Divisions and Rite of the Churches- Syro Malabar Church, Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church ,Malankara Orthodox Syriac Church, Thozhiyur Church, Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Syro Malankara Church, Chaldean Syrain Church.

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Divisions and Rite of the Churches- Syro Malabar Church, Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church ,Malankara Orthodox Syriac Church, Thozhiyur Church, Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Syro Malankara Church, Chaldean Syrain Church: The objective of this article is to provide a brief outline about the divisions and to provide some details about the rite of each individual churches. This is a revised article. Please also read the discussion where some of the arguments are better explained.

Saint Thomas Christians Churches

The topics covered are as follows,

I. Church of Saint Thomas Christians until the arrival of Portuguese

II. About the Siant Thomas Christians early Liturgy

III. About the name of the Church

IV. After the arrival of Portuguese in Malabar

V. After the death of the Chaldean Metropolitan Mar Abraham

Syond of Diamper, Changes in Liturgy after the Syond, Coonan Cross Oath

VI. After the Coonan Cross Oath

VII. Succeeding centuries among the Catholics- Syro Malabar Church

VIII. About the Syro Malabar Church in India

Division in Syro Malabar Church, About the Syro Malabar Church name, About the Syro Malabar Church Liturgy,

IX. About Chaldean Syrian Church

About the Chaldean Syrian Church name, About the Chaldean Syrian Church Liturgy

X. Succeeding centuries among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox

XI. About the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church in India

Divisions in Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church, About the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church name, About the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Liturgy

XII. About the Thozhiyur Church (Anjoorians)

About the Thozhiyur Church name, About the Thozhiyur Church Liturgy

XIII. About the Syrian Anglican Church

XIV. About Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church

About the Malankara Mar Thoma Church name, About Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church Liturgy

XV. Split among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox

XVI. About Syro Malankara Church

About the Syro Malankara Church name, About Syro Malankara Church Liturgy

XVII. Summary and Demography

Divisions and Rite of the Churches- Syro Malabar Church, Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church ,Malankara Orthodox Syriac Church, Thozhiyur Church, Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Syro Malankara Church, Chaldean Syrain Church.

I. Church of Saint Thomas Christians until the arrival of Portuguese

The Church of Saint Thomas Christians was hierarchically subordinated under the Patriarch Seleucia- Ctesiphon, which was known differently as Church of Seleucia or better Seleucia-Ctesiphon, later on called as the church of Babylon or Church of East or Chaldean Church or Assyrian Church.

Saint Thomas Christians and the divisions
Saint Thomas Christians and the divisions

The Indian Church was raised to the rank of a Metropolitan Church in 714/728 AD.

The evidences from the available ancient documents associate following East Syrian prelates with India. David of Basrah ( ca.295 AD), John of Persia and Greater India ( 325 AD), Mar Komai ( 425 AD), Ma’na of Riwarddasir ( Persia) ( 470 AD), Patriach Sabrisho I ( 6/7th century), Bishop Thomas ( 8th century), Mar Sabrisho and Mar Peroz ( 9th century), Mar Jacob ( 14th century).

Clear and precise evidence is available in the letters of two East Syrian Patriarchs, Mar Ishoyahb III ( 647/8 or 650/1) and Mar Timothy I ( 780-823 AD).

There are some fragmentary evidences which seem to suggest that there were Indian Bishops in earlier centuries. Patriarch Thimothy in 8th Century calls Archdeacon ( Arken), head of faithful of India.

“Metropolitans of All India” some time after the ninth century were definitely consecrated in Persia and send to India. (( Placid –“ Four essays on the Pre-Seventeenth Century Church of the Thomas Christians of India ( Malabar) “ ))

Early Bishops connected with India Year
Fragmentary evidences to suggest Indian Bishops in early centuries Early Centuries
David of Basrah ca.295 AD
John of Persia and Greater India 325 AD
Mar Komai 425 AD
Ma’na of Riwarddasir ( Persia) 470 AD
Patriach Sabrisho I 6th/7th century
Patriarch Mar Ishoyahb III 647 AD
Raised as a Metropolitan Church 714/728 AD
Patriarch Mar Timothy I 780 AD
Patriarch Thimothy calls Archdeacon ( Arken), head of faithful of India c.780-826
Bishop Thomas 8th century
Mar Sabrisho and Mar Peroz 9th century
Mar Jacob 14th century
Mar Yahballaha (Jaballaha) as the metropolitan Mar Denah, Mar Jacob and Mar John as the Bishops. 1504 ADAt the time of arrival of Portuguese.

At the time of Portuguese arrival in India (1504), the hierarchy of Church of Saint Thomas Christians consists of a Metropolitan and three suffragan Bishops. Mar Yahballaha (Jaballaha) was the metropolitan and Mar Denah, Mar Jacob and Mar John were the Bishops.

The entire Saint Thomas Christians were one rite and one Church till the middle of Seventeenth Century.

II. About the Siant Thomas Christians early Liturgy

The Older hudra MSS contained three Anaphora for use in Chaldean Church. Mar Esai Hudra also contains three Anaphora. (( Macomber – “The oldest known text of the Anaphora of the Apostles Addai and Mari”)).

It is generally accepted that the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, Nestorius and Theodore were in use among Saint Thomas Christians at the time of Synod of Diamper in 1599 AD. (( Mundadan- “History of Christianity in India” p-199, Kanichikatil- “Divine liturgy in the vision of Narsai” p-107))

There are many fragmentary evidences for this liturgy in early centuries in India. The earliest concrete surviving document, which assert the presence of East Syrian Liturgy is the Vatican Syriac MSS-22, written at Cranganore, Malabar in 1301 AD. This is an Epistolarium copied to use in Malabar from a text used in Cathedral of Beth Koke in Seleucia- Ctesiphon. The Prelate, Mar Joseph, who was send to Malabar by the Chaldean Patriarch in 1556 died at Rome in 1569. He has left a number of manuscripts in Rome. These are parts of the Vatican Library. The Vatican Syr. Codex 45, 46, 66 are that of the Pontifical, Missal and Rituals. These provide valuable information about the liturgy which was in use before the Syond of Diamper in Malabar.


III.About the name of the Church

The Church founded by Apostle Thomas was known in different names in different periods of the history. Some of the names seen in records are Church of Saint Thomas, Nazrani Church, Malankara Church, Syro Chaldean Church , Suriyani Church etc.

The faithful were called Saint Thomas Christians, Mar Thoma Kristianigal, Suriyani Christians, Nazrani Mappilas etc.


IV. After the arrival of Portuguese in Malabar

The Bishops in Malabar were following- Mar Thomas , Mar John, Mar Yahballaha, Mar Denha , Mar Joseph, Mar Elias and Mar Abraham.

In 1504, Mar Yahballaha was the ” Metropoliten of All India” in Malabar. There were three suffragon bishops. In 1565, Angamaly was made a Metropolitan See. The first Synod at Angamaly was convoked in 1583 by Mar Abraham. Mar Abraham was the last Chaldean Metropolitan who ruled the undivided Church of Saint Thomas Christians. He died in 1597 AD.

Events Year
A Saint Thomas Christian, Joseph goes to Mesopotamia 1490 AD
He comes back with two Bishops, Mar Thomas and Mar John from Mesopotamia c. 1496 AD
Vasco de Gamma’s first landing in India near Calicut 1498 AD
Mar Yahballaha, Mar Denha and Mar Joseph arrive in Malabar 1501 AD
Metropolitan Mar John appoints George Pakalomattam ( Ittikuriath) as Archdeacon 1502 AD
Vasco de Gamma’s first meeting with Christians of Saint Thomas 1503 AD
Cochin falls under Portuguese rule 1503 AD
Cranganore is captured by the Portuguese 1504 AD
The Latin Bishopric of Funchal is created with jurisdiction over Portuguese India 1514 AD
The tomb of Saint Thomas is discovered at Mylapore 1523 AD
Goa is made a suffragon bishopric of Funchal 1539 AD
Saint Francis Xavier’s first visit to Malabar 1523 AD
A Seminary is opened in Cranganore 1546 AD
A Persian Cross ( Saint Thomas Cross ) rediscovered at Mylapore 1523 AD
Saint Franics Xavier second visit to Malabar 1549 AD
The Chaldean Church is united with Rome 1552 AD
A Jesuit College opens at Cochin 1552 AD
Archdeacon George of Christ 1552 AD
Mar Joseph and Mar Elias reach Goa 1556 AD
Goa made Archbishopric and Cochin a suffragan bishopric 1557 AD
First Jesuit mission among the Syrian Christians 1557-60 AD
Mar Joseph and Mar Elias arrives in Malabar 1558 AD
The King of Cochin publishes an edict of tolerance in favor Of Christian converts 1560 AD
Mar Joseph made to go to Europe 1561 AD
Mar Abraham arrives in Malabar 1563 AD
Mar Joseph returns to Malabar 1564 AD
Mar Abraham escapes to Mesopotamia 1564 AD
Mar Abraham appointed Archbishop of Angamaly 1564 AD
Mar Joseph send back to Europe 1565 AD
Establishment of Angamaly as Metropolitan See 1565 AD
Mar Abraham comes back to Malabar 1565 AD
First Council of Goa 1567 AD
Mar Joseph dies in Rome 1569 AD
Second Council of Goa 1575 AD
A seminary is founded at Vaipicotta 1577 AD
Mar Simon comes to Malabar 1577 AD
First Synod of Angamale convoked by Bishop Mar Abraham 1583 AD
Third Council of Goa 1585 AD
Archdeacon John 1585 AD (?)
Archdeacon Jacob appointed by Mar Simon 1591 AD (?)
Fourth Council of Goa 1592 AD
Archdeacon George of the Cross appointed by Archbishop Mar Abraham 1593 AD
Alexis De Menezes becomes Archbishop of Goa 1595 AD
Mar Abraham’s death – St. Hormis church, Angamaly 1597 AD


V. After the death of the Chaldean Metropolitan Mar Abraham

After the death of last Chaldean Metropolitan Mar Abraham of undivided Saint Thomas Christians, the Archdeacon George ( of the Cross) according to the custom and by the virtue of appointment by Mar Abraham took administration of the Church.

Alexis De Menezes, the Arch Bishop of Goa, begins his visit in Malabar in 27 December 1598 AD. The Synod of Diamper was conducted on 1599 AD. Fr. Franics Roz SJ nominated as the successor of Mar Abraham 1599 AD. He was succeeded by Bishop Brito SJ and Bishop Garcia Francis SJ.

Archdeacon George ( of the Cross) died 1637 AD and was succeded by Archdeacon Thomas (Thomas de Campo)  in 1637 AD. A regular fight ensured with the Bishop and Archdeacon. The historic Coonan Cross Oath happened on Jan 3rd 1653 AD.

Events Year
Alexis De Menezes begins his visit in Malabar 27 December 1598 AD
Synod of Diamper 1599 AD
Fr. Franics Roz SJ nominated as the successor of Mar Abraham 1599 AD
Angamale was made suffragan to Goa 1599 AD
Padroado rule imposed on Saint Thomas Christians August,4th 1600 AD
Bishop Roz SJ consecrated 1601 AD
Synod of Angamale 1603 AD
Second Synod of Angamale ( Diocesan Statutes) 1606 AD
Angamale again becomes an Archbishopric 1608 AD
Title of Angamale changed to Cranganore 1609 AD
Boundaries of three diocese fixed 1610 AD
Bishop Roz death 1624 AD
Succeeded by Bishop Brito SJ 1624 AD
Dominican Seminary at Kaduthuruthy. 1624 AD
Edappally Ashram started for the Religious Community of St. Thomas Christians 1626 AD
Fr. Frnacis Donati in Malabar 1628 AD
Archdeacon George ( of the Cross) died 1637 AD
Thomas (Thomas de Campo) becomes the Archdeacon, Appointed by Archbishop Brito. 1637 AD
Bishop Brito SJ died 1641 AD
Succeeded by Bishop Garcia Francis 1641 AD
A monk called Athallah, reaches Mylapre, not allowed to enter Malabar August 23 rd 1652 AD
Coonan Cross Oath at Mattancherry, Cochin, Jan 3rd 1653 AD

Syond of Diamper

The Syond of Diamper is a diocesan synod by which Latin usages were formally adopted by the Christians of Saint Thomas. It was convened on June 20, 1599 under the leadership of Aleixo de Menezes, Archbishop of Goa. Archdeacon George ( of the Cross) was forced to comply with the wishes of Archbishop of Goa. This separated the Thomas Christians from the Chaldean Patriarch and subjected them directly to the Latin Archbishopric of Goa. The Archbishopric of Angamale was downgraded to a Bishopric under Goa in 1600 AD. Portuguese Padroado rule was thus imposed and the Bishops for Saint Thomas Christians were appointed by Portuguese Padroado.

It was held in the church of Diamper ( Udayamperoor) from June 20 to 26, 1599. The Synod issued 200 decrees distributed in nine actions ( sessions).

