much against his will and inclination, had to undertake the work of preaching the Gospel to the Indians. To induce him to obey the mandate he had received, our Lord appeared to him in person, and sold him to Habban, a minister of King Gondophares of the Indians, who had been sent to Syria in search of a competent builder, able to undertake the construction of a palace for his sovereign.

    Thomas in the company of Habban left by sea for India, which was reached after a rapid passage. Both proceeded to the court, where Thomas was presented to the king, and undertook the erection of the building. Several other incidents are narrated regarding the Apostle, mixed up with much fabulous matter; these we pass over for the present.
    In the second half of the story Thomas, is in the dominions of a South Indian king, named in the Syriac text Mazdai, in the Greek version MisdatoV, and in the Latin Misdeus.

    It was in this country that he brought his apostolic labours to a close by receiving the martyr’s crown.

    The major Syriac witnesses of the Acts of Thomas dates to 936 C.E. the earliest Syriac witnesses to the text, a fragmentary palimpset (Sinai 30), dates from the 5th or 6th century. The major Greek witnesses date to the 11th century, although there are partial Grek witnesses dating from the 10th. Some form of the work was clearly in circulation by the end of the 4th century when testimonies begin. []

  12. In one of his fourth century Syriac hymns, he has included some allusions to Thomas’s mission,

    “Lo, in India, are thy miracles, O Thomas,
    and in our land is thy triumph,
    and everywhere our festival”

    “The sunburnt India thou has made fair. . . .
    A tainted land of dark people thou hast purified. . . .
    More than snow and white linen,
    the dark bride of India thou has made fair. . .
    (and) the cross of light has obliterated India’s darkened shades.”

    Presumably St. Ephrem, the Doctor of all Syrian churches and Catholic Church was speaking metaphorically, about bringing Christian light to dark Indian souls. But perhaps he was also referring to the color of skin, which would better fit many Indians of the south than those of the northwest . Quite possibly he intended both meanings.

    “Blessed art thou, Thomas, the Twin in thy deeds.
    Twin is thy spiritual power;
    nor one thy power, nor one thy name:…
    Blessed art thou, O Thrice- Blessed city,
    thou hast acquired, this pearl, none greater doth India yield;
    Blessed art thou, worthy to possess the priceless gem.
    Praise to thee, 0 Gracious Son, who thus thy adorers dost enrich.” ( A.E. Medlycott. India and the Apostle Thomas, pp.26-27 quoted by Firth p. 6 ) []

  13. Edessa the Blessed City, Segal, Judah. 1970 []
  14. India and the Apostle Thomas – an enquiry with a critical analysis of Acta Thoma by AE Medlycott []
  15. A history of Christianity in India, S.Neill, p-47-48 []
  16. The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian: Concerning the Kingdoms, Marco Polo, Henry Yule, Henri Cordier-, P-35 []
  17. A short history of the church of Malabar, M Geddes []
  18. Religious Communication in India, by John V. Vilanilam []
  19. Latin translations of Van Tuyl, P.P Godigney ( Jesuit rector of Cochin ) []
  20. In the steps of St Thomas, Herman D’Souza, p-61-63 []
  21. Dr. Pius Malekandathil, “ St. Thomas Christians and the Indian Ocean” []
  22. Dr. Pius Malekandathil, “ St. Thomas Christians and the Indian Ocean”- as quoted from Gerd Gropp, Die Pahlavi- Inschrift, P-267 []
  23. Dr. Pius Malekandathil, “ St. Thomas Christians and the Indian Ocean” []
  24. Dr. Pius Malekandathil, “ St. Thomas Christians and the Indian Ocean” []
  25. A.C. Burnell, “ Pahlavi Inscriptions in South India” in Indian Antiqury, 3, November 1874, P -313 []
  26. Herman D’Souza, In the steps of St.Thomas,Madras,1983, pp 60-62 []
  27. The Journal of Theological studies ( 1929), P-241, “ A new interpretation of the Pahlavi Cross Inscription of Southern India” in T K Joseph, Kerala Society Papers, Vol 1& II pp 161-164. []
  28. Revised Interpretation of the Pahlavi Cross Inscription of Southern India, T K Joseph Kerala Society Papers, Vol I & II pp 267-269 []
  29. Gerd Gropp, Die Pahlavi – Inschrift auf dem Thomaskreuz in Madras” in Archaeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran, Neue Folge Band 3, 1970, pp 267-271 []
  30. Gerd Gropp, “ Christian Maritime Trade of Sasanian Age in the Persian Gulf”, in International Archaeologie, 6, 1997, p-86 []
  31. Vazhuthanapally, Archaeology of Mar Thoma Sliba []
  32. Dr. Geo Thadikkatt, ” Liturgical Identity of the Mar Toma Nazrani Church “- Pathikulangara, ” Liturgy- Experiances” []
  33. With out any evidences some section of Catholic priests from Ernakulam, tried linking St. Thomas cross with heresies last decade. It was done to support westernization of one faction of Nasranis by advocating for hybridization. It was a pathetic effort to use the ignorance of Nasrani’s to score mileage on power politics. A hybridization process can help to sustain and advocate for further westernization. Similar to some western writers, they accused the Church of St. Thomas Chrsitians had Manichean influence. Sadly this was being done in very un ethical manner causing anger among the entire Nasrani community against these proponents []
  34. “ Liturgical Identity of the Mar Toma Nazrani Church’ by Dr. Geo Thadikkatt. – The various arguments over the connection of Manichaeism with the St. Thomas Cross as summarized by Dr. Geo Thadikkat are under the following titles,
    All of these are misrepresetations.Very detailed discussion of the invalidity of the arguments can be read in the same book.
    1. The Persian Cross was adorned by Manicheans
    2.What is seen under the Cross is not the lotus
    2.Mani died on the Cross
    3.The dove on the top of the Cross is the symbol of Mani
    4.The Pahlavi langauge seen in the cross is a strong indication that the Cross is Manichean
    5.The Cross was found under earth
    6.Manichaeism had many followers in India, especially in South
    7.The Manicheans of Kerala lived in Manigrams. []
  35. The Nestorian documents and relics in China, P Y Saeki []
  36. Please read the discussion. Many thanks to John Mathew, M Thomas Antonoy and Alphy []
  37. The Author doesnot know of any studies about this Cross.It is not known if this cross has similarities or exactly same as Mar Thoma Cross []
  38. The Mylapoor Nasranis moved to Malabar coast over the years. ( A good account can be seen in “Origin of Christianity in India by Father Benedict Vadakkekara” ) Mumbai or Kalyan is also supposed to be another ancient center with not much historical trace remaining. Modern Parkistan and Afgahnistan is another center which is not existing per see. There is also no trace of ancient Christians in Sri Linka. So far one cross has been found at Mylapoor, Six at modern Kerala, One at Goa, One at Taxila and Two at Sri Lanka.

    What mysteries of the universe future unlocks is not known. Given the evidences it is safe to make a statement that their would be many Mar Thoma crosses hiding in the mud expecting an enthusiastic explorer. []

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59 Comments

  1. Early Nasrani existence in Ceylon is a new information. It is fascinating. Fore fathers leaving marks for future generations to understand the continuity of life.What a great idea !!!

    Many people are not aware of the existence of St. Tomas cross in Sri Lanka . Do we know more about the early Sri Lankan Nasranis. Are there any early documents about Sri Lankan Nasranis relation with Kerala Nasranis or with Syrians.

    Our knowledge of any specific subject is minuscule in this world. But our rich legacy of wisdom, tradition, virtue, religion, symbol, experience, and knowledge, though imperfect, is more than adequate for discovering further truth and especially for acting in faith, hope, and love as we allow God to mold our conscience and guide our efforts to serve our neighbors as ourselves.

    Post a Reply
  2. Beautiful posting, just like the cross. I was thinking this beautiful cross has an uninspiring origin because of some of the accusations ran back and forth earlier.

    Its great to be part of this heritage.

    Post a Reply
  3. Dear Author,

    I am reading your article and will take some time to get in all the matters.

    Meanwhile , please would you advise as to why the Roman Emperor Constantius wnated to know about the Malabari Nasrani. Is this the same as Emperor Constantine? Also what was his authority to reform in India.

