Champakulam Kalloorkkadu Marth Maryam Basilica: A Jewel in the Universal Church.
Feb13

Champakulam Kalloorkkadu Marth Maryam Basilica: A Jewel in the Universal Church.

Champakulam Kalloorkkadu Marth Maryam Basilica: A Jewel in the Universal Church. Introduction   The ancient and beatific Kalloorkkadu Marth Maryam Church has been recognised as a Basilica. Champakualm Kalloorkkadu Church is a very ancient and important Syro Malabar church. It is one among the second-generation Mar Thoma Nasrani (Saint Thomas Christian) churches in Kerala. According to local traditions, this church was founded in AD 427 and originated from the Niranam church which was founded by Apostle Thomas himself. It was one among the only 7 Forane Churches in the southern Vicariate of Kottayam in AD 1887 when the Syro Malabar hierarchy was restored.  The Vicariate of Kottayam included the geographical area of today’s Arch eparchy of Changanacherry and parts of the Arch eparchy of Ernakulam-Angamali, the whole area south of river Periyar in Kerala. Today, this area is represented by 7 Syro Malabar Eparchies with Bishops however, the ancient church of Champakulam was neglected as only a Forane Church. Now, this Church has been recognised as a Basilica by the Pope of Rome. This means that this Church has a special relation with the Pope of Rome reflecting the Universality of Catholic Church and acceptance of the Primacy of Rome which the East Syrian Church always held. This new title is a recognition of this ancient Christian community of Champakulam from the Universal Church. Thus, Champakulam Kalloorkkadu Church has a global perspective today. Churches in the East and the influence of Western Christianity Churches in the East, especially the Churches in the East Syriac tradition had been alienated from the rest of the Christendom due to political reasons like the feud between the Roman and the Persian Empires and logistical reasons like geographical inaccessibility. The East Syriac Church took a Nationalistic strategy through the synods in AD 410, 420 and their Metropolitan of the Capital city assumed primacy and called Grand Metropolitan in presence of Western Fathers[i]. In AD 424[ii] the Synod of Markabta declared their Metropolitan of the capital city as a Catholicos.  Later, the Church of the East was wrongly accused of Nestorianism. The so-called Nestorianism seems to be a misunderstanding due to expression of the faith with certain ambiguous terms in Greek. Dr Adrian Fortescue writes ‘we saw that Greek words used in the Nestorian controversy are sometimes ambiguous and add to the confusion by the fact that we are not always sure what the people who use them mean[iii] .’ Adrian Fortescue further comments in ‘Lesser Eastern Churches’ that the so-called Nestorianism of East Syrians was only a vehement denial of the Monophysitism[iv]. We can see later in the Council of Chalcedon, Monophysitism was condemned. The...

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Revival of the Syriac language in worship  from the grass root level : a new model of liturgical reformation in the Syro Malabar Church.
Oct26

Revival of the Syriac language in worship from the grass root level : a new model of liturgical reformation in the Syro Malabar Church.

  Introduction. Kerala, the south Indian state on the Malabar coast of India is known as the cradle of Christianity in  India. Saint Thomas Christians of India are one of the most ancient Christian communities in the world.  The ancient Christianity of Kerala was founded by Saint Thomas the Apostle, who is considered the Father of Syriac Christianity[1]. Along with the Churches of Edessa, Seleucia Ctesiphon and Fars, the Church in India also used Syriac Aramaic as the language of worship. It was in the East Syriac dialect of Syriac Aramaic that the worship and spirituality developed in these regions. Hence, it is called the East Syriac rite. It is highly likely that the early Christianity in India developed in the Syriac rite. The abundance of loan Syriac words in South Indian languages like Tamil and Malayalam, and the lack of local ecclesiastical words in these languages point towards a Syriac origin. The Tamil word for the cross -Siluvai- a corrupted pronunciation of Sliva is the best example. If the origin was in a South Indian language, such ecclesiastical words would have developed in the local languages. There is a lot of evidence to show that traders from Mesopotamia settled in the Malabar coast as early as the 10 century BC[2] and we could assume that the Apostle Thomas came in search of them. Recent excavations in “Pattanam” also support this theory[3]. Western colonial Missionary Enterprise and the Saint Thomas Christians.   In AD 1498, Vasco Da Gama, the Portuguese traveller arrived in Kerala. Following the traders and soldiers, Missionaries also arrived to India. They started with a friendly phase[4] with the local native Christians but later began to subjugate them. The Portuguese Roman Catholic Missionaries used all their might to subjugate the native Syriac Christians and to convert them to Roman Catholicism of the Latin tradition. The Synod of Diamper in AD 1599 gave an accelerated framework  for suppressing the Syriac tradition and promoting latinisations.[5] This caused revolts and divisions. On January 3rd, 1653, almost the entire community of native Saint Thomas Christians took an oath called the Coonan Cross Oath at Mattancherry and declared that they would not have any relation with the Jesuit Roman Catholic Missionaries[6]. This great revolt stunned the Roman Catholic Church. Subsequent interventions by Rome[7] to pacify the situation and certain religio[8] political[9] circumstances lead to the majority of Saint Thomas Christian returning  under the Portuguese Padruado rule. A section of the community evolved into an independent local church which later joined the West Syriac Church of Antioch. Those Saint Thomas Christians who returned under the  Portuguese Padroado rule, however, did not want...