Changes in Liturgy after the Syond

The text on which the Synod of Diamper worked was a composite East Syriac text of Anaphora of Addai and Mari. (( D. Webb, “ Versions of the Malabar Liturgy” ))

The Synod suppressed the use of all other Anaphora’s except the Qurbana of Addai and Mari. The Synod declared certain passages of the Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari as impious, sacrilegious and outcome of Nestorian heresy. The Synod proposed some thirty changes in the Qurbana. The changes made by the Synod are six in litanies, seven in hymns or anthems, four in formulae pertaining to the deacon, one in response of the people, one in the text of the gospel lesson, one in affecting the whole creed. In the prayer of the priest there are five changes in pre- anaforaml part of the Qurbana of Addai and Mari. There are four changes with in the anaphora and eleven in the four variables hutame ( Sealing prayers). (( Connolly, “ Work of Menezes”, Codrington, “ The Malabar Liturgy and the Synod of Diamper”))

The corrected rite was printed by Gouvea in 1604, Portugal. According to Placid, it was never in actual use by the Church in Malabar. With regard to Taksa and Divine Praises, the lack of sufficient books and the impossibility of making new ones prevented it from getting destroyed during the destruction at the Synod of Diamper

In 1601, Franics Roz SJ became the first Latin prelate of Saint Thomas Christians. He was well versed in Syriac and Malayalam. He made further changes in the liturgy in the order in conformity with the Latin rite. There are ancient Manuscripts which contain the ordinary of the Qurbana and rubrics for the Raza ( most solemn celebration) which mentions the Second Diocesan Synod of Angamali celebrated by the first Latin Arch Bishop Franics Roz ( 1601-1624) of Saint Thomas Christians in 1603. This manuscript is preserved at Carmelite Monastery, Mannanam.( 68 Pages- which contains text of the Qurbana, rubrics for the most solemn celebration called Raza- The title of the text is “ The Order of saying Raza in the Indian Church clarified by Mar Franics in the Synod of Angamale on the forth month of the forth year of his Administration”

In 1606, Bishop Francis Roz SJ codified ‘ Diocesan Statutes” which gives a better picture of the Malabar Church after the period pertaining to Synod of Diampoor. This MSS is at Vatican library ( Codex Borgiano Indiano No-18). The Syriac title is “ Thukasa d’maritha Thomaytha d’hendo which means Statutes of the Thomite fold in India. The Malayalam title is Malankara Mar Thoma Sleeha Edavakede Kalpanakal meaning Statutes of St. Thomas fold of Malankara Church. This is written in Malayalam of Sixteenth century with a slight mixture of Syriac and Tamil. ( A copy of this is in Manjumel Monastery but not complete)

Matheiken mentions that , the Malabar Qurbana remained altogether Oritental in general arrangements and almost entirely so in its texts and formulae. Romanisation effected to an extent more in the externals. This ‘ Diocesan Statutes” were brought to light recently by J Matheiken. This MS has 142 folios. (( For a detailed study please refer the book by Matheiken “Malabar Liturgy in the Light of the Roszian Statutes”. ))

Coonan Cross Oath

In 1652, Ahatallah arrived in Mylapore who informed the Saint Thomas Christians that he is the Patriarch of All India and China who has all the powers given by Pope. In the name of Mary, Mother of God, he invited all the Thomas Christians to rally around him. The whole Thomas Christian community was roused and insurrections took place everywhere. Fr. Manoel de Leira SJ, from Mylapore informed the Portuguese about the movements of Ahatallah. The Portuguese authorities arrested and deported him to Goa via Cochin.

The Archdeacon Thomas reached Cochin with a number of soldiers and demanded to see Patriarch Ahatallah and to examine his credentials. He said he would not demand the Patriarch’s release if the credentials were found false. The Portuguese agreed first but soon they deported Ahatallah to Goa with out showing him or his credentials to the Archdeacon and his followers. The behavior of Archbishop Gracis SJ has been haughty. A false rumor was spread that Ahatallah was drowned by the Portuguese off the coast of Cochin. The Archdeacon wrote to the Portuguese Captain that they wont obey any Jesuit and let any other four religious order come and they are ready to obey with out hesitation. (( Placid- “ The Thomas Christians” ))

All moved to Mattancherry near Cochin tied a long rope as tradition says to the open air cross called the Coonan Cross and holding the rope swore they would never be under the Paulists. ( ie, the Jesuits). All the Thomas Christians except a few ( 400 or 500 or 4000) adhered to those who had taken the Oath on Friday, January 3rd 1653.


VI. After the Coonan Cross Oath

A meeting was held at Edapally and then again at Alangat on May 22, 1653, twelve priests imposed their hands on Archdeacon Thomas calling him Archbishop Mar Thomas I. A new letter said to be of Ahatallah was also produced. The meeting also provided four councilors to Archdeacon. Alexander Parampil of Kuravilangadu, Alexander Kadavil of Kaduthuruthy, George Vendur of Angamale and Anjilimootil Ittithomman of Kallicherry were the four councilors. A manifesto was also produced and it was said that Jesuits did not paid attention to the mandate of Pope and that the Archbishop was ordained by the order and command of Patriarch Ahatallh who came by the order of Pope.

Event Year
Mar Thoma I ordained bishop at Alangad by the laying of hands by 12 priests May 22nd 1653 AD
First Carmelite mission to Malabar 1657 AD
Death of Bishop Garcia SJ 1659 AD
The Vicariate of Malabar is erected by Pope Alexander VII. 1659 AD
First Latin Vicar- Apostolic of Malabar is consecrated Bishop Sebastiani 1659 AD
Bishop Sebastiani lands at Cochin. Second Carmelite mission in Malabar 1661 AD
Quilon is captured by the Dutch 1661 AD
Cranganore is captured by the Dutch 1662 AD
Cochin is captured by the Dutch 1663 AD
Bishop Sebastiani consecrates Bishop Mar Alexander de Campo (Mar Chandy Palliveettil ) and leaves Malabar 1663 AD
Mar Gregorios, the Syriac Orthodox (Jacobite) Bishop arrives in Malabar 1665 AD

Rome send Carmelities in two groups under the Propagada Congregation to Malabar headed by Fr. Sebastiani and Fr. Hyacinth. Fr. Sebastiaini arrived first in 1655. He began directly deal with the Archdeacon, Mar Thomas I. Fr. Sebastianini gained the support of many, especially with the support of Alexander Parampil, Alexandar Kadavil and the Vicar of Muttam, ( the three councilors were reconciled with Gracia SJ before the arrival of Sebastaini according to some Jesuit reports) . Fr.Sebastaini went back to Rome to submit the Report leaving behind Fr.Matheo. In his absence the other group of Carmelites under the Fr.Hyacinth arrived and negotiated with the Archdeacon Thomas . But since another Archdeacon was appointed by Bishop Gracia SJ and he was not ready to give up his position, Mar Thomas I resumed his former stand. (( Placid – “ The Thomas Christians “ ))

After the Coonan Cross Oath
After the Coonan Cross Oath

Sebastiani came back in 1661 as Bishop and Administrator of Cranganore. Bishop Gracia SJ had already died in 1659. The Dutch defeated the Portuguese and captured Cochin in 1662 and forced all other Europeans to leave Malabar. Bishop Sebastaini, then consecrated Alexander Parampil as the Bishop. Fr. Matheo, who was a botanist, gained the favor of Dutch government and stayed back in Malabar.

Between 1661 and 1662, out of the 116 churches, the Carmelites reclaimed eighty-four churches, leaving Archdeacon Thomas only thirty-two churches. The eighty-four churches and their congregations were the body from which the Syro Malabar Church and Chaldean Syrian Church have descended. The other thirty-two churches and their congregations represent the nucleus whence the Syriac Orthodox (Jacobites & Orthodox) , Thoziyur, Mar Thoma (Reformed Syrians), Syro Malankra Catholics have originated. (( Catholic Encyclopedia- “St. Thomas Christians” The Carmelite Period ))

In 1665, Mar Gregorius a Bishop send by the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch arrived in Malabar and was received by Mar Thomas I. In the mean time, two new terms, Pazhayakuttukar to represent Catholic Syrians and Puthankuttukar to represent Jacobites also emerged. According to Paulinus of Saint Bartholmew, these names was already existing before the arrival of Mar Gregorius, that representations were already sent to Rome and that those who had decided to abide by the decision of Rome were called Pazhaykuttukar and others as Puthankuttukar.

Following are a brief sketch of events among the Catholic Syrians (Syro Malabar Church) and the Malankara Syriac Orthodox ( Jacobite ) with details leading to the formation of different groups which exist today.


VII. Succeeding centuries among the Catholics- Syro Malabar Church


VIII. About the Syro Malabar Church in India

The Catholic Syrians were ruled by Mar Parampil Chandy ( Alexander de Campo) . In 1674, he requested Rome to elect a coadjutor and proposed his nephew, Mathew for the position. Carmelites arrived in India in 1676, with special Dutch passports ( as Dutch wont allow any other European to work in their areas) and they were asked by Rome to elect an Indian. They elected Raphael Figueredo in 1677, who was not a Syrian Catholic but born as an Indian in the sense that he was a half caste Portuguese. This election shook the confidence Syrian Catholics had in Carmelites and quarrels started to arise. Bishop Raphael Figueredo was later suspended and Custodius de Pinho was appointed as the Vicar Apostolic in his place. Mar Parampil Chandy died in 1687. Raphael Figueredo and Custodius de Pinho died in 1695 and 1697 respectively.

In 1694, the nephew of Mar Parampil Chandy, Mathew was nominated as the Archdeacon under Padroado. In 1700, Angelus Francis was nominated as Vicar Apostolic of Malabar under Propaganda. Since no Portuguese Bishop would give him Episcopal consecration, he was consecrated by a Chaldean Bishop Mar Simon of Ada who arrived in Malabar. Ribeiro SJ was nominated as Archbishop of Cranganore in 1704. In 1704, many Catholic Syrians met at Kaduthuruthy and manifested their desire to be under Carmelites. Archdeacon Mathew and party was against Carmelites but all were asking a Bishop of their own rite. Catholic Syrians were given permission to pass under Propaganda, if they disliked the Padroado. Another Chaldean Bishop Mar Gabriel came in 1709 and some 22 churches of both Catholic and Jacobites joined him. The churches under Padroado was comparatively enjoying peace in consideration to churches under Propaganda jurisdiction. The representatives of 73 churches under Propaganda met at Angamale and they had a mind to reinstate the ancient office of Archdeacon. The Carmelitie Visitor Apostolic Lawrence Justiniani rushed to the place and put his signature on all their proposals except one.

Mar Cariattil Thomas ( Prelate 1782-1786), Paremmakal Thomas and Sankurikal George were Administrators under Padroado. After Mar Cariattil’s death Paremmakal became the administrator of Cranganore. Under him the representatives of all the 84 Churches assembled at Angamale and executed the famous Angamale Padiola.

In 1887, two Apostolic vicariates of Kottayam (Changanacherry) and Trichur were created for Syrian Catholics. In 1992, the Syro Malabar Church was raised to a Major Archiepiscopal Sui iuris Church.

Division in Syro Malabar Church

There was a division followed with arrival of Mar Mellus Elias  in 1874 leading to the formation of Chaldean Syrian Church in India.

Among the Syro Malabar Catholics
Among the Syro Malabar Catholics

About the Syro Malabar Church name

In earlier documents, Syro- Chaldean rite is used. The name “ Syro Malabar Church ” is used officially at present. This name is first seen in the letters of Aloysius Mary 1784. The name came to common use only from 1887. The other names used are Chaldeo- Indian or Indo- Chaldean or Mar Toma Nazrani Church.

About the Syro Malabar Church Liturgy

Both the Pazhyacoor and Puthencoor continued the use of Roz version of liturgy. According to the Scholars this is very identical to the earlier liturgy used in Malabar and different from what Menezes had worked on.

Following are some changes happened among the Catholic Syrians,

In 1757, Propaganda considered reprinting the draft Menezes had left, but ten years later they decided that the opposition to change would be too great for it to succeed. In 1768, Propaganda ruled that the name of the Chaldean Patriarch should be removed and that there should be elevation immediately after the consecration.

With these changes the Taksa was printed in 1774 and came in to use. This missal printed in Rome in 1774 was substantially that of Archbishop Roz celebrated in 1603 and agrees with Addai and Mari more closely than what was printed by Gouvea. This liturgy got further changes by gradual latinisation and was in use in Syro Malabar church until it was restored in 1962.

The earliest attempt for restoration according to the genuine liturgical tradition was started in 1888. In the initial stage of restoration, the Syro Malabar bishops had a very little role. All the efforts for restoration in Syro Malabar Church came from Pope and Congregation of Oriental Churches. In 1908, the Syro Malabar bishops requested Pope Pius X to approve the Syriac translation of the Pontifical they are preparing. In 1920, the Apostolic delegate pointed out the inappropriateness in using a Pontifical in latin with an ordination Qurbana in Syriac for priests, bishops etc.

Before 1920, a translation reached Rome but was rejected because of the grammar, literary style and terminology etc. In 1932 Mar Kandathil, bishop of Ernakulam obtained copies of Pontifical from the Chaldean Patriarch. In 1932, Mar Kandathil again raised the question of translation and requested for a good translator from Rome or Iraq etc. The congregation of Oriental Churches was not in favor of translations from Roman books. They asked an authority of that time, Rene Graffin for a translation and he said he will never do that even if ordered to by a superior as it is wrong to translate from Roman books for this Church.

The then Congregation of Oriental Churches Secretary, Korolovsky and the Consulters Placid and Tisserant agreed to this. A commission headed by James Voste restored the Pontifical according to the liturgical tradition and was confirmed by Pope Pious XII on 9th July 1939. The indigenous Syro Malabar bishops did not play any constructive role and what followed was delay in printing the Malayalam copies.

In 1938 Cardianl Tisserant, the then Secretary of congregation of Oriental Churches informed the Syro Malabar bishops the intention of Holy See to restore the Qurbana and divine praises according to the genuine liturgical tradition. In reply, the Bishops objected to the restoration and requested that Romanised liturgy be continued with out change. That response is very understandable in the background of training the Bishops received and the situations of the period. Mostly the secretaries of missionaries were elevated as indigenous Bishops and they continued to follow the policies of missionaries. The result was that the restoration process came to a standstill.