    During the early several centuries, I believe that the Indian Nasranis were living a secluded relgious life, far away from relgious politics of Rome or the Middle East. The Malabari Nasranis were under Nestorian spiritual leadership and most probably the mother church was the ‘Orthodox Syrian Church of the East which was in Persia/Mesopotamia (I am not sure by what name the church went but it was certainly Nestorian). When it was Nestorian how can a Roman Emperor sent his bishop to report on Malabari matters?

    Kindly advise.

    Theophilos the Indian, (d. 364) originally from the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean gives as one of the earliest account with respect to Christian doctrine practiced in Malabar. He mentions that nothing relating to doctrine needs correction in Malabar coast. He was an Arian bishop sent by the Roman Emperor Constantius. He visited many parts of India and reformed many things relating to custom but nothing relating to doctrine.

    Considering

    Post a Reply
  4. Dear Jabin

    The general Christian story in Sri Lanka, is known from 16th century after the arrival of Portuguese. The ancient church appears to have become extinct. There are some references and evidences about early influence. Professor Senerath Paranavitana who was a pioneering archeologist and epigraphist of Sri Lanka mentions that, their were Christians in Sri Lanka in ancient times. It appears mainly due to Indian Malabar influence and trade relations.

    Anuradhapura was the ancient capital of Cyelon. “Mahawamsa”, the great Chronicle of the Sinhalese records that even church was built for men of Maditerranean or Persian origin. A baptismfont has been excavated from here.

    The neighboring India had Christians from the very early times, so there is no doubt that they would have had a great impact on Sri Lanka specially because of the geographic proximity of these two countries and also because of trade and commerce that linked the two countries.

    See this, (Daily News Report ).

    I think the first one to give a reference about the mutual existence, is Cosmas Indicopleustes [Indicopleustes is Latin for ‘Indian Navigator’]. He is an Egyptian who traveled to south India between 520 and 525 AD .He cite the existence of large Christian communities in southern India (“in Male (Malabar) where the pepper grows”) and in Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

    There are actually two Mar Thoma Crosses excavated from Anuradhapura. It indeed is very interesting.

    Post a Reply
  5. Dear George Mathew

    This is the most beautiful cross most of us have ever seen, still some sections with in tried to malign the simple piety of Nasranis. A kind of “not so clear “general thinking has been created by some vested sections over the last few decades. This write up is an effort to prove that we are right and we are proud of what we are.

    Emperor Constantius is the son of Constantine. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantius_II ]

    Theophilos the Indian, was send by Constantius around 354. He was being send to a mission to Arabia Felix ( South Arabia) and Abyssinia. After the mission he sailed his home, Maldives. He is originally from Maldives and he might have come to Malabar on his own. He visited different parts of India. In India, he was referring to Christians who use Syriac in their liturgy and are inhabitants of coastal region ie, Malabar. He reformed the practice of the Christians on hearing the reading of the Gospel in sitting.

    From the very late first century B. C. saw a great upsurge in sea-routes travel between India and Egypt. For more than two hundred years – until disturbed by the political upheavals within the Roman empire in the 3rd century – numerous merchants voyaged to India. The trade route flourished till 7th century.Some of them came to reside on a long-term basis in Indian port-towns and their would have been many missionaries too. We can not say we were completely cut off.

    There is also references about Frumentius of Tyros who came to India with his father.He remained here for many years as the household superintendent under an Indian king. When he returned to Alexandria, he was appointed Bishop of India in the year 336, and presumably returned to India to spread the Christian gospel.

    Frumentius of Tyros was in Ethiopia around 360. While on a visit to India, he along with his brother Aidesios of the Äthiopiern was imprisoned but was later released and appointed as teacher to the prince. He preached Christianity while in India. On return to Alexandria, he was appointed Bishop of Ethiopia and was called “Apostel Abessiniens”.

    [ This is a good article by Prof. Jean Sedlar , University of Pittsburgh on Indo- Greek relations if you would like to explore further.
    http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/sedlar.htm ]

    These are mostly missionaries who came here and reformed the practices in the budding stages.

    Our mother church is Church of East. Nestorius lived between CA 386 and 451.He was Archbishop of Constantinople and Nestorianism was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

    Church of East doesnot have that much Nestor influence. It is a great Church and calling them Nestorians, in my opinion is an effort to sideline their contribution to Christendom.

    Consider this situation, all other churches we call them by the name, they themself like to be refered. The only exception is Church of East.These days they are refered as Chaldean/ Assyrians with different proto combinations.

    Post a Reply
  6. I have two questions after the read,

    If this is such a great heritage of Nasranis why is that Church of Madona is in Latin Catholic diocese of Chingelpet. There are two Catholic groups of Nasranis. Why is that they were kept bay from Santhome?

    This cross is seen in prominence in all the groups churches expect those belonging to Syro Malabar the erst while Chaldeans in Erankulam, Thrishur belt. Are the Syro Malabar people in Erankulam, Thrishur belt different from the bunch. I should correct my statement, in Catholic set up its not the people who decides. The priests are the bunch who impose their decisions on people. Are the priests in these areas different from the make of normal population of Nasranis.?

    Since DNA is the trend, do you have any information about the DNA test of priests from these belts ?

    I found it interesting to explore. Sorry if anyones feelings got hurt.

    Post a Reply
  7. Well, thanks for the nice presentation. Its really hard to get any good write ups on Mar Thoma Cross.
    Is it available free to re produce ?

    In what Syriac is the Galatians (V.14) quotation in Kottayam Cross ?

    Is there any other difference, other than leaves upward and downword between these Six crosses found in Kerala ?

    Post a Reply
  8. Dear Binoy

    There are many articles on St.Thomas cross. Read this article by Varghese Pathikulangara ( http://www.thenazrani.org/ ) which gives the Resurrection based Eastern theological explanation and Symbolism..

    The Galatians (V.14) is in Estrangelo Syriac. You are free to reproduce or reuse it for good purposes.

    Post a Reply
  9. Nilackal cross is not included here.It is said that the cross found at Nilackal was also
    St.Thomas cross.I think its the same cross at Nilackal church.Most of the families in Meenachil taluk have traditional connections with Nilackal christians.

    How did the Nilackal Christians become extinct and had to move to other locations.

    Post a Reply
  10. Dear Vinoy,

    Good Question from you! I remember reading somewhere in the web that one of the possible reasons for those in the Nilackal area moving/ceased to exist was that there was war between rajahs. The Nasranis fled from Nilackal to escape from the effects of the war or they lost political patronage.

    Now another question one may ask is why did our Nasranis choose Nilackal as a habitat? Nilackal was so deep in the forests and was pretty dangerous to raise a family.

    While making the decision to settle at Nilackal, our forefathers would have been aware thtat land was not scarce at places nearer to ‘civilization’ like Kallada, Cochin, Kayamkulam etc.. The only reason I can see for choosing Nilacka is that it was a ‘Trade Post’ between the Kingdoms of Travancore and the Pandya Kingdoms. Pepper and cardamom grew wild there (but now at a higher elevation) and our forefathers would have harvested them and ‘exported’ them towards east and west or something like that. I think the Western Ghats from Nilackal would have to be climbed and crossed to reach the trading posts of Cumbum/Theni in the Pandya kingdom.

    Or was the decision to settle down in Nillackal done as a conscious effort to create a chieftienship/kingdom of their own far from established threats where they could live the ‘Nasrani way of life? The Nasranis of Persia did the same thing. They did settle in remote mountains where only ‘eagles dare’.

    Now a logical thinking would be that if it was trade that drew them to Nilackal, then it would have been the fall of trade which drew them away from Nilackal

    But please do get more information as to why they choose Nilackal to settle down and why they got removed from the place. But meanwhile try to read the story of Sabarimalai for it can give you some background material. I have forgotten the story as believed by the Hindus except that it relates to the child of a Rajah who died in tragic conditions.

    Bottom line, there did happen in Nilackal (and Sabarimala) something interesting we do not know of.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi,
      I hope i have some info which may be of help.