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The Pahlavi inscribed Processional Cross of Herat, Afghanistan and the Pahlavi Crosses of South India: A comparative Study of the Religio Cultural Traditions of the Churches of India and Parthia.
May16

The Pahlavi inscribed Processional Cross of Herat, Afghanistan and the Pahlavi Crosses of South India: A comparative Study of the Religio Cultural Traditions of the Churches of India and Parthia.

The Pahlavi inscribed Processional Cross of Herat, Afghanistan  and the Pahlavi Crosses of South India: A Comparative Study of  Religio Cultural traditions  of  the Churches of India and Parthia Dr. M Thomas Antony and Mathew Mailaparampil Introduction A Pahlavi inscribed  processional cross conceivably dated from  the 8th century AD was found recently from Herat in Afghanistan. This cross has similarities with the Pahlavi inscribed granite Crosses of South India and other crosses of Church of the East (East Syriac Church) in China.   It bears Pahlavi inscriptions which proclaims a theological formula to defend the accusations made by the growing new religion of Islam in the region . This processional cross witnesses the importance of liturgical processions prevalent in the East Syriac tradition. Herat Herat is the third largest city of Afghanistan and is the capital of the province of Herat. It is situated in the valley of river Hari. During the time of Achaemenid Empire 550-330 BC the area was called ‘Haraiva’ in Persian.1 It is situated in Khurasan north west region of modern Afghanistan. Khurasan or Khorasan is a historical region comprising a vast area of north eastern Iran, Southern Turkmenistan and Northern Afghanistan.2 Prior to the Sasanian rule, the region of Khorasan was called Parthia3 and was the homeland of the Parthian Emperors. Khorasan comprises the cities of Balkh and Herat now in Afghanistan, Mashhad and Nisapur now in north eastern Iran, Merv and Nisa now in southern Turkmenistan, and Bukhara and Samarkand now in Uzbekistan.4 Christianity in Herat and Central Asia Christianity penetrated in to central Asia in the very early period itself. Bardaisan in AD 196 commented about Christians in Gilan, the southwest of Caspian and Bactria, the kingdom between Hindukush and Oxus (Amu Darya).5 In AD 549,  the Hephthalites in the Bactria requested Patriarch Mar Aba I to consecrate a Bishop for them and  an anonymous Syriac Chronicle describes Mar Elias, the Metropolitan of Merv converting an entire nomadic population to  Christianity by a miracle in AD 64.6 .Herat was a Metropolitan Province of the Church of the East. It was mentioned as a ‘hyparchy’ in the Synod of the Church of the East in AD 585. Herat had a Bishop since AD 424.7 Synodicum Orientale  mentions that three of the four cities of Khurasan , Herat, Merv and Nisapur (Abrasahr), were represented by Bishops in AD 424 .8  Herat was elevated as a Metropolitan province of the Church  of the East in the Synod of Isho Yahb in  AD 585.9  Synodicum Oriantale mentions a Bishop Yasdoi  in the synod of Dadisho in AD 424, Bishop Gabriel  in Synod of Akak in AD...

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MUTTUCHIRA SLIVA AND LITHIC INSCRIPTIONS- LANDMARK MONUMENTS OF SAINT THOMAS CHRISTIANS OF INDIA.
Nov01

MUTTUCHIRA SLIVA AND LITHIC INSCRIPTIONS- LANDMARK MONUMENTS OF SAINT THOMAS CHRISTIANS OF INDIA.