In 1953, the Bishops conference formed a liturgical committee in Ernakulam headed by Mar Tharayil but their main interest was to shorten the Qurbana, reduce prayers, make further changes to conform to Roman style. Taking note of this development A Raes requested the involvement of Rome saying that the formation of Bishops in Syro Malabar separated them from their rite. Placid Podipara also requested the intervention of Rome stressing that Rome has to take initiative to restore Qurbana according to the original liturgical traditions.

Secretary of Congregation of Oriental Churches, Cardinal Tisserant visited Kerala in 1953. In 1953, Pope Pious XII nominated a commission to edit the texts of the Qurbana and divine praises. The Restored Syriac Pontifical’s promulgated in 1958 have come to use in Malayalam for the sacred ordinations (1960) and Episcopal consecration ( 1968). The Ordo, a guide book of Pontifical’s was also published from Rome in 1958.

In 1957, Pope Pius XII approved the restored text of Qurbana and accessiroies with permission to use in Malalayam. A restored Syriac taksa was published by 1960. From 1958 onwards priests studying in Rome used the restored Syriac taksa of 1960 ( Syriac taksa published from Alwaye in 12 May 1960) . Till 1962, Qurbana in Syro Malabar was celebrated in Syriac language . The first Malayalam Qurbana was based on the restored Taksa ( Malayalam taksa -3rd July 1962- This Taksa exist in Syriac, Malayalam, Hindi, Marathi and Telgu). The restoration was partial and there has been resistance to restoration. Since then there have been improvements in language and at time abuses. There are different taksa’s approved and available in circulation ( Taksa of 1968, Taksa of 1970 for North Indian missions, Taksa for Solemn Raza 1986 ( Pope John Paul celebrated at Kottayam on 1986), Solemn and Simple Qurbana of 1989 etc)

The funeral service and office of the dead was introduced in Malayalam in 1966. Two Volumes of the divine office for the season of Lent and Easter were introduced in Malayalam in 1967. The restored ceremonies of Hosanna Sunday, Passover Thursday and Passion Friday were introduced in 1689.


IX. About Chaldean Syrian Church

When Paremmakal was living a deputation went to Chaldean Patriarch and one of them Pandari was consecrated as Bishop and send to Malabar. After the death of Paremmakal, Kattakkayam Abraham was elected as Administrator and Mar Pandari came out as his supporter. Sankurikal George was appointed as administrator in 1800. While Paremmakal was the Administrator of Cranganore, all the Catholic Thomas Christians were under him, ie under the Padroado jurisdiction. After his death they again began gradually divided between Padroado and Propaganda jurisdictions. This continued till the suppression of the Padroado jurisdiction in 1838 and when all came under the Propaganda.

In 1802, Propaganda nominated Guriel Mar John, the Chaldean Bishop of Salmas as Visitor Apostolic of Malabar to pacify them. In 1861 Mar Rokos Thomas came to Malabar and began to exercise jurisdiction. Fr.Chavara persuaded Mar Rokos Thomas to go back and accompanied him till Cochin where he took a ship to Basora in 1862. The Churches that had followed Mar Rokos Thomas were allowed to choose between Propaganda and Padroado ( restored) jurisdiction. A priest named Thondanatt accompanied Mar Rokos to Mesopotamia and he was consecrated at the hands of rival Patriarch ( Assyrian) and returned to Malabar. After coming back he started living like a priest. Mar Mellus Elias came to Malabar in 1874 and some 30 Padroado and 2 Propaganda churches followed him. Mar Abdiso Thondanatt also joined Mar Mellus Elias. Another Bishop also came from Chaldean Patriarch, named Mar Jacob and he went back to Mesopotamia chiefly due to the efforts of Nidhiry Mani Kathanar. Mar Mellus Elias was forced to go from Malabar in 1882 and before going back he entrusted his followers to Mar Abdiso Thondanatt and to Augustine ( a Chaldean Corepiscopus who had come to help Mar Mellus Elias) and in 1908 they received a Nestorian ( from the rival line Patriarch ) bishop, Abimlech Mar Timotheus and those who followed began to be known as Chaldeans and are part of the Assyrian Church of East.

About the Chaldean Syrian Church name

They were called Mellusians or Suray’s or Chaldeans. The present name used in Chaldean Syrian Church.

About the Chaldean Syrian Church Liturgy

Till 1908, the Chaldean Syrian Church followed the liturgy used in Syro Malabar Church. Currently they use the East Syriac Taksa of the Assyrian Church of East.


X. Succeeding centuries among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox


XI. About the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church in India

The Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church were governed by the successors of Mar Thomas I. Mar Thomas I was followed by Mar Thomas II, Mar Thomas III, Mar Thomas IV, Mar Thomas V and all related to Mar Thomas I and to one another. They also received Bishops from Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. In 1676, Mar Andrew Alveus and in 1685 a Catholicos Mar Basil and Mar John came to Malabar. In 1741 Mar John came from Jacobite Patriarch. In 1751 Mar Basil, a Catholicos and Mar Gregory and Mar John came to Malabar. Mar Thomas VI succeeded Mar Thomas V in 1765. Mar Gregory and Mar John consecrated Mar Thomas VI as Mar Dionysius I.

Divisions in Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church

Among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox
Among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox

In 1744, Mar Cyril was expelled from Travancore and Cochin by Mar Dionysius I leading to the formation of Thozhyur Church.

In 1837, when the Syriac Orthodox (Jacobites) and Anglicans parted ways, some Syriac Orthdox joined the Anglican Church.

In 1876, the influence of Anglican missionaries led the formation of Mar Thoma Syrian Church.
In 1910-12, there was a division among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox as Orthodox and Jacobite.
In 1930, some Malankara Orthodox Syriac under the leadership of Mar Ivanios joined Catholic Church leading to the formation of Syro Malankara Church.

About the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church name

In early documents Malankara Orthodox is used. The name Jacobites are also used which came to use after the division. After the division in 1912, Patriarch party and Metran party is used.

Orthodox is used to represent Malankara Orthodox Syriac Church. The other names used by this Church are Indian Orthodox. Jacobites or Syriac Orthodox is used to represent the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church under the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch.

About the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Liturgy

Both the Catholics and Orthodox continued the use of Roz version of liturgy in South India. According to the Scholars this is very identical to the earlier liturgy used in Malabar and different from what Menezes had worked on during the Syond of Diamper.

Following are some changes happened among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox,

The whole of Antiochean rite was not introduced in Malankara at once. It took sufficiently long time to substitute it for the Chaldean rite. Both the Chaldean rite and Antiochean rite were ramifications of the tree of Syriac Church, though each had particular liturgy, the influence of the Antiochean disciplinary system in the formation of Chaldean was considerably great and there was a striking similarity between two.

According to the testimony of Paulinus, Mar Gregorius of Syirac Orthodox Church ( 1665 AD), restored the use of fermented host in the celebration of Holy Qurbana, the traditional vestments of liturgical functions and the old calendar.

F. Nau is of the opinion that a complete switch over to West Syrian Antiochean rite was effected though the efforts of Catholicos ( Maphrian) Mar Basilios and Mar John who arrived in 1685 AD. But this argument does not go with the available reports and manuscripts which suggest the usage of Catholic, Chaldean and Orthodox practices among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox until the beginning of nineteenth century.

There are some evidences from the letter of Mar Thoma V on 1729, which suggest that the Malankara Syriac Orthodox continued the old Syrian customs which they had restored and continue to celebrate the Chaldean liturgy but used fermented bread. There are also many evidences in the form of reports, testimonies which suggest that till 1748, the Malankara Syriac Orthodox were celebrating the liturgy which Bishop Francis Roz SJ reformed with leavened bread. After the arrival of Bishops in 1751, the Malankara Syriac Orthodox began to use the West Syriac liturgy. This how ever did not completely replace the Chaldean liturgy which they had been using till then. Some reports of 1788, suggests that after the failure of reunion attempts under Dionysius I the West Syriac rite was used increasingly.

After the arrival of British Protestant missionaries, a strong under current was created among the Malankar Syriac Orthodox to adopt to Protestant style of worship. Against this West Syriac traditions gained momentum among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church.

In the Syond of Mavelikara in 1836, it was decided that the Syrian traditions and liturgy were not at all to be changed or altered. The reports of Howard who visited many Malankara Syriac Orthodox Churches confirm that the liturgy used in 1862, was West Syrian Antiochean rite.

With the foundation of a printing press at Pampakuda, many editions of the liturgical books has been printed starting with the Book of Anaphoras. Five of them were published in 1886 and sixteen in 1931.


XII. About the Thozhiyur Church (Anjoorians)

The Thozhiyur Church known today as Malabar Independent Syrian Church originated at the year 1772, when Mar Cyril was expelled from Travancore and Cochin by Mar Dionysius I.

About the Thozhiyur Church name

Earlier Anjoor or Thozhiyur Church was used. Presently Malabar Independent Syrian Church is used officially.

About the Thozhiyur Church Liturgy

The Thozhyur Church uses the West Syriac liturgy.


XIII. About the Syrian Anglican Church

According to some estimate about 6000/12000 Jacobites joined Anglican Church in 1837 AD. The Anglican diocese of Travancore with headquarters at Kottayam was erected in 1879. They merged in to Church of South India when it was formed.

About the Church name

They were known as Syrian Anglicans. After their meger, the merged Church is known as Church of South India. Most of there marriages are from Mar Thoma Church and Syriac Orthodox Church.


XIV. About Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Although the Syond of 1836, severed all further relations with Protestants some sympathizers remained with in the Malankara Syriac Orthodox community. This party was led by four priests, the most prominent of whom was the Abraham Malpan of Maramon. They were entertaining the desire to reform the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church according to the doctrine and practice of Anglican Church.

Shortly after the split with Protestants, Abraham Malpan started to re write the liturgy according to the Protestant teachings. Mar Dionysios who was uneasy about these activities excommunicated the whole party. This was a serious blow to reformers and they send a deacon, Mathew to the Syriac Orthodox Patriach of Antioch. He was consecrated as Bishop Mathew Mar Athanasius in 1842 . With the credentials of Syriac Orthodox Patriarch he reached Malabar in 1843 and proclaimed himself head of the Syriac Orthodox of Malankara. Mar Dionysius IV informed the Patriarch about the Anglican tendencies of Mathew Mar Athanasius. Mar Qurilos was send to Malabar by Patriarch with blank papers. Mar Qurilos filled in blank papers himself that, he was appointed as the Metropolitan of Malankara. This added confusion. Mar Dionysius IV died in 1855. Mar Qurilos was ordered to leave Malabar and a court order in favor of Mathew Mar Athanasius was issued in 1852.

Mar Stephanos also came from the Patriarch. As Anglicans were on the side of Mathew Mar Athanasius, the Travancore government supported his party. Mar Stephanos appealed to the Anglcain authorities in England and obtained a decision to the effect that the Anglcian missionaries were not to interfere in the affairs of Syrians of Malabar. But the British Resident succeeded in getting rid of Mar Stephanos in 1857.

Mar Qurilos reappeared, he and his followers carry on with law suits in order to recover the churches which were in the possession of Mathew Mar Athanasios. Mean time Pulikottil Joseph, a priest who was managing suit against Mathew Mar Athanasius was consecrated by the Patriarch as Mar Dionysius V. With the help of the small Thozhiyur Sabaha Bishop, Mathew Mar Athanasius consecrated his cousin Thomas as a Bishop in 1868.

The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, fearful of the Protestant influences working behind the scene, went to London in 1874 and raised his concern over the Protestant activities in Malabar. The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Mar Peter IV reached Malabar in 1875. The Patriarch excommunicated Mathew Mar Athanasius and got the support of Royal Court of Travancore, but the schism, how ever continued.

The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch divided the Malankara community in to seven eparchies and consecrated six metropolitans and among them Mar Dionysios V became a primus inter pares. Mathew Mar Athanasius died in 1877 and his successor Thomas Mar Athanasius carried on law suits against Mar Dionysius V. The case lasted for another ten years 1879-89 and went through the successive courts of the Travancore Judiciary. The Reformers were finally obliged to relinquish every church they had previously possessed.

Under the leadership of Thomas Mar Athanasios, they organized themselves to a separate Church and built new Churches in those places where they have to leave the old Churches to Malankara Syriac Orthdox. They therefore formed an independent church, and were known as Reformed Jacobites until they took the name Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church.

In 1961, there was a split leading to the formation of an Evangelical Church and according to an estimate 1/4th joined the new group.

About the Malankara Mar Thoma Church name

In earlier documents, Navikaranakar is used. Reformed Party was also used. At present officially the name Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church is used.

About Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church Liturgy

The use of the liturgy Abraham Malpan re write according to the Protestant teachings was limited in Maramon. Until 1875, when Mathew Mar Athanasius was the Malankara Metropolitan he did not made any changes in the practices. Until, 1893, the liturgy reformed by Abraham Malpan was in use in Mar Thoma Syrian Church. There is certain ambiguity about the liturgical changes.

After 1893, differences in the books of liturgy began to increase as changes were made. Two groups were formed, one pro- Orthodox, who did not want to make further changes and the other pro- protestant who wanted to make further changes. Finally in 1926, December, the consultative assembly confirmed ten reforms in the Taksa ( Eucharistic Liturgy) and three changes in practices which they identified as the reforms of the modern reformers of the Church of Malabar. The Liturgy currently use in Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church has been composed in accordance with these articles. They also came to be known popularly as Reforms of Abraham Malpan.


XV.Split among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox

In 1906, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch, Mar Ignatios Abdallah Sattuf came to Malabar and got involved in conflicts with the Metropolitan of Malankara Mar Dionysios VI. The Patriarch was received with due honors but the Metropolitan, a man of strong character refused to let the Patriarch examine the finances. The Patriarch excommunicated the Metropolitan and consecrated a new Metropolitan under the name of Mar Kurilos.