      I belong to one among the many branches of the parent ‘Valiyaveettil family’ of Kanjirapally, who were the first Christian settlers of the region. The farthest ancestor our family can trace to is one ‘Thommi’ who migrated to Kanjirapally from Nilackal (Chayal) sometime in the early or mid 14nth century. His descendent of the 4rth or 5th generation from him built the “Pazhayapally” or the Old church of the Syrian Christians of Kanjirapally which was consecrated in the year 1449 AD. I’m of the 22nd Generation from “Thommi”, and we still maintain a clear line of genealogy starting from Thommi (Not just my family, but almost all other families that branched out from the Parent “Valiyaveettil” family of Kanjirapally – and this make up almost half of all the Syrian Christian families of Kanjirapally!!). There is also another ancient family with the same name “Valiyaveettil” that branched out from our main family in the late 1300s/early 1400s and settled in Aruvithura (Erattupettah) and subsequently merging with the ancient body of Nasranis there.
      The Aruvithura Church is widely accepted as one of the oldest Churches in Kerala, built in the 4rth century AD. It is also known as the parent mother churches of almost all the ancient Syrian churches of Eastern Kottayam district, such as of Palai, Poonjar, Bharananganam, Cherpumkal and Kindangoor. Certain extant documents which the church maintains and the ancient traditions surrounding the church, clearly point to the Aruvithura Church being a daughter congregation of the ‘Chayal Church”, that branched out from it at some point of history. (Note that Chayal church is traditionally identified as the Nilackal Church). Now, going by a popular hypothetical view that the 3rd/4rth century dates traditionally attributed to most of the inland churches in Kerala are possibly from the Malayalam era (Kollavarsham – AD 825), the Church would have been built somewhere in the 12lth century. Now this makes a lot of sense , as it must be understood that there was a mass migration of people from Madurai and other places in Tamil Nadu, under the leadership of a runaway Pandyan Prince, who later established his Kingdom in Aruvithura-Poonjar region, which, in the course of time came to called the “Poonjar Kingdom”. There are extant records and documents under the custody of the ‘Poonjar Royal family’ that substantiate this theory. Since the Nasranis were expert tradesmen who were often supported and encouraged by Kings and local rulers, the King would have brought a large group of them along with him, as he expected trade and commerce in his ‘newly set up Kingdom’ to flourish under the community. After all, Aruvithura was the commercial capital of the Kingdom of Poonjar for centuries! To add, it must be noted that there are absolutely no convincing evidences supporting the existence of the Aruvithura church prior to the 11nth/12lth century.

      Now concerning the ‘Madurai/Tamil Nadu’ origin of the Syrian Christians who are of the Chayal/Nilackal heritage – It must be understood that the place “Nilackal” was never associated with “Chayal” probably until the beginning of the 20th century. Only the name “Chayal” was known to the Nasranis as one of the seven places where Saint Thomas established a congregation in the 1st century. (This was known through the 17nth/18nth century Ramban Pattu etc). Note that Nilackal is strangely the only ‘inland’ place (rather inland church) among the 7 places where Saint Thomas is believed to have visited and set up congregations, as every other place (Niranom, Kokkamangalom, Palayalur, Kollam, Paravoor and Kodungalloor) are either on the coast or very near to the coast. The assumed ‘recesses of Nilackal’, in the deep highland forests of the Western ghats could never be a place of civilized human settlement in the early centuries, as it was thoroughly isolated from the civilized world of those days, and that it was in the middle of dark jungles where savage beasts like panthers, tigers, wolves, elephants and many other animals wandered day and night. Also Nilackal never had an alternative name like ‘Chayal’. Chayal was the obvious name for another port town in the eastern coast of Southern India, called ‘Kayalpattinam’ (Kayal, which is also spelt as Chayal, is a short name for Kayalpattinam which is a port town close to the present day Thoothukudy in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu). Chayal, was the chief port of the Pandyan empire on the Eastern coast, along with Quilon (Kollam) on the western coast. These two ports experienced heavy influx of Foreign traders and migrants, chiefly from the Middle east and West Asia who later settled in these places.The historic Manigramam and Anjuvannam merchant guilds in these places were proofs for that. Both Kollam and Chayal still have a large Muslim population of Arab/Middle eastern origins, who are clearly the descendants of foreign settlers.
      It is interesting to note that Marco Polo visited the port town of Chayal in the 13nth century, and has mentioned in his travelogue that he had visited a group of Nestorian Christian (Nasranis) settlers in Chayal, and that he had seen the church where body of Saint Thomas rests. This reinforces the hypothesis that there were Syrian Christians in Chayal in the early centuries. Now, how did these Christians disappear from the eastern coast? There’s absolutely no trace of any Syrian Christian community in the region even up to this day. This would lead us to conclude that the ancient Nasranis of Chayal migrated out of the place. Now, to where they migrated does not remain as an unsolved mystery – They moved westwards through Madurai, and crossed over to the present day Kerala via the mountain passes of Nilackal, and then spread further West to the foothills and midlands like Aruvithura, Poonjar, Kanjirapally, Palai, Bharanganam, Ayroor, Malapally, Kadampanad, Thumpamon, Puthupally and Niranom. (Note that most of the early Syrian Christian settlers of all these places trace their ancestry to the “Nilackal” Syrian Christians). Would this hypothesis not explain the reason for the cultural homogeneity of the Syrian Christians of Central Travancore, irrespective of their present denominations? (I mean, the cuisine, language etc and of course the term “Achayan” which the Central Travancore Syrian Christians alone use!)

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  11. Nilakkal was on the trade route between the Eastern and Western Coast, particularly connecting the ports of Kollam and the Pandyan port of Kayalpattinam or Kayal. The probability that one of the seven early churches existed at Kayal (Chayal) or Kayalpattinam has been overlooked by historians. When the Pandyan kingdom later split up, many chieftains established their own small kingdoms. Thus the Rajah of Poonjar was a direct descendant of the Pandyan line of kings. The Christians on the East Coast, were in all probability driven westward with the influx of Muslims on the east coast.
    Marco Polo who visited Kayal and the Mabar Kingdom on the Coromandel coast in the 13th century has recorded the existence of the tomb of St. Thomas in the Mabar kingdom (Coromandel Coast) venerated by both Christians and Moslems. There are historical records to indicate that the body of St.Thomas was actually taken to Edessa in the 3rd century and from Edessa to Cortona in Italy, that the tomb of St. Thomas on the East Coast may have had only some relics of the body. It was only when the Portuguese came and settled in Mylapore that they fixed Mylapore as the place of burial of St. Thomas.

    The Christians who settled in Nilakkal later migrated to Kanjirappally, Poonjar and nearby places including Pala, Erattupettai, Aruvithura, Ranni, etc.
    -Joseph Ponnoly

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  12. I am recording below extracts from the website of P.E.Easo, who has written about Nilakkal and its history:
    ===
    …..

    Nilackal Church founded by St Thomas is situated on the side of the pond opposite to the present Nilackal Ambalam as per the tradition of St Thomas Christians. This Church is also referred to as ARA- PALLY. The present day Christians believe that ARA PALLY is half-completed church. This however does not satisfy any body searching for logical meaning. After a long search the meaning for ARA in Tamil language before Malayalam came to existence is traced out to mean important or head quarter. Suffixes like ARA- MENA still exist in [C]hristian usage. This means Head Quarter or important House. One can therefore believe that ARA PALLY in fact was the head Quarters of Syrian Christians. To support this conclusion there is a place close to Nilackal known as Thalapally, which means the head Church. This place is also called Plapally, which does not convey any meaning in Malayalam or Tamil.

    The readers may note that the Kerala Government allowed to construct the St. Thomas Church at the present site near Nilackal is far away from the traditional site believed to be across the Nilackal Pond. As Christians, one has been contented with what we have today than to have nothing. The present Church is on the side of Thever- mala. Thever and Devar were used in old Tamil to refer to respected people. These names fortunately have not changed from olden times.

    We see on the top of these hills remnants of old houses, wells, pounding stones, tombs etc definitely to say that those were sites where people used to stay. Excavation in this and surrounding areas would definitely reveal the history of the lost tradition of the population particularly the Nilackal Christians who had migrated from this area to Kanjirapally, Thumpamon, Ayroor, Niranam and surrounding areas. To maintain the traditional unity of the Church and the Temples close to each other, as in the past, let us hope that the future generations would establish a Church on the very same site where it existed from St Thomas time.