Author : Dr. M Thomas Antony The ancient Christians of the Malabar Coast of India are known as the Saint Thomas Christians. They are also known locally as ‘The Nasranis’. They were ecclesiastically connected to the Church of the East, also known as the East Syrian Church which at its peak extended from Mesopotamia to China through Arabia, India and Central Asia.. The Eastern Church was separated from the rest of the Christendom from time of  the Synod of Ephesus. This was mainly due to political reasons but  doctrinal differences like ‘Nestorianism’ was also accused on the Eastern Church. The so called ‘Nestorianism’ seems to be a misunderstanding due to the expression of the faith using certain ambiguous terms in the Greek language. Dr Adrian Fortescue writes ‘we saw that Greek words used in the Nestorian controversy are sometimes ambiguous and add to the confusion by the fact that we are not always sure what the people who use them mean .’1 With the works of Babai, the Great of 6th century2 and  the visit of Patriarch Ishoyahb II (628-643 AD) to Antioch in the 7th century3 , the doctrinal differences became  reconciled, but due to geographical and political reasons, the Church of the East continued to be alienated from the rest of the Christendom. Interference with the Christianity of the West With the Crusades in the medieval period, the Churches in the East caught attention of  the Religio political interests of the European Christianity.  Missionaries from the Europe were sent to Babylon and the rest of the East. Their tactic was to begin a friendly relationship with the native Churches and then subjugate them. This resulted in divisions and revolts.  Eventually, in Babylon, the Church of the East( The East Syrian Church) was divided into the Chaldean and Assyrian Churches whereas in Malabar, India, the Church of Saint Thomas Christians divided into several fragments due to the interference of multiple colonial forces. The ancient Church at Muttuchira in South India  portrays certain landmark monuments describing the early friendly phase and the  later subjugation phase of these relationship- the Muttuchira inscriptions and the Muttuchira Sliva. Muttuchira Muttuchira is a village in the Kottayam District located  in the South Indian State of Kerala. Muttuchira was called Nayappalli  in ancient records4 . According to local tradition, the Christian settlement of Muttuchira was established in the sixth century.5 Antonio Gouvea, the Portuguese traveller who accompanied Alexis De Menezes, the Archbishop of Goa, documented  Menezes’ visit of  Muttuchira in AD 1599. Gouvea used the term Nayapili to denote Muttuchira.6 In the British Museum Sloanne MS 9907, probably written in around 1676 AD, mentions...

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Alengad Sliva- The Neglected  Jewel of the  ancient  Christian settlement in Alengad and the most ancient Christian artefact of Malabar.
Feb15

Alengad Sliva- The Neglected Jewel of the ancient Christian settlement in Alengad and the most ancient Christian artefact of Malabar.

Alengad Sliva- The Neglected Jewel of the ancient Christian settlement in Alengad and the most ancient Christian artefact of Malabar.  1.Introduction. Alengad  Sliva1 is an ancient Persian Cross discovered in Kerala in 1931. It is a granite plain bas relief Cross with Pahlavi inscriptions. There are a number of plain Crosses of  similar design with three bud like arrangements at the ends of the arms with a floral design on the base and a descending dove on the top. This family of plain Crosses are called Persian Crosses, on account of the inscriptions in Pahlavi, a middle Persian language. These Crosses denote the strong connection of the Christians of Malabar coast with the Christianity in Persian Empire- the Church of the East and a definite Pahlavi phase of the East Syrian Christianity of Malabar. Alengad is a village in Ernakulam District in the South Indian State of Kerala, 7 km from Aluva and 19 km from Kodungalloor . Saint Mary’s Church at Alengad is an ancient church established in the 14th century AD dedicated to Saint Mary, the Mother of the Lord Isho Misiha.2 In ancient accounts, Alengad was called Mangate.3 Discovery of the Alengad Sliva Alengad Cross was discovered by Rev. Fr. Joseph C  Panjikaren in 1931 found lying on the wayside unrecognised. (20 January 1931) This was thought as a milestone. This Cross was then placed in a wayside shrine near the Church at Alengad. Alangad in the Nasrani History Alengad is the birthplace of Mar Joseph Kariattil who was consecrated as the Archbishop of Kodungallur (Cranganore) in  1783  A D for the Catholics of the Syro Chaldean rite in Malabar but who died in Goa  in dubious circumstances before arriving in his See  in Kerala.4It was in Alengad,  the Archdeacon5 Thomas Parambil was “consecrated” by 12 Cathanaars6 as the Bishop for Saint Thomas Christians -Mar Thoma I,  after the famous Alengad yogam7- the Synod of the Saint Thomas Christians- the Catholics of the Syro Chaldean rite in Malabar. This event, along with the Coonan Cross oath, was a Great revolt against the Portuguese Colonial Missionary enterprise in India, mark a milestone in the history of Saint Thomas Christians of Malabar. (This could be the very first rebellion against the European Colonial powers from native Indians.)  Even though canonically this act was not correct, it showed the great courage and self esteem of the Saint Thomas Christians of Malabar.  In 1598 AD, having no ecclesiastical authority over the Church of Saint Thomas Christians, the Portuguese Archbishop Alexis Dom Menezis of Goa, visited Alengad, as part of his visitation to most of the Saint Thomas Christian Churches in...

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