This was followed by a division. In the course of time both parties, defined their position in the Synod held at Alwaye ( Patriarchists) and at Kottayam ( Metran party). These two groups are known as Syriac Orthodox ( Jacobite) and Orthodox Syriac ( Orthodox).

The two sides were reconciled in 1958 but again split happened by the actions initiated by Syriac Orthodox Patriarch in 1975. In the 1995 judgment of Supreme Court of India, it has been ruled that there is only one Orthodox Church in India and its split in to two factions.


XVI. About Syro Malankara Church

In 1923, George Mar Dionysios, visited the Syriac Orthodox Patriach at Homs and tried to obtain a compromise between two parties but this was not successful. Mar Dionysios also met the Syrian Catholic Metropolitan of Baghdad, who urged him to reunite with Rome. Two letters from the Syrian Catholic Patriarch of Antioch did the same. At a meeting in 1926, the Orthodox Syriac ( Orthodox) , choose Mar Ivanios of Bethany to open correspondence with Rome. Eventually, except Mar Theophilos, all the other Bishops were reluctant to take any decisive step.

In 1930 the Syro-Malankara Church came into being as an Eastern rite of the Catholic Church when some Malankara Orthodox Syriac under the leadership of Mar Ivanios joined Catholic Church. In 1932, two more Syriac Orthodox ( Jacobite) Bishops joined this Church. Mar Severios of the Malankara Orthodx in 1937 and Mar Dioscoros of the Syriac Orthodox ( Jacobite) in 1939. The Church was raised to a Major Archiepiscopal Sui iuris Church in 2005.

About the Syro Malankara Church name

Officially Syro Malankara Catholic Church is used. Also known as Malankara Catholics.

About Syro Malankara Church Liturgy

The Syro Malankara Church uses the West Syriac text with a translation into Malayalam. A number of books has been printed since 1937. A missal was printed in Tiruvilla in 1949, which had the Anaphora of Mar Xystos, with the ordinary of the mass, five common gospels and eight supplementary Prumion – Sedre. This edition has a standard translation in Malayalam.


XVII. Summary & Demography

Division Summary

Saint Thomas Christians Demography
Saint Thomas Christians Demography

1653-1665 AD- As two groups- Malankara Syriac Orthodox and Syro Malabar Catholics. ( Were known in different names in history- Pazhyacoor- Syro Chaldaic rite for the present Syro Malabar Church and Puthencoor- Malankara Orthodox- Jacobites- for the present Malankara Syriac Orthodox)

From the present Syro Malabar Church ( East Syriac liturgical tradition)

1. 1874-1908 AD- Formation of Chaldean Syrian Church, they joined Assyrian Syrian Church in 1907 AD.

From the present Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church ( West Syriac liturgical tradition)

1.1744 AD- Formation of Thozhyur Church, known presently as Malabar Independent Syrian Church.
2.1837 AD- Some Malankara Syriac Orthodox joined the Anglican Church.
3.1876-1889 AD- Formation of Reformed Syrians known presently as Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church.
4.1910-12 AD-Division among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox as Orthodox and Jacobite.
5.1930 AD-Formation of Syro Malankara Catholic Church.
6.1958 AD- End of division among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox as Orthodox and Jacobite.
7.1975 AD- Division again among the Malankara Syriac Orthodox as Malankara Orthodox Syriac Church (Orthodox) and Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church (Jacobite).


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  1. peter says

    While going extensively through various documents in history ,it has been found that christians in kerala had no ties with Roman church.The portuguese forcefully brought the christians in India under the rule of Pope.But the articles of many historians have purposefully negated this fact,for their attachment towards Rome.

    The architecture of ancient indian churches and the decorations of inner sanctum clearly shows the eastern influence.There can be a contention whether indian churches were following the Assyrian church of East or the Patriachs of East ,but they were definitly not following the Catholic churches of West.The chaldean catholic church was only formed in East after 15th century,but the church historians in kerala have unbashedly pointed to chaldean influence in kerala.

    The disunity among churches was created by portuguese and later by the western forces.The portuguese forcefully changed the character of churhces with the tacit support of pope.Many customs of the indian christians were forecefully changed and only in small pockets of kerala(they still follow the easten churches) such old customs still preserved.

    I feel the articles in general try to mislead the christians in believing that there was a relation between christians and the Rome.An objective church history should be followed without an inherent bias and only that would help to know more about the history of christians in kerala .

  2. nasrani says

    A definitive date for the commencement of schism cannot be given although conventionally, it is often stated that the Assyrian Church of the East became estranged from the church of the Roman Empire in the years following the Council of Ephesus (431), Oriental Orthodoxy separated after the Council of Chalcedon (451), and the split between the Church of Rome and the Orthodox Church is usually dated to 1054.

    Church of East traces its origins to the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, said to be founded by Saint Thomas the Apostle as well as Saint Mari and Addai as evidenced in the Doctrine of Addai.

    This is the original Christian church in what was once Parthia; eastern Iraq and Iran. Geographically it stretched in the medieval period to China and India.Church of East developing within the Persian Empire, at the east of the Christian world, rapidly took a different course from other Eastern Christians.

    Prior to the Portuguese arrival in India in 1498, it provided “East Syrian” bishops to the Saint Thomas Christians

    There is an increasing trend among us in blaming the Portuguese for everything. We need to keep in mind that documented history seems to begin with the arrival of the Portuguese.

    At the moment when the Portuguese arrived on the Malabar Coast, the Christian communities that they found there had had longstanding traditional links with the East Syrian Christians in Mesopotamia.

    During the subsequent period, in 1552, a split occurred within the Church of the East. Part of it joined Rome, so that besides the Catholicosate of the East another, “Chaldaean,” Patriarchate was founded, headed by the Patriarch Mar John Sulaqa (1553-1555).

    Both claim to be the rightful heir to the East Syrian tradition. It is very difficult to see the precise influence of this schism on the Church of Malabar as there was always overtones to Rome in earlier centuries. Apparently, both parties sent bishops to India.

    The last pre-schism East Syrian Metropolitan, Mar Jacob (1504-1552), died just when the schism occurred. Catholicos, Simeon VII Denkha send a prelate to India. The person whom he sent was Mar Abraham, who, later, was to be the last Syrian Metropolitan of Malabar, after having gone over to the Chaldaean side. When he arrived in Malabar is not known, but he must have been there already in 1556. Approximately at the same time, Abdisho IV (1555-1567), the successor of John Sulaqa (murdered in 1555), sent the brother of John, Mar Joseph, to Malabar as a Chaldaean bishop; although consecrated in 1555 or 1556, Mar Joseph could not reach India before the end of 1556, nor Malabar before 1558. He was accompanied by another Chaldaean bishop, Mar Eliah.

    Before the Portuguese we have records for the following,

    1329 Aug.9-Jordan Catelani appointed first bishop of the diocese of Quilon created by Pope John XXII.
    1348- The Papal representative John Marignoli at Quilon.
    1439-Pope Eugene writes to Thomas, Emperor of the Indians.
    1490-Two Chaldean bishops John and Thomas in Kerala.
    1498 May 20-Vasco de Gama lands at Kappad near Kozhikode

    The statement of painting Portuguese as the first western missionary to arrive is not fair.

    Alexis de Menezes, Archbishop of Goa from 1595 until his death in 1617 decided to bring the Kerala Christians to obedience after the death of Bishop Mar Abraham [ the last Syrian Metropolitan of Malabar,died in 1957 and was laid to rest at St. Hormis church, Angamaly], an obedience that they conceived as complete conformity to the Roman or ‘Latin’ customs.

    This meant separating the Nazranies not only from the Catholicosate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, but also from the Chaldaean Patriarchate of Babylon, and subjecting them directly to the Latin Archbishopric of Goa.

    The most important stage of their activity was the famous Synod of Diamper (Udayamperur) in 1599, when the local Christians’ customs were officially anathematised as heretical and their manuscripts were condemned to be either corrected or burnt.

    The oppressive rule of the Portuguese padroado (’patronage’) provoked a violent reaction on the part of the indigenous Christian community. This was the Kunan Kurishu Satyam (Bent Cross Oath) in Matancherry, Cochin, in 1653, when the rebels, headed by their Archdeacon, made a vow not to obey the Jesuit missionaries. In the same year, in Alangad, Archdeacon Thomas was ordained, by the laying on of hands of twelve priests, as the first indigenous Metropolitan of Kerala, under the name Mar Thoma I.

    Later, in 1665, on the arrival of Mor Grigorios Abd al-Jalil, a bishop sent by the Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Patriarch in a Dutch ship, this movement resulted in the Mar Thoma party’s joining the Antiochian Patriarchate and in the gradual introduction of the West Syrian liturgy, customs and script on the Malabar Coast.

    [ Corrections or additions are welcome]
    -Seven Churches are drafted from Prof Menanchery articles.
    -Divisions are from many sources including many Encyclopaedia Britannica articles.

  3. Rev.Dr.JTMathew says

    It is fascinating! I would like to acknowledge the source as I am engaged in re-writing my doctoral dissertation.
    Thanks so much,

  4. Suraj Iype says

    One of the legitimate problems is that the Church of Selucia itself was in a state of flux.

    Yuhanon Saluqa went over to Rome , but his Patriarchal line remained in comunion with Rome only at best till 1600 . Aftter 1650 there existed three independant Patriarchal lines one in Qudshanis, Amid and in Khwabish.

    Bishops, parishes and entire dioceses kept changing alliegances. My point can be made by the fact that todays Assyrian line of Mar Dinkha is a direct descendent of the Saluqa line. And the line that was nestorian at the time Saluqa is today the line of the Chaldean Catholic Mar Emmanuel Delly.

    So at the arrival of the Portuguese, certainly it cannot be said of certain that the Church in Malabar was Catholic. Ofcourse Historians can have that view , but that assertion will be disputed by the Orthodox and others.

    Even today new material is being uncovered and analyzed, srite.de history section make that point well.

  5. Varghese k.o. says

    “St Thomas Christians by this process got divided in to East Syrians and West Syrians in liturgy.”

    What are the main defferences between East & West Syrian Liturgies.

  6. John Mathew says

    The author writes from the perspective of a Roman Catholic apologist and not a historian. The author’s wording implies that the Syro-Malabar are continuous with the original faith of our ancestors — this is un-true. The only Church in Kerala that has a valid claim to being continuous with our original pre-missionary Church is the Church of the East (known in Kerala as the Chaldean Syrian Church). All other groups (the Orthodox, the Syro-Malabar, etc) were originally under the Church of the East and then via missionary-induced schisms formed their separate groups.

    Perhaps George Menachery’s work should not be used blindly without a logical consideration of un-biased history.

    Some issues:

    Point 1. “Those who continued with East Syrian theological and liturgical tradition are known as Syro Malabar Church in communion with the Catholic Church”

    This is misleading with the word “continued” implying that the Syro-Malabar have theological continuity with the original faith of the Malabar Christians. Much of the factual evidence (e.g., literature that we still have from the old days) suggests that before the Portuguese we were in communion with the Church of the East. Their theology is different from that of the Catholic Church. Moreover the latinization of the liturgy and forms of worship introduced by the Catholics is most certainly not continuous with the older traditions. The Romans even denied the Catholics of Kerala communion with their fellow schismatic peers the so-called “Chaldean Catholics” of Assyria.

    Point 2. “In 1874 a section of East Syrians from Thrissur came in to communion with Catholicos Patriarch of the Church of the East in Qochanis ( Melus / Rokkos schism in Syro Malabar ). They follow the East Syrian tradition and are known as Chaldean Syrian Church.”

    The use of the term schism is highly absurd. If anything Melus and Rokkos managed to do (indirectly) one of the few positive things in our history: the re-establishment of a Church in Kerala that has a connection to the old Church of the East, whom we *all* were under prior to the arrival of the Roman Catholic missionaries (this is of course the Church of the East).

    Point 3. “Joseph Cariattil, Thomas Paremmakkal, Mar Thoma IV, V, VI (Dionysius I), Nidhiry Mani Kathanar, Thachil Mathoo Tharakan, and Mar Ivanios are some of the great souls who tried for re unification and unity among various Nasrani denominations.”

    This statement is written from the perspective of a Roman Catholic and is not universal. “Re-unification” to a schismatic faction (the Syro-Malabar) is hardly a laudable goal. Moreover, Mar Ivanios *created* a new schism, and did not re-unify.

    Point 4. “But due to the negative attitude of the western missionaries, who were generally afraid of losing their authority in Malabar and sometimes the scrupulous attitudes of the Orthodox Church leadership, these attempts were mostly futile.”

    The first part is accurate; however, to imply that the attitude of the Orthodox Church in maintaining its communion with the Syriac Patriarch was a counter-productive or strange is silly. Although the Orthodox Church follows a different liturgy than the original Church of Kerala (the Church of the East) there are some important points that justify their position:
    1. The Patriarchate of Antioch is an ancient Patriarchate of the original undivided Christian Church and represents the root of Syriac Christianity in Asia — hence it is more appropriate to be aligned with them than the Pope of Rome which represents a Western form of Christianity, alien to all Asian Christian communities of antiquity (except the Maronites of Lebanon)
    2. The Church of the East is a *schism* of the Syriac Orthodox Church which split due to political problems and due to the Nestorian controversy — hence in establishing contact with the Patriarch of Antioch the Syriac Christians of Kerala only re-established their link to the oldest church of Syriac Christianity, the Antiochene Church
    3. The Liturgy of St James is most likely the oldest Liturgy, and the Liturgy of Adai and Mari probably derive from it.
    Hence, the Orthodox Church in Kerala have strong justification for their desire to be independent, aligned with a Syriac Patriarch, as opposed to being absorbed by a church of Catholic converts through so-called “re-unification” attempts. Again, the oldest Church of Kerala (for which we have evidence) is the Church of the East; but in terms of general Christian history, the Church of Antioch predates the Church of the East and is it’s father (moreover, it predates the Church of Rome as well, as Antioch was Peter’s pre-Roman fruit).