    Christians in Kerala know that two Bishops by name Sabor Easow and Porth along with many families migrated to Kollam in AD 822. They ruled over Syrian Christians by keeping their Head Quarters at Kollam (Mar Sabor Easow) and Kodungalloor (Mar Porth). In the year 880AD Mar Sabor Easow and the Christians in Kollam were given two separate Copper Plate Cheppeds known as Tharisapally Chepeds.These are one of the oldest records of the Syrian Christians in Kerala now available on record.

    Sabor Easow had an Ahram in Nilackal known as CHAYAL-AHRAM. This word in Hebrew means people who stay alone. The Jews even today use it to refer to soldiers who stay apart from families. Towards the end of his life Mar Sabor spent most of his time in meditation in this Ashram. He was buried in this Ahram. Being a saintly person he was respected and loved by all Christians. After his death people particularly Christians used to go on pilgrimage to his tomb to pay homage. The Nilackal Christians who had migrated from this area cannot forget the founder of this Ahram and its location, Chayal.

    The past history of this place is obscured for want of records. Fortunately, we have many families who had migrated to various places in central Kerala who have lot of traditions recorded in their family histories. Some of the facts known to me through these records are reproduced below. Three powerful Kingdoms in South India known as CHERA, CHOLA, and PADIYA ruled the present Kerala and Tamil Nadu. There were also some traditional important Kingdoms like VERL, CHITTARACHAR, within the Chera Kingdoms. The area comprising Bay of Bengal on the East, Gokarnam on the North (now in Karnataka), Sri Lanka on the South was known as Thamizhakam.

    A kingdom was known as Konkanam ruled by North of Chera Nadu. Their Head Quarter was Ezhamalai (7 hills). Nandan, Konkanam was a famous King described in Tamil writings. From Nagarkovil in South to Sahiyadri in East and Thiruvella in North was ruled by a Kingdom known as AYI (Recorded by Tolomy as Aioi in his writings). Tolomy as BARIS, flowing in the East West direction with Thiruvalla on the North side, records river Pampa. The Nilackal hills, Sabarimala and planes of Pampa were connected to Pandi by well-established trade routes. These places were connected to Muzris port via Sea and Kayal. Nilackal was a centre for spices and timber. The Vel kings ruled the Ayi Kingdom with their Head Quarter at Kollam (Quilon). This Kingdom in later years was called VELNADU or VENADU. When St Thomas visited Nilackal, this Kingdom ruled this area. The Copper- Plate- Chepped given to Sabor Easow was witnessed by One VEL prabhu. The places from Thiruvalla to Gokarnam were directly under the Chera King. These places were known as Kottanad, Kudanad and Puzhinad. (Up to Trichur only).

    The teachings of St Thomas Christians are mentioned in one of the oldest Tamil Book, Thirukural. The CHERA- CHOLA war of 100 years starting from AD 985 up to1085 was the end of Chera Rule. Mostly all the male population in the country was killed in this war. The last Chera king, Cheraman Perumal escaped to the Persian country by sea. He died there and was buried at a place near Muscat. His tomb still exists near this place.

    The Temple Authorities and Poojaries declaring them, as owners of the land and properties became Rulers after the Chera rule ended. The Chera Kingdom was without any body to protect from external aggression. It was during this period that the Pandian Kings from Madurai attacked plundering of Temples, Churches, and Houses in the High Ranges of Kerala. Popular among those groups were Para-pattam and Vikram-puli-thevar.They were nicknamed, Perumpatta and Vakrapuli by our elders.

    After the Pandy kings conquered the high ranges, two of their representatives from Pandy were sent to Rule this area. They are today known as Pandalathu Thampuran and Poonjattil Thampuran respectively. They came to Kerala when Udayamarthandavarma from AD1175 to AD 1195 were ruled in Kerala. (Vellayani Sassanam and alsoSarvaVinjyani -kosam are evidences). The Kovilanmar, who were till that time representatives of Chera kings, did not accept the authority of these representatives. They were mainly Malamkovil in Karimalakotta in Sabarimala, Thalaparakotta, and Ingiparakotta, all these areas are now forest .To suppress the Malakovilakam people, the Pandalam Thampuran sent two soldiers brought from Pandy. They were two brothers by name CHAKKI and Vikkiran. They were offered half the kingdom if they could suppress the Kovilakam people. This they achieved. Ranny was given to them as promised. The Pandalathuthampuran also gave the title Sakthivikramar. This family ruled this area till India became independent. The history of Iy-appa is linked to the Pandalathu-thampuran i.e. in the 12th century where as that of St Thomas Christians in Nilackal from St Thomas time from 53 AD.
    (Syrian [C]hristian Tradition published by Mr. P.E. Easo)
    ====
    Demolition of Nilackel [C]hurches

    The Chera- Chola war of 100 years towards the end of 12th century, followed by plundering of houses, Temples and Churches by Para -Pattam and Vikram- Puli- Thevar culminating in the greatest ever flood known in the history of Kerala in 1341 AD were the reasons for the migration of people from Nilackal.

    This source is from the book on Syrian [C]hristian Tradition published by Mr. P.E. Easo in March 2000. . Destruction of Nilackal is referred to on pages 21,22,23,25.

    After the end of Chera Chola war of 100 years in 1100AD the Pandalathu Thampuran and Punjattil Thampuran were sent to this place to rule over the High Ranges of Kerala by the Pandian kings to look after their booty in Vel-nad i.e. Kerala. Sri Iyappa is connected to the legendary story of Pandalam Raja.

    Sabor Easow, the Bishop who got the copper plate chepped from the Chera king in 840 AD had estalished his Ashram in Nilackal.This Ashram is known, as Chayal.This is a Hebrew word meaning people who stay alone. Sabor Easo was buried near this Ashram. The hill where he was buried is known as Sabor Mala that is the present Sabarimala.

    People from all over Kerala used to go on pilgrimage to his tomb till Nilackal and the war and subsequent looting by the Madurai kings known as Pandiyans destroyed other high range area. Majority of the male population of Nairs and Christians were killed in fighting the war of 100 years.

    Who will build up this unique tradition of Nazrani Christians? Don’t we have a history before Malayalam came in to existence prior to the Kollam Era or Malayalam era? If so what are the evidences. There are so many such questions. The traditions of Nilackal Christians are lost in the foothills of Nilackal. Can we not even today collect some evidences? But how can we bring it out. Is Nilackal the only church in that area which had existed there till 1341 AD? . The copper plate Cheppeds of Sabor Easo in 840 AD is still available even today for verification. These happened centuries before the Pandalam Raja was installed here. The Nilackal Christians cannot forget MarSabor Easo .Let us make a record of what we have today.

    ===
    (Courtesy: PE Easo)

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  13. Dear Joseph Ponnoly,

    Thanks for our efforts. I understand that there are many who are dedicated Nasranis. Who is this Mr. P.E. Easow. A few words about him can get an image of him in our minds.

    Admin, please read in that we request you to arrange to write up a nice fat article about ‘Nilackal’. In all our discussions about the Nasranis, we gave this place very little importance. Is this the case of the cast aside stone being turned into the ‘corner stone’?

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  14. P.E. Easo of Alackal Family, Ranni has written a book on Syrian Christians.
    A copy or extracts from the book are available from his website (link given below).
    More information on Easo and the Alackal family is also avaiable on this website.
    The link is:
    http://alackal.com/SyrianChristians.html

    Adding to what you have written, I feel very little attention has been drawn to the Syrian Christian church in Kollam in ancient times. There are a number of historical references ot the Syrian Christians of Kollam. Some references are given on the wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/kollam

    -Joseph Ponnoly

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  15. Dear All,

    Nasrani history and the traditions of St. Thomas’s missionary efforts can surely be read in many History books today and folklores and oral traditions. But what is to be understood is much of the early traditions have been distorted to a large extent and transliterated and misinterpreted in local context and by vested groups. There are many traditions today totally different from what actually took place. There are many examples of such examples of distortion. The most famous example is the Palayoor pond miracle which is interpreted in terms of Namboothiris been converted by a miracle of water thrown up in the air. Is this narrative true or is the truth different ? I shall be presenting details on the same soon.

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  16. I don’t know if this is already discussed, still am asking few questions I have in mind. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

    1 Are the Nilackal cross a replica of Mar Thoma Cross ?
    2 We hear Manichianism ? Is there any records or proofs for existence of Manichianism in Kerala ? On what basis some conclude that Manichians are also part of the community ? Did Mani the founder of Manichianism came to Kerala ?
    3 I have seen some people saying Mar Thoma Cross is Manichian in orgin but have never heard any supporting argument for the same. Is it just a googly with out any basis ?