  7. JC says

    I heard about Mavelikara Padiyola of 1836 which was against the Reformations.

    The split in jacobites is evident even when Mar Athanasius and Mar Duionysius were the Metropolitans.

    Only in 1912 it took in to the present structure, into two Churches, one known as Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church under the Catholicate of the East and the other known as the Malankara Syrian Orthodox (Jacobite) Church under the Patriarch of Antioch.

    This division of the Church in 1912 marked the beginning of a prolonged litigation between the two churches on the validity of the Catholicate established in 1912 and the constitution adopted in 1934.

    In the course of this era of litigation and fight peace and unity prevailed in the Church from 1958 to 1971 on the basis of a court verdict of 1958. In 1971, however, clashes occurred leading to the revival of litigation. Are their any effort for a unity ?

  8. JC says

    It may be a new information to some of you that before Antiochianization was imported in Kerala after the Koonan Cross Oath, Portuguese from Goa send two messengers to Archdeon Thomas for negotiations for a unity.

    One of them was John Rangel and he was partisan to Bishops Garcia and Jesuits and could not do much. The other John de Lisboa. He persuaded the Archdeacon to cease acting as a bishop and write to Goa, expressing regret for what had happened. They gave assurance that if Thomas could write regret on whats happened, Goa can recommend to Rome to make himself as the Archbishop of Malabar.

    On 30 June 1656, Archdeacon Thomas wrote to the Goa saying that he had been misled by he letter of Ahathalla and asked pardon for any fault which he and his followers might have committed out of ignorance. He concluded with the request for the appointment of a non-Jesuit governor for Malabar.

    The Goan authorities conducted a meeting of the highest civil and ecclesiastical authorities. The majority recommended that Bishop Garcia be asked to appoint a governor, as desired by the archdeacon. Garcia agreed to do this, but he declined to reinstate Thomas as archdeacon. That made Archdeacon withdraw from the negotiations and another opportunity was missed.

  9. John Mathew says

    “Before Antiochization was imported …”!

    Such implied b.s. (i.e., propaganda) couldn’t have been written better by a “historian” from St. Berchmann’s college!

    “Antiochization” was the only thing that managed to create an independent Syrian Church in Kerala that was, at the very least, under an ancient and venerable Patriarchate (i.e., Antioch as opposed to Rome). And the jury on whether it is an import or not is still out. There is no definitive information on who we were in ancient times (although, I’m inclined to believe that we were East Syrians, and that the West Syrian rite came with Mor Gregorios).

    But, regardless, why is union with Rome viewed so highly? It is an aberration—a polluting of our culture and history! Why should Thomas have expressed regret at his “rebellion”? The fact remains that the Romans were a foreign church (culturally and religiously) and the establishment of the Syro-Malabar church was out of place: the Roman Catholic Church was a *younger* church, which only gained prominence due to the power of the Roman Empire (which the Roman Christians were, at least partially responsible for degrading)! The Goan “authorities” should have had no authority in India! The Roman Catholic Church is a European Church which developed along their culture. We, being Easterners (with Syrian/Mesopotamian genetic roots), have no business as subjects to Rome. We ought to have been under an Eastern Patriarch, as some of us are due to “Antiochization”.

    Not that I buy into your history (i.e., your dates … where do they come from?), but even if it’s true it’s a gift from Fate that union never occurred (as was the union of our so-called Dionysius the “Great”)— that’s why some of us retain our Eastern roots and are independent of the dictates of a foreign Roman prelate.

  10. NJ says

    Dear John Mathew

    0a. “They never revolted against the Pope”

    Can you share any evidence that it was against Pope ?

    Just to keep folks under their control and to cultivate hatred among the population these version of Koonan Cross oath was created by Jacobites. The fact is what’s been generally written doesnot have any correlation with whats happened. There are few records available on what exactly happened.

    Also most of the Syrians welcomed the Portuguese when they landed. That was mainly because the domination of Muslims and their allied relations with the local kings and arabs helped them to dominate the trade.The Portuguese also started on trade and only after decades they started showing interest in the affairs of the church in Malabar.

    Who is this canonically Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch ?

    Let me tell you something the terminologies of Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy matters in Eastern Christianity.

    The Canonical Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch is Beatitude Ignatius IV who is the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. He is the leader of the Antiochian Orthodox Church ( Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch). It is one of the four most prestigious hierarchs in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    It broke off from Roman Catholics in AD 1054.

    The Jacobite Patriarchate of Antioch is another section of Schematics ( based on your Schematics definition) which broke off from Roman Catholics in AD 451.

    “The Church of the East was an independent, free Church, never subject to the Pope (since the heresy of Papal Primacy only occurred rather recently “

    Can you elaborate on this ? Don’t just write stories if you have some issues with any denominations.

    0b. “Syro-Malabar … epithet … native church … westerners”.

    What is the propaganda in that ? Syro Malabar Church is not an alien church. It is the Church of around 60 % of the St. Thomas Christian population and the mother church of Chaldeon Church of East in India.

  11. NJ says

    1.“The majority of Syrian Christians belong to the Syro-Malabar”

    Can you share me the figures you have seen ?

    Over 60% of the St. Thomas Christians are in Syro Malabar. The Methran Kashi ( Indian Orthodox) and Bava Kashi ( Jacobites ) did not even have time to do a head count. Even head of these two factions doesnot know the number of the faithful. Its not my observation. If you want reference I can quote intellectuals who has been asking these factions to do a proper count first. The largest number of Protestants you can find in both the factions of Methran Kashi and Bava Kashi. There are around 1500 cults in Kerala who just specialise on spreading their version of Gospel among the Methran Kashi and Bava Kashi.

    Before you put your yellow glasses to view other denominations be sure to be aware of whats happening in both the factions.

    One is side its westernisation with evangelists and other side its Pariwarisation in both the factions.

    I certainly don’t think that Latin traditions are bad. It is better than the new age dimensions of Christianity.

    “Read the Peshitta in Syriac”

    I appreaicte the idea of reading it in Syriac. Is that a practical solution ?

    Other than Syro Malabar Church is there any St. Thomas Christian denomination which these days celebrate a Syriac Qurbana ?

    The move to re introduce Syriac Qurbana has met many hurdles in both the Methran Kashi and Bava Kashi factions.

    Methran Kashi ( the Indian Orthodox) these days are mostly under Alexander ideology which is mostly half pariwar and half west.

    “deplore the injection of partisan division “

    This is general Methran Kashi and Bava Kashi attitude from the last two generations of both the factions. They don’t do anything to preserve the Orthodoxy of the Church. What they promote is their partisan version of stuff which doensot stand as a fact.

    They don’t do any introspection but blame left and right every one for something or other.Better change this attitude before it gets to late.

  12. NJ says

    “Couldn’t have been written better by a “historian” from St. Berchmann’s college”

    Who said somebody from St. Berchmann’s college wrote that piece. The wide publicity and the regularization of the term has been done by none other than the Metran Kashi faction. Be gracious to take the blame for what’s been done.

    Is that you are not aware of what’ s being said as “Antiochization” ?

    The Methran Kashi view is that Antiochization started during rift with Mar Athanasius and Mar Dinosiyous as far as i understand.( ?)

    “There is no definitive information on who we were in ancient times ”

    Historical conclusions are made from the available information. Is there any reference about any early relation other than East Syrians ?

    “union with Rome ”

    The union with Rome or not would generally be depending on the opinions and views and from which view point you see history.

    ” We, being Easterners (with Syrian/Mesopotamian genetic roots), have no business as subjects to Rome. We ought to have been under an Eastern Patriarch, as some of us are due to “Antiochization”.

    That has to be told to Eastern Orthodox and to the Byzantine people also. There is not much difference between Eastern Orthodoxy or Oriental Orthodoxy or the Church of East and between Catholics in Christology or doctrine. If you were following Ecumenical circles you should be aware that the only difference these days is among the Role of Pope.

    Btw, Archdeacon Thomas before 1656 declared himself as Patriarch of All India under the order from Bishop of Rome which was a made up attempt. The later arrived Antiochen metropolitans didn’t allowed the demand for reinitiating and validating the Patriarch title as the See of St. Thomas.

    Had it happened, we could have been in better position atleast from historical point of view.

  13. NJ says

    Dear John Mathew

    This is based on your comment dated Feb 15, 2008

    The continued existence of Chaldean Syrian Church is only through Syro Malabar Church. Till 1874, there has been many effort to get Chaldean Metropolitans but has been blocked either by Jesuits/ Carmelites and some section with the Syro Malabar.

    It was with much effort of sections of Syro Malabarians that finally Melus and Rokkos ( later date) has been send by the Chaldean Patriarch. When they arrived in Malabar, again it was blocked and finally the section with in Syro Malabar had to look at Communion from the Assyrian Patriarch. Please note that they are known as Chaldeons in Kerala.

    On George Menachery’s work, can you share with us about the works of any works of Jacobites in St. Thomas Christianity from neutral point of view ?

    George Menachery is known for St. Thomas Christian Encyclopedia, which was kind of first ecumenical initiative happened among the entire population. I have been going through few Jacobite works and most of them are just partisan versions which don’t even stand on close scrutiny.

    The Liturgy of St. James and of Addai and Mari are different. There are many good articles available and interesting too to learn more about these.

    1.On Patriarchate of Antioch

    There are three Patriarchs based on Damascus and one at Beirut and another at Bkerké. The Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East form Eastern Orthodoxy which is from Greek Antiochian Orthodox Church is the most legitimate claimant.

    The Jacobite Patriarch is a section of schematics which got separated from Roman Catholics and Orthodox in AD 451

    There are other three Patriaches who hold claim for the same title, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East of the Syrians, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East of the Maronites and Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Alexandria, and Jerusalem of the Greek Melkites.

    Infact the Jacobites from Middle East call the Kerala Jacobites as converts from 16th century and none of them has claimed that Jacobites hold any privilege in Kerala.

    2.Legitimate Claimants

    I don’t think any faction can claim to be legitimate continuous inheritor as all of them has shifted allegiance. The Romans claim on Malabar is much better than the Jacobites claim, if we consider the overall Christian schisms.

    There is a similarity in both the claims. Often the claims are made by the apologists in Kerala. I don’t know about any Romans from Vatican claiming they hold privilege in Malabar from ancient times. Same is the case with the Jacobites in Middle East. But we have Nasrani’s who call their legitimate mother church as Nestorians and at the same time trying to fake out their new shifted alleginece as orginal one.

  14. George Mathew says

    Dera John,
    I am a Marthomite, but I will walk with you all a long way to reestablish ties with our old mother church. If that means ‘The Church of the East’. then so be it.. It is not the name of the church that is important, but from where we came from. This does not mean that there should be a compromise on ‘Reformation’. Reformation is the life and breath. Our Qurbana is symbolic of Reformation.

    That mother church may be corrupt and wrong, but still it is our mother church. We owe a strong loyalty to that church. I wish other Marthomites will share my view.

  15. John Mathew says

    Dear NJ:

    1.” On George Menachery’s work, can you share with us about the works of any works of Jacobites in St. Thomas Christianity from neutral point of view ?”

    No I can’t. I don’t take Kerala Church historians seriously, as a rule.

    2. “The Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East form Eastern Orthodoxy which is from Greek Antiochian Orthodox Church is the most legitimate claimant.”

    Sorry, try again. The Greek Antiochian Patriarch and the Syriac (Monophysite) Patriarch come from the same source, and split over the Mono/Miaphysite issue. There is no way of imposing an order on who is “more legitimate” a claimant. The Syriacs maintain the oldest monasteries and churches, as well as the old liturgy, however.

    3. “I don’t think any faction can claim to be legitimate continuous inheritor as all of them has shifted allegiance. The Romans claim on Malabar is much better than the Jacobites claim, if we consider the overall Christian schisms.”

    I agree with the first sentence.

    The second is ridiculous. The Romans are Western Christians. The East and West Syriac Churches are brothers. A Nestorian has more in common with a Jacobite, culturally and historically, than with a Roman Catholic.

    The only people who would consider your statement regarding the Roman claim … are Catholics.

    Personally, I think no one has a legitimate claim to being the “original church”. Why? Because your brothers — the Roman Catholics — destroyed the original Church.

    4. Regarding the Chaldean Church in Kerala (the COE faction). Yes, what you’ve written is well known. The COE in Kerala comes via a schism from the Syro-Malabar. Your point? The only thing this demonstrates is that good fruit can come from poisoned trees.

  16. John Mathew says

    1. “Other than Syro Malabar Church is there any St. Thomas Christian denomination which these days celebrate a Syriac Qurbana ?”

    What are you talking about?

    Many Jacobite/Orthodox Churches celebrate Syriac Qurbana.

    Try again.

    2. “I appreaicte the idea of reading it in Syriac. Is that a practical solution ?”

    Why not? Syriac is extremely easy to learn.

    3. “I certainly don’t think that Latin traditions are bad”

    I don’t either. I am a devotee of many Latin saints. I just hate the revisionist history put forth by their historians. Their faith? I agree with Bar Hebraeus … the differences between the Nestorians, Jacobites and Catholics are merely dogmatic and have nothing to do with the common faith.

  17. John Mathew says

    1. “The Greek Patriarch of Antioch … broke off from Roman Catholics in AD 1054.”

    Try again. What is now called the Roman Catholics and the Greek Orthodox used to be part of an undivided Church. They separated in 1054. That is how an unbiased observer would say it.

    What you’ve written (that the Patriarch broke off from the RC) is partisan, and untrue. The RC were not the original main Church. The split occurred because the RC introduced a *CHANGE*. Now then, who is original: the one who introduced a change or the one who resisted it? Try to think about it for a second.

    2. “The Jacobite Patriarchate of Antioch is another section of Schematics ( based on your Schematics definition) which broke off from Roman Catholics in AD 451.”

    Same argument. Who is a schismatic: the one who maintained the original faith, or the one who introduced a dyophysite distortion?

    3. “The Church of the East was an independent, free Church, never subject to the Pope (since the heresy of Papal Primacy only occurred rather recently). Can you elaborate on this ? Don’t just write stories if you have some issues with any denominations.”

    I have no issues with any denominations. I dislike the introduction of silly partisan junk in a discussion. I am Orthodox, but I don’t make an illusions as to how my Church was the oldest in Kerala — there’s no evidence for that, and so I don’t advance that.

    I only wish the RC, who are aliens to Asia (apart from the Maronites), would be as fair in their discussions.

    If you want more info on the independence of the COE, you can go and find that info from any reputed historical source. Regardless of what I write, you wouldn’t accept anyways.

    4. “What is the propaganda in that ? Syro Malabar Church is not an alien church. It is the Church of around 60 % of the St. Thomas Christian population and the mother church of Chaldeon Church of East in India.”

    The SMC is as alien as the Orthodox Church in Kerala, the Mar Thomite, etc. They came about due to the influence of foreign missionaries. The only difference? The Orthodox Church was at least spawned by Easterners—the Syriacs. The Catholics (all three of ’em): came from the Europeans.

    60% is a nice convenient number — but if, as you say, the Jacobites/Orthodox can’t do a proper headcount, then how can you make that assertion? The SMC may be in the majority on the coasts, but inland? I doubt it.

    “Mother Church of the Chaldean”

    That’s a distortion. The so-called “Chaldeans” of Kerala (the COE) have the same faith as the original church (the COE). Yes, they split off from the SMC—but that is only because the SMC is a split from the original COE. A case of two wrongs (schisms) making things right. Schisms are bad … but when a schism reverses the pollution of another schism … it can be good.

    Enough semantic games. Let’s try some Logic here:

    a) the Syro-Malabar Church is under the Pope
    b) The Church of the East was never under the Pope
    c) The original Church was, based on the evidence we have, under the Church of the East

    SMC != COE (due to a and b)
    => SMC != original church

    The SMC may have come from the original church, but it is NOT the original church.

    1. Jacob says

      Dear John,

      I know this is a very old thread, but i have to make a small correction in what you wrote. The Syro Malabar Catholics, who make up > 60 % of the Saint Thomas Christians are majority not just along the coast, but also in the interiors. Infact, the majority of the SMCs live in the interiors, such as in the Eastern half of Kottayam district (you won’t find any Puthencoors in this region. Its is exclusively Pazhayacoor. This is where the Catholic dominated Kerala Congress (M) has firm foothold), Idukki district, and most of Trichur district (note that Irinjalakkuda – Chalakkudy – Trichur town etc are interiors. And again, no Puthencoors here). Also, all the migrant farmer settlements in North Kerala qualify to be interiors regions, and those farmers are almost exclusively SMCs.

      The Puthencoor belts may be of a large geographical expanse, such as the continuous belt from Chathannur (south of Kollam) up to Kottayam town. (But Changanasserry – Kuttanad pocket, as a purely SMC region breaks the continuity in between) but the density of Puthencoors is very low in this belt, as it is evident from the fact that they don’t dominate the socio-political scene there. Of course Thiruvalla town is an exception. Another example for a region with high Puthencoor density is the Piravom – Koothattukulam – Kolencherry – Mulanthuruthy belt in Ernakulam district, where the Jacobite faction stands united. But if you take the SMC belts, they are almost always the majority, and enjoy socio-economic and political dominance.

  18. John Mathew says

    Dear George,

    When Mar Thomites go to new areas where there are no other Mar Thomite Church, where does your Church recommend you go for your spiritual needs?

    An Orthodox Church? A Catholic Church?

    No. The Anglican Church.

    Unless things have changed and this is no longer the case, this is at least a small point that indicates where the bias of your church lies.

    My Church (the Orthodox) recommends in the following order:
    1. another Oriental Orthodox Church
    2. any Byzantine Orthodox Church or a Roman Catholic Church
    3. stay at home and pray … don’t go to a Protestant Church …

  19. John Mathew says

    Dear George,

    I personally would not go back to the COE. My ancestors have been Orthodox for several generations and that is what I follow. I could care less that my ancestors further back were from the COE. If they really cared about things, they would have told the RC missionaries to get lost — but they didn’t and they suffered from their lack of a spine.

    As far as I’m concerned it was the COE’s mismanagement (the hereditary succession garbage that polluted our Archdeacons as well) that led to its disintegration as well as that of our Archdeaconate. Nowadays … they’re a tribal church for the Assyrians. I’d have no place in it.

    I respect them. I use some of their prayers.

    But I’m bona fide Oriental Orthodox, and would not join the COE.

  20. George Mathew says

    Dear John,
    Our place is with our ‘family’. We live together and die together. I guess this is a basic human value. For that sake, it is better, we go back to our roots. You would have noticed that I often focus on the roots. It is the belief that unless the foundation is right, all super structure built will be wrong.
    The COE may have much wrong but yet it is our mother church…….

    If you go to Dubai and live with your good freind “Kurian’ who is a Pentecostal, will you become a Pentecostal or become one close to the Pentecostal faith?
    No! you still remain an ‘Orthodox’ Syrian Christian.
    I do agree that the Marthoma Church possibly recommends us to go to an ‘Anglican’ church and not to a Orthodox Church or Catholic church but this does not mean that we are Anglican/Protestants. We share certain things in commen, the same way you share the most important thing ‘Jesus’ with the Anglicans/Protestants.

    There is the true story of the Canadian govt. refusing to give a visa for our priest to go to Canada on a temporary job posting. The Canadians were telling the Marthomites ‘You say that you are in communion with the Anglicans, so then why do you need Marthoma priests in Canada? Anglican priest are enough for you!
    All persuasions failed and the Canadian’s refused a visa. Then our Bishops got involved in the matter and after much discussions, the Canadians saw the light that the Marthomites are very different from the Protestants. Now the matter is solved and visas are issued for the Marthoma priests. There are certain things which can’t be discussed in writings or public speaking. You must grasp these.

    Moreover, do you think a self respecting person would barter his ancient Syrian Christian faith to be under the Protestant banner? If this has happened, then I must know more about this. I will agree to the word ‘Influence’ but not ‘convertion to Protestantism’.

    While I was reading ‘The Lost Tribes…’ it struck me that Prof. Abraham Malpan would have also read it as he was a scholar in Theology/religion. The book says the the Nestorians were very close to their faith to the Protestants while having no connections with the Protestants. The way things were then, they may have never seen or heard a Protestant.

    Boy! you used the word ‘tribals’ for the COE. I rather trust a tribal than the sleek sophisticated savy intellectuals. His god is his own strength. Dearest John, the sleek intellectuals are almost always pragmatic and they stink. I trust the dogmatic hilly billy whose only stink is the one from his unwashed physical body.. He smells good after a nice bath. Was this not also Yeshua’s theme?

    But I admit that the best would be a judicious mix of the two but that is very rare.

  21. Xavier Kalangara says

    Dear Friends

    I think the discussion has become argumentative. That will get us nowhere. It is fair to make objections and put forth arguments. Beyond and before everything else let us keep in mind that the body of Christ i.e the Church is broken and Jesus is weeping. If our discussions is without love we will not be soothing his wounds but adding to his scourges.

    Dear John Mathew

    There is a strong antipathy among the eastern Orthodox Christians against Catholics. Reasons are historical (imperialistic) rather than matters of faith. For instance Orthodox priests are sent to Protestant seminaries but they would never be sent to Catholic ones (today this is possible – Chingavanam metropolitan took his doctorate from Vadavathoor “Paurasthy Vidyapeetam” an SMC seminary) although the faith of Catholics and Orthodox are almost identical but the Protestant faith is by far removed. I love the Eastern Orthodox for steadfastly preserving their faith and traditions. But it was this antipathy to Catholics is breaking this church into fragments. You must realise that our (Eastern Catholic’s) grievances against the Portuguese (not Catholic church) is as strong as your grievances against the ‘Roman’ Church. The Latin liturgy though entirely and equally valid as eastern liturgies is devoid of beauty. Eastern liturgies are capable of transporting one to ecstasy.

    I want to answer the questions you raised against my comment but that is of no use. We can put forth our arguments and if you think there is truth you should be open to them.

    Dear George Mathew

    Nestorian faith is not close to Protestantism at all. Nestorian belief is different only in that they believe that Jesus has two natures viz. human and divine both distinct and unmixed.and Mary is addressed as the “Mother of Jesus” not as the ‘Mother of God” as both Catholics and Jacobites do. The antithesis of this is the “Monophysitism” of the Jacobiltes who say there is only one nature in Jesus which is a mixture of divine and human. Both these were called heresies but the late Pope John Paul II held extensive dialogue with both Patriarchs (Mor Zakka Evas and Mar Dinkha) and signed separate joint Chrisological declarations in which it was agreed that there was no heresy in both churches but the differences were purely in matters of terminology. In fact the COE, the so called “Nestorians’ were never Nestorians in the sense of the term in which it was used. It was rather ascribed to them. If you go through history now with this new perspective you will realise how politics influenced all these.

    You still seem to have allegiance to retired Mar Chrysosthom! Marthoma metropolitan today is Mar Joseph.

  22. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear John,

    “The SMC may be in the majority on the coasts, but inland? I doubt it.”

    Could you please elaborate a bit more about this ?

  23. John Mathew says

    Dear Xavier,

    I agree with your statement. It is absurd that the Orthodox go to Protestant seminaries when much more relevant Catholic seminaries exist. I feel a lot of the problems faced by the Orthodox (as another writer mentioned, the infection of Protestant thought amongst the common people) would be solved if our Priests would be educated in Catholic/Orthodox seminaries.

    I personally have nothing against the Roman Catholics; I go to Catholic churches, and venerate Catholic saints. However, I do have a problem understanding the so-called Eastern Catholic churches. These churches used to be free Churches — I can’t understand why anyone would deliberately decide to subject themselves under another prelate. I have no problem with the Pope. However, he is the Pope of Rome and the Churches that derive from Rome. The Eastern Churches do not derive from Rome.

    Now that really isn’t a problem, since I believe people ought to do what they wish. If one wants to join Rome, join Rome. But at least acknowledge that by joining Rome, one is doing some new, i.e., introducing a change. However, the revisionist histories put forth by these people to, seemingly, assuage their discomfort for “switching” allegiances is nauseating.

    Anyways … you’re right. This is getting argumentative, so I’ll stop.

    Dear M. Thomas Anthony,

    I just expressed doubt, that’s all. Personally, I never met too many Syro-Malabar around the areas that I frequent and that I’ve explored in Kerala, so I expressed doubt that the inland population of SMC exceeded that of the Orthodox/Jacobites. I could be wrong, but until I see a proper headcount, I won’t put much stock in figures. At any rate, I don’t care about population. Personally, I wish the Orthodox Churches (Jacobite/IOC) would purge themselves of the Protestant deadweight that is currently screwing us up. I can’t go to a single church and not hear the nauseatingly disgusting sound of a bloody keyboard and a choir infecting the old songs with putrid Western tunes. If the Orthodox Churches could just prune down the membership to get rid of these latent Mar Thomites, I’d be happy.

    What would really make me happy … would be if the conservative factions of the Syro-Malabar and the conservative factions of the Orthodox/Jacobites would unite in some manner, so that we could have the old Syrian rites done properly without any infection…

  24. George Mathew says

    Dear John,

    Why do I notice Jacobite/Orthodox boys often marrying Marthomite girls, it is never the other way around. This is a msytery I am unable to solve. I did ask some for their opinion. One or two answres I got was that Marthomite girls know more songs and often are in the choir and that they know theri bibles well.

    I will not be insuled or pained by anything you write. I am in my heart a very orthodox person. More orthodox than you can imagine.

    By the way, for the bitter herb for Passover/Sad Friday, I learn from my wife that the Jacobites use ‘Bitter gourd’. So I plan to have some. Ampravil Achayan’s receipe did not mention anything about bitter gourd. You too must drink some. Send me a photo of yours to me. YOu are interesting.

  25. John Mathew says

    Dear George,

    It’s no big deal for an Orthodox boy to marry a Mar Thomite, as the girl will convert to Orthodoxy (note: that the Orthodox church requires a Mar Thomite bride to be re-baptized (in a sense)) and the family will remain Orthodox. However, a Jacobite (or a Catholic girl) will only rarely marry a Mar Thomite, because the Jacobite/Catholic would have to convert to Mar Thomitism—which would be difficult for the Orthodox/Catholic family. However, it does occur: my cousin was a hardcore Orthodox girl, but she married a Mar Thomite…

    George, I have no doubts about your Orthodoxy … you’re probably more Orthodox than I (as I have Gnostic tendencies…). I’m sorry if my argumentative style was ever offensive (which, knowing you, probably didn’t offend you anyways!).