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  17. Dear Cheriyan

    Nilackal cross a replica of Mar Thoma Cross – There was an ancient cross found from Nilakkal. A part of which i heard is now at Kuvappalli ( ?) , came from the ruined Christian settlement of Nilakkal. It seems to have had an inscription in Roman or Greek capitals, but that it is so illegible that one can only guess.

    The other portion of this cross left at Nilakkal was not found by Fr. Hosten when he visited the site again in 1924. I dont know more information about Nilakkal cross. If i am not mistaken it seems to be another Mar Thoma cross .

    Manichaeism – There are no credible claims that Mani came to India. Kerala history talks about Manika Vachakar a hindu reviver. Based on my understanding, some people has confused the Manichiean Mani with him . I suggest you to read the chapter on “Did a Disciple of Manes go to India ?’ in the book “India and the Apostle Thomas – an enquiry with a critical analysis of Acta Thoma” by A E Medlycott . ( Its available free on Internet)

    Mar Thoma Cross is Manichiean in orgin – Thats most definitely a googly. This has been studied by a number of Scholars and they have ruled out any possibilities.

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  18. Dear John

    1.Pahlavi use in Church of East

    In AD 420 – Second General Synod of the Persian Church (Synod of Yaballaha I) Ma’na, a student at the School of Edessa, translates Syriac works into Pahlavi (Middle Persian)

    c. 670 Canons of Shimun (Simon), Metropolitan of Rewardashir, written in Pahlavi and later translated into Syriac ( We have documents in which Metropolitan of Rewardashir talking about sending prelates to Malabar)

    There are more. Please refer the following link, which is interesting and a clear reflection of how the history of Church of East and Kerala Churches mutually corroborates with each other.

    DATES RELEVANT TO THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF THE EAST

    http://www.oxuscom.com/COTE_Timeline.pdf

    2 Pahlavi use in Jacobites

    There are evidences of Pahlavi and Estrangela Syriac usage in Jacobite church in some manuscripts of 7th century.

    What is interesting in Manichianism, most of the iconography are designed by Mani himself according to few scholars. The script used is called Manichaean script and which is a sibling of an early form of Pahlavi script and my understanding is it doesnot have any connection with the scripts we have in Mar Thoma cross.

    Read this about Symbolism- http://www.thenazrani.org/cross.htm
    I dont want to get in to Symbolism as there are few books written on the same which i have not read.

    Allegations against Mar Thoma Cross

    The allegation of Mar Thoma cross is Manichain in origin is mostly “3” decades old.
    It was started by some priests of Ernakulam ( fondly called trade union priests) .

    Most of the time People who makes statements linking St.Thomas cross with Manichaeism are those who deosnot know both in detail. This statement is from my experiance. Try it on your own. Ask these people to name atleast three Bishops who came to Malabar before Portuguese. You will not get answer even from priests. Manichaeism has its own symbols and some of it has been recovered from few places in Central Asia (Turfan Collection in Berlin etc ).

    The allegation was mainly done in the last few decades for an entirely different objective.

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  19. Dear BG

    I have explained few points in the article and am not repeating the same. My intention was to keep it simple giving emphasis to credible things than to grapewine.

    The translation given by Dr. Burnell is generally admitted to be the best. It is clear from it that the One who suffered punishment by the cross ‘is the true Christ and God above,’

    i.e., He had the true human nature and the Divine, and was, therefore, at the time of the crucifixion, both man and God.

    Which is generally the opposite view for accusal of heresies.

    Secondly the spread of Manichaeism was mainly through land routes. Manichaeism maintained a sporadic and intermittent existence mainly in Mesopotamia, Africa, Spain, France, North Italy, the Balkans for a thousand years. There are not even a single vestige of Manichean excavated from Malabar.

    Two crosses are in the Valiyapalli Church at Kottayam. ( This is the only Southist Church which was constructed lately.). There are no records on how it came to the possession of Southists.

    All the other churches are Northist churches. In February 1928, a fourth mar Thomas cross was found at Kadamattam. In 1921; another one found at Muttuchira, The Muttuchira cross also has the same double line of Pahlavi. Both lines being very badly damaged.

    There was another similar one found from Nilakkal.

    In a lithic inscription, in Holy Ghost Church at Muttuchira , of 1528, the names of Mar Tana & Mar Avu together with that of Persian (Friar) George is mentioned about setting up a holy cross there. Mar Tana seems to be Mar Denha. ((The Syrian Church of Malabar, Fr. Placid)). We have records for Three Chaldean prelates, Mar Jaballaha, Mar Denaha and Mar Jacob Abuna in Malabar around the period 1503-1550.

    Some Aramaic texts on ‘magic bowls’ found in Mesopotamia are written in a script very close to the Manichean script (Montgomery, 1912; Segal, 2000). This has nothing to do with what’s there in Kerala. Why Mani or his followers chose to use the Manichean script for their religious texts in a state that already had various script traditions is hard to establish even for Scholars. Interestingly they have used other scripts than Manichean scripts and the same use with others also can not be ruled out. Manichain or Manes was a heretic than a linguistic expert.

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  20. Thanks for the well clarification. How did we loss Nilackal cross ? An article on Nilackal is much appreciated.

    When did Mar Jaballaha, Mar Denaha and Mar Jacob Abuna came in Malabar. Did they live in Muttuchira. I dont know about earlier bishops.

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  21. Dear Cheriayn

    I hope you read the posts of Joseph Ponnonly about Kollam and Nilackal. We will try to get it as an article. These prelates were in Kerala during the period 1503-1550. I am planning an article on Early Prelates and we can start collecting the informations every one is aware.

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  22. Dear All

    I heard a Mar Thomas cross was discovered from Goa few years back .
    Does anyone has more information ?

    Thanks

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  23. It is really interesting and very solid research behind your Research Paper.

    Why did the Stamp by Indian Government left out the arch above the Cross?

    Have we found these Thomas Cross anywhere else in the World and Details pleased

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  24. Propriya,it is good because it make a change in the Holly Mass…

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  25. The interpretation of the inscriptions in Pahalavi by Dr. Burnnel (former Archaeological Director of India) reads as follows-

    “In punishment by the cross (was) the suffering on this one; He who is true God and God above, and Guide ever Pure.”
    These inscriptions are against the basic faith of Nestorians, who believed that the God was never crucified (punished) in the Cross and only the Jesus the man was crucified

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  26. The small slab 75 cm. x 58 cm. is fixed on the northern altar and is more ancient while the big slab 220 cm. x 103 cm. is set up on the southern altar of this church. The inscriptions in Pahalavi are one and the same on both the slabs except for the additional inscription in Syriac (in Estrangelo script) on the big slab placed on the southern altar. Many scholars and researchers have visited this church and tried to decipher these inscriptions in Pahalavi. The interpretation of Dr. Burnnel (former Archaeological Director of India) is regarded as most acceptable. It reads as follows:

    “In punishment by the cross (was) the suffering on this one; He who is true God and God above, and Guide ever Pure.”

    The Syriac inscription on the big slab is from the Epistle to the Galatians 6:14 which reads: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The cross on the Southern Altar resembles the one at St. Thomas Mount, Mylapore, Madras.There are rare antique carvings and mural paintings behind the main altar and on the ceiling.

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  27. RE: post 10379:

    Jogy writes regarding the inscription on the Persian Cross: “These inscriptions are against the basic faith of Nestorians, who believed that the God was never crucified (punished) in the Cross and only the Jesus the man was crucified”.

    No so fast.

    1. Let’s hear what an actual “Nestorian” scholar (i.e., a member of the East Syriac Church of the East) has to say about this. Jogy’s statement (which is not his, but a copy of another author—a Jacobite apologist—whose work I’ve seen on the Web) is far from authoritative—it is just the statement of a pro-West Syriac Christian on the faith of the East Syriac Church. But is it correct? Is that translation of the Persian Cross inscription actually controversial to the East Syriac Church? I doubt it… after all, Bar Hebraeus, a West Syriac scholar (perhaps the greatest scholar the Syriac world ever had) and a Jacobite, had no qualms with the faith of the East Syriac Church but dismissed the differences between the Nestorians and the Jacobites (and the Chalcedonians too) to be trivial.

    2. I know Burnell’s translations are the most accepted, and that Burnell was a quality scholar. But this is Pahlavi we’re talking about — a very difficult language to translate. I don’t think one can take Jogy’s statement as the most authoritative dismissal of the East Syriac claim to the Persian Crosses — especially since the crosses have similar structure and form to those in China, which are definitely East Syriac (Nestorian).

    So … nice try Jogy. You dug up a (poorly written) article on the internet written by a Kerala Jacobite Church apologist, and are present those myths on this site.

    Note: the same author also writes that Pahlavi was a Jacobite language. Utter nonsense; you can see Admin’s comments on NSC on this matter.

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  28. Mr. john mathew.

    what i have cited is from other site. but you couldnt answer this rather that beating around the bush. your are seen pre occupied as u rejects simply by saying these are the statements of a pro jacobite.

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  29. Mr. John mathew.
    can u prove that these persian crosses were used only by the east syriac and not by the west syriac?
    i suppose that these crosses are actually the cross of assyrians…all churches in the middle east might have used the same. you cant brand it a nestorian cross . since ur views are pro east syriac u are blind on this.

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  30. Are there any more interpretations from the inscriptions ?

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  31. Great news John Mathew. More details on how did it reach Goa and details are greatly appreciated .

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  32. Dear John,

    Wonderful ! You are a genius ! How did you manage to find this page ?
    Thank you for sharing the information.
    This cross looks similar to the one in mylappore.
    Has someone done any research about the date of it ? Or is it a simple replica of the St Thomas mount cross ?

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  33. Another comment:

    If anyone out there is good with languages, and (perhaps) already knows Syriac, perhaps you want to learn Pahlavi, whose connection with our people seems even older than East or West Syriac (i.e., there are Pahlavi inscriptions in Malabar that pre-date the oldest Syriac ones).

    If so, my favorite site, http://www.archive.org, has a book on how to learn Pahlavi. So grab a copy, and perhaps you too can read one of the old Pahlavi inscriptions on:
    -the Persian crosses
    -the Thevalakkara/Tharisapalli cheppads
    -Kadamattom Church
    -Kadeesha Church in Kallada
    -other Churches in Kerala?

    The latter three have, so far as I’ve seen, escaped the serious attention of scholars.

    Here’s a deal: if you can learn Pahlavi, I’ll go myself and get you the highest quality pics of the latter three inscriptions…

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  34. John, Thats a great pic of the Goan Pahlavi cross. Are there any pics of the Persian crosses in Sri Lanka found in Anuradhapura, Kotte and Gintumpitya. Of interesting note I found that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka has the cross on their flag based on “The “Cross of St. Thomas” engraved on a granite slab was found among the 5th century archaeological ruins in the city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, evidence of the existence of a Christian community on the island during that period”

    http://www.fotw.net/flags/lk-cbc.html

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  35. Dear Luke,

    There’s a book, Nestorian Missionary Enterprise, which details how the Nestorians (so-called) had a presence in India that went far beyond Malabar (Patna, Goa, Bombay, Gujarat, and even Benares, I think). It’s an old book so you might find a digitized copy online.

    The website of the Indian Orthodox Church has some info on this as well; perhaps you might find their references on the site.

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  36. Alphy,

    I’ve been trying to dig up a book I once found on Google Books, but at the time foolishly did not download a copy.

    It was on Christianity in Ceylon, and I believe it had a picture either of the ruins or of the cross.

    I’ll provide a link once I recover the source.

    Also: any details on the cross in the Anglican Cathedral at Lahore, Pakistan?

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  37. RE: Anuradhapura

    Okay my friends, here’s one pic of the Ceylon Persian Cross.

    Anuradhapura Cross

    (Admin, perhaps we should ask for this pic too, to keep on NSC for completeness).

    Alright then: now let’s go and find the one at Lahore…

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  38. Has any of these Persian crosses been excavated from middle east/babylonia ? The lotus, peacock etc points towards an Indian origin.
    Even when we can find some similarities, the so called Nestorian Crosses found in China and the Pahlavi St. Thomas crosses are different.The Indian-Ceylon crosses have the dove on the top, steps o the bottom and the lotus is two dimensional where as in the crosses from China, there is no dove, no steps on the bottom and the lotus is three dimensional.

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  39. Dear Antony:

    It would be good to check out a book on Persian/Babylonian Christian art to see what motifs they used … By the way, is the Lotus only an Indian plant? Don’t the Egyptians, Chinese, etc. have a variety? Do the Persians have one?

    I would be happy to learn of an Indian origin for the so-called Persian Crosses; however, the presence of Pahlavi inscriptions kind of hurts that cause.

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  40. Dear John Mathew

    Many thanks for the inputs and sharing the pictures. That was motivating and I have revised the article included the picture ( Goan Cross, asked for permission for Ceylon Cross). I have also added more information about the cross discovered from Goa ( which has a Pahlavi and Portuguese inscription ) , the new interpretations from Gerd Gropp, arguments heard during the Controversy, references from Jornada and references to search for more information.

    Dear M Thomas Antony

    More details about Goan Cross has been seen in, “ St. Thomas Christians and the Indian Ocean AD 52 to AD 1500” by Dr. Pius Malekandathil.

    I was earlier under the impression that Kottayam and Mylapore are the oldest. I learnt from the above that Anirudhapuram is the oldest and Mylapore and Goan might be as oldest as Anirudhapuram cross. The Goan Cross has a Pahlavi inscription written on the stone in the form of an arch. It also has a Portuguese inscription in the foot meaning “ that which belong to St. Thomas, 1642”. Malekandathil writes that when Portuguese got this in 1642, they were aware that cross was venerated. It seems that after the Syond of Diamper, Crucifix replaced these crosses and these were either abandoned or destroyed.

    As far as i know, there are no crosses of this type discovered from middle east. The Pahlavi may only shows the relations we had with Church of Rew Ardashir, which supplied prelates during the time these crosses, were cut or preserved in South India. Please let me know if there are any missing information or areas to research further.

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  41. Dear Admin, (RE: Taxila Cross)

    Regarding the Cross in Sirkap, Pakistan. The only info I’ve been able to dig up is:
    1) it is referred to as the Taxila Cross
    2) it is a tiny cross that marks the entrance of the “Ladies Chappel” found in the Lahore Cathedral Church (Anglican) a.k.a. the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection
    3) More info might be found in Shadows in the Dark, by Fr. John Rooney M.H.M. (Pakistan Christian History Monograph, No.1)

    I don’t have the book, but this is a quote I found online: “There are two further pieces of evidence that might seem to suggest a St Thomas connection with Pakistan, the one epigraphical, the other social. The epigraphical evidence is an interesting cross found at Taxila now lodged in the Anglican cathedral at Lahore, where it is know as the Taxila Cross. The social evidence concerns a fakir community which is said to be connected with Thatta, Sind, and to claims that it has origins in St. Thomas.”

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  42. Dear Admin: (again on the Taxila Cross)

    Apparently the Taxila Cross was adopted by the Church of Pakistan as it’s official symbol.

    Perhaps the logo found at http://www.churchofpakistan.org.pk offers some idea of what the silver Taxila Cross looks like? (Equi-sized arms; dove, on the bottom, though.)

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  43. Dear Admin and others: (again: Taxila Cross)

    Some more info can be found in the article located at:

    dharkan.ca

    It is by Fr. Rooney, referenced earlier.

    It’s a little disappointing though: the Taxila Cross only shares one feature with our Crosses: the equilateral arms.

    It’s funny though … many people are making the equilateral feature into a big issue on how the cross can *not* be Christian, not realizing that Nestorians and other Easterners have used equilateral crosses for a long time.

    Interestingly, though, apparently the Catholic Christians in Pakistan go to King Gondaphoernes palace in Taxila every year to commemorate his meeting St Thomas.

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  44. Dear M.T.Antony & Admin: (RE: Crosses in the Syriac and Other Churches west of India)

    A. http://www.christiansofiraq.com/monastery.html

    Notes:
    1. The equilateral cross motif is present (e.g., search on Tree of Life)
    2. Cross with steps (ditto).
    3. If you search on “Syrian Orthodox Church Cross” you’ll find that the structure of that cross (with two angels kneeling beside it) is similar, if not identical, to our Persian Crosses. Especially the ends of the cross, which is one of our unique features, I believe.