  26. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear John,

    Actually, SMC is majority in inland. There are mininal SMC presence in costal areas. Only place where Orthodox are majority is the district of Pathanamthitta. May be trivandrum but the syrian christians in Trivandrum are migrated population. Quilon is another district where SMC presence is minimal. After the coonan cross oath, there was some resettling after the conan cross oath and almost 2/3 of syrians joined the SMC fold.( because of the propaganda/fact that the Bishopric of mar Thoma I was not legitimate and Parambil Chandy methran was consecrated as a bishop in the SMC fold) I think after that a few churches were added to Jacobite fold with the help of British- eg, Puthuppally church etc. (I don’t have time to refer for details about it now, but i will do it later)

    BTW, there is an interesting article in Deepanalam “about the celebration of passover supper. See the link – http://www.deepanalam.com/j3f6.htm ( but it is in malayalam)

  27. Itty Varghese says

    Dear George Mathew

    I think the marthomma church’s origin was the result of the Malayalam bible introduction in Kerala Another reason was certain Latin customs which were creped into the Jacobites church after the Portuguese period .But today’s marthomma church went too far from what Abraham malpan and others ever imagined .Though the church maintained a west Syrian out look, members are extremely protestant in beliefs .A good percentage of them are regular with some Pentecostal organizations and church is not doing anything to stop this duel membership system. In Maramon convention the sight of an American/European pastor is sitting in the middle of marthomma bishops (in west Syrian vestments) is really pathetic .

    If it is Pentecostalisation that is affecting mathomma church ,it is protestantisation in Orthodox church .The reason may be the large number of Marthomite women who were married into the Orthodox church without any fundamental change in their denominational understanding. This coupled with the priests educated in Serampoor seminary will complete the picture.

    After some time most of this Marthoma-pentecost and orthodox –protestant will be full members of the Pentecostal organization .Leaders of both the churches are not much cared

    In another side the syro-malabar church is facing the threat of increased laicization from the Latin educated priests .

  28. John Mathew says

    Dear M. T. Anthony,

    Okay, thanks for the clarification. I’d still like to see real numbers, but I’m not surprised by the SMC’s majority. After all, in the Middle East, the Chaldeans exceed the Church of the East, and the population of Maronites and Syrian Catholics exceed that of the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox.

    Regarding the SMC population in Kollam, however, I have a question — is there any reason for the lack of a big SMC presence there? I have always been puzzled by the concentration of the East Syrian rite in the Ernakulam-Kottayam area, but not in Kollam. Is there a reason for this?


  29. John Mathew says

    Dear M Thomas Antony,

    Yes, please provide some info on Puthupally Church! I’m a devotee of that Church and would be very interested in learning some more history about it.

    All I know is that there was an earlier Church dedicated to Mar Behnam there, but it was demolished (for various reasons) and reconstructed in St George’s name.

    By the way is Mar Behnam a saint of the Syro-Malabar as well?

  30. George Mathew says

    Dear Itty Vargheese,

    If there are western or Ethopian Christians sitting in Marmon podium, then I am very happy. There is no Christianity without ‘brother hood’. If your church does not have some kind of communion with westerners, then something is serously wrong. We are all humans and in the Christian analysis there is no western and eastern.

    What you say as a weakness is really strength. I am against the bad sides of western culture but not against the good sides of western culture or Christianity. I will quote Robert Frost ‘ Hate what is hateable, love what is loveable and you got to have the brains to know the difference between two’.

    If you say that it is wrong to have westerners sitting on the Maramon podium, then you are also saying that the Pope of the RCC must always be a Keralite.

    Blind hating of all that is western is stupidity of the higherst order .If we abondon all western then we will be left with all eastern things like Al Quada, RSS, castism, sati, Islamic fundamentalism, untouchability, dictartorships, tyranny, lack of free press etc.. There must be a balance and the problems of attaining that balance are huge. It will need great skills and knowledge to do so. It is really very complex.

    Gandhi was Indian and Hindu to the core but he also had strong western influence. His famous remark to the British ‘ I would have been a Christian if not for you Christians’ says volumes about the influence of the west upon him. He used all western, Chineese, Hebrew, Latin etc. knowledge for the betterment of India. This is how one should be and not cut of the west totally.

    We must be pragmatic while at the same time being tradtional. Which means we must take the good from the west and throw out the bad from the east and then make a mix.

    Our country’s name ‘India’ is Greek in origin and the greatest hero of the Syrian Christian is also the holder of a greek name, namely George. The name ‘Christ’ is Greek and Greek is the mother of all the west.

  31. George Mathew says

    Dear Itty,

    You are clubbing the Marthomites belied and understanding of ‘First Century Christianity’ with ‘Protestant movement. The Marthomite is no fool he knows not to blindly ape the west in his protestant beliefs. From what I understand the Marthomite is following First Century Christianity. You msut move away from the mindset of equating First Century Christianity with Protestant movements.

    The Pentecostal movement was the ‘sole property’ of the USA. Today the Malayalee has taken over. He is the ultimtae Pentecostal. No USA, no German or anyone can beat the Malaylee Pentecostal. I am no Pentecostal but I will boldly say that there is nothing wrong being Pentecostal or being a Roman Catholic. There are thousands of wonderful Pentecostals.

    If the Marthoma Church is suffering because members are leaving her, then she should examine herself and bring about needed reformations. Whaterver the reformation, it must be more and more bible based,ie Orthodox as I will put it. This means no women priests, no abortions, etc..

    If the Marthoma Church is loosing members because some want women priest and abortions, then do not stop those who are leaving. They are welcome to leave.

    It is true that many have ‘dual memeberships’. But I am not worried about this. I am more concerned about the wellbeing of the person or the individual rather than the Marthoma Church. This is a complex thing to understand. I go to the Messainic Jewish service and also to the Marthoma Church. I need both and so I can understand others who have dual memberships. If I can find a Church of the East in Calgary , I will go there too!

    To be honest, I am not going to any church for the past two months as I am doing some much needed parttime work to make some urgent much needed money.

  32. Itty Varghese says

    Dear George Mathew

    I don’t hate anybody. I was just thinking from the point where you said marthoma church is not protestant but orthodox. I also hope it to be true. It produced great men like sadu kochunjupadeshi.

    But the problem is when they give such an importance to an American protestant /evangelist, whom an average marthomite consider as one with a dubious spirituality, what is the message it is sending to the common folks . The issues of those churches, ie, abortion, gay marriage, divorce, premarital sex etc are no issues for an eastern church. It considers these issues as sins and nothing else. Today’s Protestantism is always associated with such issues. I know that the marthoma church is not protestant in that sense. Then what is the requirement of this western communion ?

    The other things you mentioned (RSS, Al Quada etc) are not the products of eastern Christianity. The only militant group in the history of Christianity ,the crusaders ,are from the western Christians. The real name of St. George was Kiwargis and if westerners changed his name it was not our problem.

    We can always adopt the good things from the west but never the western spirituality.
    Malayali Pentecost will be the ultimate one because he got the eastern spirituality and western money .. He is also the ultimate hypocrite .He consider all other Christians are from Satan and only they are the god men. He is also keeping himself isolated and deals with his own tribe only.

    I don’t know whether things like abortion are debated in marthoma church .If it is, then it may be because of the contacts with the western protestant groups.

  33. John Mathew says

    I concur with Itty Varghese on a few points: RSS, al Quada, etc, are not representative of the east. Christianity was originally an Eastern religion, as is Buddhism, Hinduism etc. Ideas of democracy also have parallels in the East.

    However, Gewargis is most likely a Syriacization of the Greek name George. No big deal, either way. Back then the distinction between west and east was not like it is now …

    Finally, it’s all nice to say you are a follower of “First Century Christianity”. In fact, many of the Protestants and the so-called “Restorationist” movement in the west makes this (ludicrous) claim. We *do not* know what first century Christianity really was. If we did everything would be much simpler, with less pretenders and charlatans going about and preaching that they are such.

    The only thing we know is that the traditions of the fathers of First Century Christianity live on only in the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and the Assyrian Church.

    The Protestants (and allied peoples, like the Mar Thomites, Pentecostals, etc) explicitly cast off the holy tradition, replacing it with Protestant innovations.

  34. George Mathew says

    Dear Itty,

    I see your points. They do make sence. I too hope that the Marthoma Church will have more of her Eastern heritage like Syriac and Hebrew tradtitions.

    I think it calls for new leadership, mindset and direction. But rememeber, we must have fellowship as far as possible with the West, Africa and Korea. We can not divide the ‘body of Christ’ like the way we did in the past. The divisions we made were often for personal and political reasons.

  35. George Mathew says

    Dear John/Xavier,

    Me think that the name India springs from the Greek word ‘Indica’ and not from the Persian word ‘Hindu’.

    I am pretty sure of this, just check when you get time.


  36. George Mathew says

    Dear Xavier,

    I understand that the The Chaldean Church – Trichur (Assyrian Church) is under the Syro Malabar Church, which inturn is under the RCC. Am I correct?

    If correct then the Church of the East with is the mother church of the Chaldean Church -Trichur is also under the RCC. Am I correct?

    I am sincerely hoping for the Church of the East to remain independent and not be under the Anglicans or the RCCs. It looks like I may be disappointed.

    When one watches/attends Evangilical Christian programmes on American TV, it is evident that the Jewish Christians hold the sway. Even the very popular (and very controvertial) Benny Hinn kind of portrays a Hebrew connection (I may be wrong and beg to be corrected). Many other leading evangilists are having Jewish connections. Messainic Jewish memeberships are growing and many non Jews are attending their services.

    There is a strong possibility that the future is Jewish Christianity. This is good for us. Our Syrian Churches should now start moving in this direction too! We are naturally adapted to this provided we have the desire/will.

  37. George Mathew says

    Dear John/Itty

    We do have reliable information of what was First Century Christianity from the Bible. Please tell me one thing that the Marthomites are ‘holding/not holding/practising/not practising’ which is against the NT.

    I will fully agree that in practise, traditions are lesser than the Orthodox/Jacobites etc.. This is wrong. But mind you even the Orthodox/Jacobites are woefully behind several traditions too!!! It is really like the pot calling the kettle black.

    If there are unpleasant thing for you to write, you may write to me in person through my hotmail account,

  38. John Mathew says

    Dear George: I’m not Xavier but I can address this …

    “I understand that the The Chaldean Church – Trichur (Assyrian Church) is under the Syro Malabar Church, which inturn is under the RCC. Am I correct?”

    1. The “Chaldean Church” in India is the Indian branch of the Assyrian Church of the East, which is not under the Syro-Malabar or the RCC.

    2. The “Chaldean Church” everywhere else is an Eastern-rite Catholic Church composed of former Church of the East faithful who decided to unite with Rome in the 16th and later centuries. They were protesting some degenerate practices of the then Church of the East like hereditary succession of Patriarchs.

    3. Having said this, it should be noted that the “Chaldeans” of Kerala are actually former members of the Syro-Malabar who, after unsuccessfully trying to become a part of the Chaldean (Catholic) Church (#2 above) but being refused by either Rome or the Chaldeans, decided to unite with the old (non-Roman) mother Church: the Assyrian Church of the East. But like many things in India, they screwed up the name and kept the “Chaldean” (which, in everywhere other than India, usually designates the Catholic schism from the Church of the East).

    Hence, your question of whether the Church of the East is under the RCC has a negative answer: nope! You don’t have to be disappointed in anything other than the fact that the nomenclature is screwed up.

    Finally, Syriac Christianity is not Jewish Christianity. The Assyrians are a non-Jewish people who accepted Christianity en masse (more or less) in the first centuries after Christ. There may have also been Jewish converts in their midst, but, like the Greeks and the Copts, the Assyrians were not Jews!

    Well, maybe that last comment was not final … here’s the final one … Benny Hinn and the rest of the (ahem) charlatan false teachers of pseudo-Christianity may like to intersperse some Hebrew or Aramaic or whatever into their preaching/speaking in tongues — BUT that does not make them Jews/Jewish Christians or whatever. I have a Protestant uncle (a Mar Thomite) who likes to say Syriac … but that does not deny the fact that his faith is un-Syriac due to it’s “reformation”. Pretending to be something is far different than actually being that thing…

  39. John Mathew says

    Dear George,

    The Orthodox and the Catholics have ample evidence, based on the Bible, to support their practices, faith and traditions. To claim that only the Protestants with their “reformation”—done in the 15th century—have a claim to Biblical authenticity is weak and wrong.

    The Protestants like to claim that the Catholics and the Orthodox have introduced distortions and that the Protestants have removed the distortions. Well, how can a 15th century movement claim to be truer to the original than the far older Orthodox and Catholics? This makes no sense, unless the Protestants claim they have new scriptural evidence—which they don’t. They may be searching for it … but at the end of the day, the oldest scriptures are those possessed by the Orthodox and Catholics, and it is those scriptures that found the basis of the Orthodox/Catholic Church.

    Finally, you say: “But mind you even the Orthodox/Jacobites are woefully behind several traditions too!!!”

    To be blunt: nope! Sorry, try again.

    One thing the Mar Thomites do not do that is un-biblical: they do not honor/remember/conduct Qurbono for the dead. Another thing: they fail to honor Mary via the simple prayer (Hail Mary) that is fully based on the New Testament. There are plenty of treatises/polemics written by Catholics and Orthodox theologians that go into the inner details of Protestant defects—if you want to understand those, you can grab a book off Amazon on the topic.

  40. George Mathew says

    Dear John,

    My knowledge about the Church of the East is derived heavily from Dr. Grant’s book. I admit giving that book a weightage that I am really not comfortable with. By that book the COE is Jewish7Hebrew in origin.
    This COE was the mother church of us St. Thomas Christians in Malabar. I am not sure if they excercised high involvement as India was so far away in ‘Unknow Pagan Country’. As far as I and a few others are concered we St. Thomas Christians are Hebrew in origin./main root. The greatest Jewish authority (Prof. Nathan Katz) on such matters (approved by Israel) has confirmed this. Admissions do not come easily on such matters from a Jewish researcher.