    One question to my Syro-Malabar colleagues: that cross (2) is present in many of the Syriac/Malankara Orthodox prayer books. In fact, it appears with a frequency second only to the standard Nasrani cross. My question: do the Syro-Malabar use this motif (cross+2 angels worshipping)?

    B. http://vdjorbenadze.tripod.com/Kartli/1980DjvariRaisingoftheCross.jpg
    From the Georgian Orthodox Church, which, like the Church of the East, and the Church of Armenia, was subject to Antioch until it became autocephalous.
    Note the interesting base, and the Cross as symbolizing Christ. And the 6th/7th century date.
    (ref: http://vdjorbenadze.tripod.com/Kartli/Kartli.htm)

    C. http://www.soorpkhatchchurch.org/SK%20New/Church%20History/Church_history.html
    The Armenian Cross.
    Note the floral base, and symmetrical arms

    I think we might be able to use this info to date our Nasrani Crosses, and link it to a broader eastern tradition of symbolic crosses. I guess the Lotus might signify some Indian adaptation, though I still think the Lotus is a general Oriental motif that the Persian and Chinese also used.

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  45. RE: Other similar crosses to our Nasrani Cross

    I think our cross is a local adaptation of a general ancient Christian type of symbolism. Here are some other examples of other local crosses. I think calling it a Nasrani Cross is very accurate now (i.e., local adaptation of a motif, probably brought from the Persian Empire); by the same token, it is most definitely *NOT* a menorah, and unless we can find definitive info that the Nasrani cross was ever called a menorah or used as such, it seems to be a gross distortion of the facts to suggest it is a menorah—just as it is a gross distortion to suggest these Crosses are in any way, shape or form Manichaean.

    Okay, here’s the good stuff, for your consideration:

    1. West and East Syriac motifs
    http://www.christiansofiraq.com/monastery.html
    see:
    a. http://www.christiansofiraq.com/crossoflife.jpg
    (note the buds on the ends of the cross arms)
    b. http://www.christiansofiraq.com/tree.jpg
    (note the base)

    2. Geogian Orthodox
    http://vdjorbenadze.tripod.com/Kartli/Kartli.htm
    see: http://vdjorbenadze.tripod.com/Kartli/1980DjvariRaisingoftheCross.jpg
    (note the base, and the interpretation of the cross as symbolizing Christ)

    3. Armenian Orthodox
    http://stjamesevanston.googlepages.com/
    see: http://stjamesevanston.googlepages.com/cross.JPG/cross-full.jpg
    (note the floral base)

    4. Ravenna, Italy
    http://www.pathikulangara.in/For%20consideraton.htm
    see: http://www.pathikulangara.in/images/For%20co8.jpg
    (note the base & dove. To me, at least, this is most striking in its similarity. Can anyone obtain a better picture of this?)

    Could this terminology, “Nasrani Menorah”, just be a result of creative writing to backfill our history? It seems to me that someone with an overactive imagination took some cues from Asahel Grant (with his bogus Nestorian-as-the-lost-tribes myth), Claudius Buchanan (Nasranis as primitive Christians), and general modern Nasrani nonsense (e.g., the myth that Diamper was quashing Judeo-Christianity, as opposed to the documented fact that it was suppressing perceived Nestorianism) to construct a backstory about our artifact. Enough revisionism!

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  46. Dear M. Thomas Antony & Admin:

    RE: Middle Eastern Crosses & similarity to ours.

    Armenian decorated crosses (as mentioned on NSC) and the crosses of the Georgians both have some form of flower, vine, etc. at the base. A cross in Ravenna, Italy looks very similar to ours: dove at the top, floral base.

    This Syriac Orthodox icon of St. John the Baptist:
    http://www.bethsuryoyo.com/images/GalleryPics/SyriacSaints/SaPic10.html
    has a similar cross-on-plant motif
    as does:
    http://www.bethsuryoyo.com/images/GalleryPics/SyriacIcons/IcSyriac19.html

    http://www.bethsuryoyo.com/images/GalleryPics/SyriacIcons/IcSyriac3.html
    shows two birds (what kind?) facing each other — a similar motif to our facing peacocks.
    again:
    http://www.bethsuryoyo.com/images/GalleryPics/SyriacIcons/IcSyriac2.html

    On the christiansofiraq site, you can find many examples of Syriac decorative Christian art (I believe the “monasteries” link is the one to see). In particular, the flower-bud cross arm ends are, to my eye, identical to our Nasrani/Persian cross.

    I don’t know about the lotus though. That may be an Indo-Chinese adaptation, or it could be something more, as the lotus plant is, based on my quick search of the web, apparently found in West Asia.

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  47. Dear Antony: RE: 11758

    If you look through Syriac art (e.g., do a search for Rabbula in Google Images, and look around — I tried posting links 3 times, but NSC didn’t seem to take the message, so I’m making this link post free), you’ll see some familiar motifs: two birds facing each other, floral patterns, etc. If you look at some monasteries in Iraq (christiansofiraq . com), you’ll see crosses with rose bud endings—just like ours.

    Of course, the Armenian Crosses are very similar to ours, as are the crosses of the Geogian Orthodox tradition—interesting, since those two churches as well as the Church of the East were, in ancient times, under the Patriarchate of Antioch.

    The cross at Ravenna, Italy (6th century?) has the dove and floral base.

    I’m not sure how much of our cross design is “Indian”, given that the lotus is a plant present in the middle east (Persia, Egypt), China and India. The rosebud cross endings seem quite Syrian.

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  48. RE: Peacocks as a sign of Indianness

    I’m now not so sure that those peacocks we see in Indian Christian art (at least Indian Nasrani Christian art) are necessarily signs of Indian input.

    For why, check out this picture of St. Mary from the Rabbula Gospels (5/6th century Syriac Illuminated Gospel):
    http://www.beith-morounoye.org/rabbula-mary.jpg

    Those are peacocks up on top right?

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  49. Dear John,

    I agree with you. Many crosses you have referred to us are very similar to our St Thomas’ Cross, especially one shown in http://www.christiansofiraq.com/crossoflife.jpg. The Italian cross also similar with dove and flower at the bottom. Only difference is the Taxila cross with dove on the bottom. (The taxila cross is similar to Huguenot cross
    http://www.crosscrucifix.com/frenchhueg275414.gif)

    As you have commented, it is really a Syriac Christian cross. It is not a menorah or Manichean.

    You have mentioned the cross with two angels on either side. I have seen that image in old prayer books etc in SMC also. I think that is also an east Syriac connection still kept by West Syriac rite in Kerala. Otherwise, how can we imagine it in SMC who never had any west syriac connections ?( I think I have seen that image in the books for services for the dead and it has to be noted that in SMC, the old syriac chants are still well preserved in the services for the dead, even after latinisation. )

    Again, the rabulla Mary picture is definitely peacock.

    Regarding lotus, it is seen heavily in Hindu culture also. Many of the Hindu deities are pictured standing on a lotus flower. Peacock is also heavily connected to Hinduism. This cultural similarity would have made easier for Syriac Christianity to get a deep root in the region.
    William Darlymple suggests that the early Thomasine Christians became amalgamated into Hinduism as a separate community and later it was the immigrant Persian Christians who revived the Christianity as a separate religion. He even pictures the south Indian Hindu God “Murugan” as St Thomas.
    Again, Sabari mala- the well known Hindu Pilgrim centre is very close to Nilackal and Tamil people call the Deity there as Murugan. (Sorry, I may be stretching my imaginations)
    But, Lotus and Peacock are abundantly seen in South India.

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  50. Dear M. T. Antony:

    0. I wholeheartedly agree: this “Menorah” novelty should really go, as should the Manichaean claim. These are bonafide Christian artifacts.

    1. The Church of Pakistan’s logo has a dove at the bottom, but this is not on the Taxila Cross as far as I know. The Taxila Cross is just the equilateral cross; the dove is an addition by the CoPak.

    2. That’s interesting about the cross w/ two angels being in the SMC. It must be a general Syriac motif then, since it is very prominent in Syriac Orthodox Churches and Monasteries.

    3. FYI: we were once talking about East Syriac iconography. Lately, I’ve been very interested in the Rabbula miniatures, and have learned that *those* are representatives of the old Syriac iconographic tradition. Basically the Syriacs, due to persecutions (Nestorian vs. Jacobite vs. Maronite vs. Melkite vs. Pagans vs. Jews vs. Mongols vs. Muslims) kept their art in books, so that they could pack up and run, without leaving their precious work to be burnt. Thankfully too — the Rabbula art is quite beautiful! Too bad our Mother Churches back in Kerala don’t use those in our Churches … it would be nice to have that tradition resurrected in Kerala (though, I do like the beautiful Catholic artwork that the Puthenkoor has used for the last few centuries too).

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  51. It is interesting to note that the Crosses associated with Mar Sabor and Afroath- the Muttuchira and Kothanalloor-the bottom is not the classical lotus. The floral pattern is directed downwards and we cannot imagine it as a lotus.These may be the original Persian Crosses and the others may be developed with some indian/local inculturation.
    Re taxila cross, in one of the websites, it is mentioned that it is a small medal. The Huguenot cross is also a medal but was evolved later by calvinists which has a dove on the bottom. Is taxilla cross really a calvinist cross ?
    None of the websites show a picture of a Taxila cross. They claim that it is on 2nd century, has anyone done any dating ?

    Re murals- the murals in Cheppad church looks interesting. The pictures are similar to the ones in Champakulam esp the crowning of Mary, but the style is different. I think Champakulam is of Portuguese influence. The present church was assumed to be built in AD 1151 but the madbaha was rebuilt in 1821.There, the murals are very professional looking and with more colours and details compared to Cheppad. We can have a faint look at Indiavideo.org- champakulam church- but the camera man was not concentrating on the murals.
    Is cheppadu pre portuguses as the style is different from champakulam ?Or is it just copying of the portuguese style ? Akapparambu, Kottayam chriapally etc looks similar in style to Cheppadu. How old akapparambu and Kottayam cheriapally ? Kanjoor looks similar to champakulam.(kanjoor, akapparambu and kottayam cheriapalli murals are shown in indiavideo)

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  52. This is of interest especially with regards to the Goan Pahlavi cross. The below are taken from the interview of Rev Dr Hubert O Mascarenhas Ph.D ; DD with the Editor of New Leader (of the Archdiocese of Bombay) which appeared in the Silver Jubilee Souvenir of the Archdiocese of Tellicherry, 1970 reproduced from link http://thenazrani.org/feasts9.htm. Educationist Rev Dr Hubert Olympus Mascarenhas (1905-1973) was an Indologist of repute who spoke 11 European languages, in addition to Sanskrit and several Indian languages.

    “I was actually initiated into the subject by my grandmother who was from Aldona, in Goa. She never missed an opportunity to talk about St Thomas, who was the patron of her village. St Francis Xavier meant everything to me, but very little to her. She was interested in the very Apostle of Christ our Saint and St Francis Xavier too ! There was no difference in earlier times, she used to tell me as a child between those whom we call “Christians” today and the other people of Goa; there existed no odious discrimination in the villages between “Christians” and “Konkanis”. Her own family was known as “Noronha”, which was the Portuguese version of Narayana, i.e. “People of the Lord !”. That went into my head like a nail. It has brought me to the tomb of St Thomas at Mylapore, finally. One of the many “apocryphal” stories I heard from my grandmother was the popular one about the stone-carved, equal-arm CROSS near our house on the hill WITHOUT ANY IMAGE on it which the local villagers used to hide away when the Portuguese soldiers came looking for “heretics”. I used to ask: Why did we hide that Cross ? And she used to tell me: these equal-arm crosses were sacred to the Nazarenes; but the Portuguese used to look upon them as Nestorian symbols. She told me that the many Nazareth surnames in Nasrana Vall (today: Nachnola, near Aldona) were named after our Lord Jesus of Nazareth. This was a deeper nail for my little head. The Portuguese or the Latin Cross with its longer vertical bar was considered in our churches and chapels as the only orthodox symbol. This set me thinking and wondering. I later discovered that no equal arm cross was to be found inside any church in Goa. The only place in which you will find them tolerated are on hills and road-sides, and it would be more amusing for you to know that very many of them have been put up by the Hindus of Goa, especially after the Portuguese republic was declared in 1910. In the churches they could not survive, because of the all-embracing Lusitanization ( Lusitania means Portugal in Latin) and wholesale Latinisation, since 1510, for four hundred years !”

    “I also noticed that the Hindus of Goa celebrated around July 3rd as “Dhukrana” what they consider to be the biggest religious festival of the year, though it was always raining heaviest in June-July, in goa. Now, to any impartial student of these findings, Dhukarana sounds like a distant echo of the Syriac Dhukrana, which means the remembrance of the feast of the martyrdom of St. Thomas. Fortunately now, it is recognized by the universal church that July 3rd is the proper date of the martyrdom of St. Thomas. These people who celebrate the feast and they are regarded as staunch Goan “Hindus” are called Thomse’s which means followers of St Thomas.”

    “There is even a colony, close to Kalyanapuram near Mangalore, of these Thomse’s both Hindu and Christian. They are the people who probably fled from Goa during the early Portuguese centuries (XVI XVII). At Kalyanapuram, there are Christian Thomse’s and Hindu Thomse’s. Of these, the Hindu Thomse’s are regular in going every year on pilgrimage to the Kalyanapuram (at present called Kalapura) in Goa, for their yearly festival. “Kalapura”, you know, means storehouse in Malayalam, or depot for spices (that is Kalapuram in Konkani). Everybody knows also another place called Panola in Goa and Panduripur on the Deccan plateau, both famous for the cult of Vittala (vidu-Alu becomes Vittalu in Kannada as well as in Tamil and means Lord of the house, something parallel to Bethel). The Hindu Thomse’s make a pilgrimage around July 3rd according to the full moon of the Lunar Calendar, not only to Kalyanapura (Kalapura) and Panola in Goa, but a vast number of them now go to Maharashtra, to Panduripur also. It would seem that this pilgrimage, outside Goa gained strength for two reasons: to escape the ravage of fanatics and to keep out of the reach of the Portuguese inquisitors (1560 – 1910).”

    “Among the non-Christians in Goa and Mangalore even today, there are groups which go by the name thomse. What I do mean is that these people who are known as Thomse inspite of their being considered in the census as non-Christians could not have been anything else but Apostolic followers of Jesus of Nazareth, namely Eastern Nazarenes, that is people who are the descendants of those who accepted Christianity from St Thomas himself, in a word “Thomas Christians”.”

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  53. There’s supposedly a Pahlavi cross in Thazhathangadi Valiapalli in Kerala (Knanaya, I believe). Does anyone have a picture of it?

    (By the way, Alphy that’s a really interesting post. Could anyone confirm the use of the term “Dhukrana” by Hindus in Goa? That’s pretty bizarre. But then again, I believe Goa is known to be one of the locations of “Nestorian” Churches in India, along with Patna, Bombay and Kerala.)

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  54. I have written a book in Malayalam on the allegations against Marthoma Sleeva . (Marthoma Sleeva: Apavadangalum Yadharthyangalum ). It was published by Marthoma Vidyanikethan, Changanacherry (HIRS publication) on September 14, 2000. Mar Joseph Perumthottam (present Arch Bishop) was the director of the institution then.

    The main discussion in the book is on the allegation of ‘Manichaen’ connection of the Sleeva, raised by one PK Mathew Ettumanooor, who was supported by ‘Liturgical Action Committee’, Prof. PT Chacko. I think, almost all allegation raised by them against this Sleeva, was discussed, challenged and successfully refuted in the book. After reading the book, even James Issac Kudamaloor, Fr. (late) George Kuzhiparambil (one time main propogators of PK Mathew’ s “thesis” (if it is called so) agreed in their personal letters that they had not any concrete evidence against the Sleeva.

    Any one who wishes to have a copy, please contact,

    The Director,
    Mar Thoma Vidyanikethan,
    Changancherry

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  55. I was wondering if anyone on this site knows where to obtain a Saint Thomas wall cross. There is quite a demand in the Metro Detroit area, but no one knows where to get one aside from an expencive trip back home.

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