    I will agree with you that all Syrian Christians need not be Hebrew/Jewish in origin. But remember the quote I told you about the Syrian Christian Archbishop of Turkey (or near about) who proffessed that the Syrain Christians are the family of Yeshu and his kith and kin. YOu must know that even the COE was most reluctant to admit their own Hebrew/Jewish heritage for the same reason that today’s Orthodox/Jocobite is reluctant to admit that the Marthomties are his brothers. Don’t you kind of distance us, pushing us away towards the ‘Western Protestants’ as if we bring great disgrace on the other Syrian Christians? (Admin. please note that you need not worry, as John and me will be air our dirty linen in public).

    Apart from the hostility of the COE towards their own Jewish/Hebrew brothers due to the above said reason, there is also the very great fear of the Christians in the Middle East to totally distance themselves from anything Jewish. Anything associated with the Jew means ‘DEATH’. I am a terribly extroverted and outgoing person and itneract with many people, particularly those from the Middle East and Ethopia. I can read the dislike in the eyes of a muslim (Arab or Persian or Turkish) when the word Jew is mentioned. The Christian even if they are Jewish will not even tell this ‘leprous’ word to their own children, lest they talk in their sleep and a muslim hears. Such is their fear. In effect they have diswoned their own heriage. I have so many intersting things to say, but their is no time and space.

    A Syrian Christian from Syria (who incidentally looks much like me) would not even want me to talk to him, lest his girly freind who is an Egyptian muslim will know more about him than what he has told her). I homed into him as I felt his forehead shape is very similar to mine. A silly move but turned out to be very informative.
    If you deny what I have said above, you must explain why the very senior Syrian Christian Archbishop went public and told the world that the Syrian Christians are the family of Yeshu. This was in HIstory Channel, Canada.

    I do agree that there are Christians of Arab or Turkish or Persian background in the world, but they would have shifted loyalty to other churches and not remained in the Syrian Christian Churches. The lives of many innocent men and women/children are in danger and so even the Middle East Church leaders will not readily come forward with their Hebrew heritage.

    I am repeatedly told by Christians from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine etc. that they are not discriminated. I feel that they are afraid to tell. Only one Coptic Christian told me that they are being persecuted. Please understand what is ‘FEAR’. It is real and we fear so that the lives of our dear ones are not snuffed out.

    I have overheard a Pakistani tell a Gora that in Pakistan the Christians enjoy good status. What lies! In Pakistan the Christians are less than other people.

  41. George Mathew says

    Oops, I forgot to mention, I will quote what the Syrian who looks like me told me ‘… there has been so much of animosity over the past several centuries between the Christians and the Muslims, that even the smallest issue is enough to bring about further deadly developments… each have not forgotten what has happened in the past, though each choose not to mention it…..’. When Christinasn and Muslim fight they kill each other. …And today the Christians in the MiddleEast are so much in minority that they would not even dare to scold a muslim.

  42. John Mathew says

    Family of Yeshu?

    No offense to clerics, but they don’t exactly have the best record of making scientifically accurate statements.

    I can accept that we, the followers of the Syriac tradition (whether in Kerala or in Mesopotamia), have Mesopotamian ancestry. That is demonstrated, scientifically, by the presence of the J2 haphlogroup among us. But Jewish ancestry? That needs a bit of work to prove. Some may have the “Cohanim gene”, but this does not make one necessarily Jewish because non-Jews have it too. But I can believe that some Malabar Christians have Jewish origin, because I believe that a large portion of the Jews of Kerala converted to Christianity to avoid persecution by the Muslims. But to say that all Syriacs are Jewish? This is a broad statement that begs proof.

    And that some cleric said that they are of the family of Jesus (on the History Channel no less) is not proof. It is a typical grandiose statement that us Orientals are often too inclined to make.

    Proof my friend — show me the proof!

    (Again … not to be antagonistic to the idea. I like the idea, in fact. It corroborates much of what I’ve learned from my fathers and fore-fathers through various ancient letters that my family preserved. … But it’s weak corroboration. My problem is this: when I go and talk to scholars and historians, I can’t just cite some priest or bishop from TV. After all, priests and bishops are good for performing rites and making basic sermons, but—despite the educational “qualifications” that many claim to possess—they are *not* scholarly people: they are dogmatists, and they toe the party line. Just read Assemani, the Maronite historian. Much of what he writes is good, when it is concerned with Syriac history; but a lot of it is of an often-juvenile polemic nature when issues of the Melkites vs the Monophysites vs the Catholics come up. I need to have real evidence that an objective third party would accept. So I ask these annoying questions and express doubt.)

  43. Kukku says

    West & East syrian liturgies. What is the difference between west & east Syrian liturgies ? One is called St.James and other as St. Addai and Mari. How two liturgies derived in Syriac ?

  44. John Mathew says

    You’ll find an exhaustive survey of West and East Syrian liturgies in Wikipedia.

  45. Admin says

    Dear All

    This article need re drafting. It should include all the versions of each denominations, arguments and counter arguments in an ecumenical perspective, at the same time providing more justice to facts and records which can be verified . Its impossible to achieve brotherhood with out discussing about what caused divisions, what each one believes and where every one stand now.

    I read the critics of John Mathew, NJ and Cheriyan and all. Inviting opinions of those interested. There are things which every one can agree to disagree but that’s not something which should prevent us from detailing and discussing the different views and opinions.

  46. John Mathew says

    Can anyone explain why the Church of the East (“Chaldean/Assyrians”) and the Syro-Malabar Church do not have (at least based on my observations) a significant presence in Kollam district? Is there a historical reason for this, is it just a quirk, or am I wrong and the East Syriac rite is strong in Kollam?

    Thanks for any insight!

  47. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear John,
    When the Nasrani church divided into puthencoor and pazhayacoor after coonan cross oath, the division was a bit geographical, depending upon the leaders in the region. In some region, the whole parishes moved to one party. As there were no leaders for the pazhaycoor in the southern kerala- south of changanacherry, all the nasranis moved to puthencoor. Changanacherry, kottayam area, the division was split- we can see both parties. Palai, kanjirappalli, kuravilangadu etc, most of them are pazhayacoor. Koothattukulam, movattupuzha, kothamangalam, perumbavoor angamali- again we can see both parties. Further north, Iringalakkuda Trichur etc, most of them are pazhayacoor.We can see pockets of puthencoor in between. The small minority of syro malabar in kollam are actually migrants.

    As you know, Church of the east was formed from pazhayacoor later – meloos- rokos schism. Melusians were prominent in Trichur. Due to the efforts of Bl. Chavara Kuriakose Ealias, most of the Rokos schismatics returned. Later the same people joined with Melus and Nidheerikal Mani kathanar influenced them to return. ( Chavara and Nidheeri both realised that another split in pazhayacoor would make them weak among the nasranis and in front of the Portuguese.)Trichur was a strong hold of Melusians and Nidheerikal Mani Kathanar had to stay in Trichur for long time to persuade them to return. Only a small number of people remained with Melus under the leadership of kandanattu Anthony kathanaar (from palai).That is why, the Church of the east- chaldean church has presence only in Trichur.

    Thus, Nidheerikal Mani kathanaar was the only person responsible for the strength of pazhayacoor in Trichur.When Adolf Medlicot became the first bishop for Syrians in Trichur, the first thing he did was to evict Nidheeri from Trichur !! (Nidheeri was from Kuravilangadu)

  48. John Mathew says

    Dear M. Thomas Anthony:

    Thanks for your reply.

    However, what I still can’t fathom is how, effectively, every parish in the south would move to the West Syriac rite. Wouldn’t at least *some* of those families have a desire to retain the East Syriac rite? Since the Pazhayakoor were numerically stronger than the Puthenkoor, I would think that they could have spared a few leaders to influence the southerners.

    In the north, as I understand it, several families were split, e.g. Pakalomattam, during the 17th century schism of the Pazhaya- and Puthen-koor. Why didn’t something similar happen in the south?

    From what I’ve read, in the past the Nasranis were administered by bishops in north Ernakulam (Angamali, Kuravilangad, etc.). How is it that the southerners got the direction to reject the Portuguese modifications and embrace the West Syriac alternative? There would have been two legitimate “heads”: the Vicar Apostolic representing the Eastern Catholic Pazhayakoor, and the various Mar Thoma bishops (after Mar Gregorios legitimized their position) representing the Puthenkoor — how would the southerners have decided which one to support and listen to? I find it rather strange that they would *all* support the Mar Thoma bishops.

    The only hypotheses that I can propose are:
    1. The Portuguese had no power in Kollam and the south and so the influence of the Mar Thoma bishops was unhindered. But this still doesn’t explain why *all* those communities rejected the Vicar Apostolics of the Catholic Church: at best, the two heads would have been in an equal position with respect to their legitimacy and so I would expect at least a 50/50 split.

    2. The communities of Kollam are all just migrants from the north. Specifically, they are the descendants of families in the north that split from the Pazhayakoor and decided to relocate. But this can’t be true because there are rather old Churches in the south that predate the 15th century.

    I can’t figure it out … any help?! (Again, what bugs me is how homogeneous the southern groups are! This is unnatural for us Eastern Christians — we generally have a strong tendency to split up!)

    Thanks again.

  49. John Mathew says

    Regarding the Synod at Diamper:

    I was reading a Jacobite article a few days ago that mentioned that during the Synod at Diamper it was observed that both East and West Syriac were in use in various places throughout Kerala at the time.

    Now, I don’t buy this … mainly because (1) there is a vested interest (the Jacobites want to establish the antiquity of the Syriac Orthodox faith in Kerala) (2) I’ve never heard this before and (3) I’ve never read the decrees of the Synod in sufficient detail.

    Are there any experts out there who could confirm/deny this for me? Thanks!

  50. Alphy says

    “The Decrees enacted on the last day of the Synod of Diamper according to: K.P. Padmanabha Menon 1914. Session IX

    Decree. 1. The synod forbade customs like bathing defilement – Bathing the dead body – sitting the married couples in ring formed of rice- taking a thread while cutting cloth – taking one or two grains and putting back in the measure.
    Decree II – Untouchability – in areas where there are Nairs or in areas where Nairs are likely to knowuntouchability was permitted – In all other places and in Portuguese areas untouchability was banned – In south Travancore, Christians bathe when touched by Nair. As it was shameful to Nairs, it was banned.
    Decree III – The superstitious custom of cleaning the well supposed to have polluted by low caste people
    disapproved in the synod.
    Decree IV – Synod forbade participation in mortal combats using bows and arrows etc.
    Decree V. – Synod disapproved the custom of deeming women to be impure for 40 days after delivery of a male child and 80 days in case of female child.
    Decree VI. The synod strongly reprobated the practice of Omen, recourse to Poojaris, Horoscope, Signs witch craft, astrology etc.
    Decree VII. Synod forbade the customs of conducting offerings in temples, cock sacrifice and similar things
    Decree VIII . Synod banned using “Rakshas’ and Manthrams on bodies, in the house and fields.
    Decree IX. The synod forbade collecting interest more than 10% with the usual practice was only 10/100 per year.
    Decree X . Interest should not exceed one percent per month with or without proper security.
    Decree XI. Synod forbade harassing the slaves and dependants.
    Decree XII. Synod strongly reprobated selling and buying of children.
    Decree XIII. The disputes among the christians should not be taken to Pagan kings. They must be got settled through Bishops, as was the practice
    Decree XIV. Testing by ordeals like, holding on red-hot iron, or dipping palm in boiled oil or swimming across a river infested by poisonous snakes or Crocodiles should not be done.
    Decree XV. Men should not wear earrings nor do they lengthen the earlobes.
    Decree XVI. The Synod ordered to put a stop to drunkenness mainly excess of arrack.
    Decree XVII. Synod dealt with weights and measures. Uniformity in weights and measures was insisted.
    Decree XVIII. Inheritance to women. In the serra, women could not inherit. But synod ordered equal right to women.
    Decree XIX. Adoption. The synod discouraged adoption of other children particularly when there are children.”

    Decree 18 and 19 seems to be different in different sources

    I found these and more details about the decress at http://www.keralacoastfate.com/portugese.pdf

  51. Alphy says

    “The total number of decrees according to Dr. Scaria Zacharia is only 173. Dalit Bandhu, N.K. Jose states about 248 decrees. D. Ferroli in Jesuits in Malabar describes 265 Decrees (CCLXV).

    There are only 19 decrees in session IX according to Dr. Scaria Zacharia, whereas there are 23 according to D. Ferroli. Padmanabha Menon who seems to have followed the Portuguese script, describes 19 decrees excluding the instructions to the vicars.

    A decree on Adoption of children (Decree 19) given by Padmanabha Menon is absent in the text of Dr.Scaria Zacharia.

    There are two decrees on concubines in D. Ferroli, while two decrees on fast and fasting in Mananam Script .The decree on offering to church is absent in Scaria Zacharia.

    It seems that Decree 22 of D. Ferroli is split into two decrees (9& 18) in the Mannanam script followed by Scaria Zacharia. The reasons for splitting that decree are obvious.”

  52. Alphy says

    The link does not show the decrees enacted in the other 8 sesssion. Only the decress that dealt with social issues. Any more online links out there for the other decrees?

  53. Admin says

    Dear John & Alphy

    The following link Geddes , A short history of the Church of Malabar has a table of contents of the decrees of the Syond of Diamper followed by a detailed discussion on each decree.


    Based on my understanding Syond of Diamper talks only about East Syriac and I don’t know about the references of West Syriac observations.

  54. JEEVAN PHILIP says

    Dear John,Antony&All,

    The split among MALANKARA NAZRANIES and their demographic analysis cannot be done on the basis of todays church population.This is because at the eve of coonen cruz oath,the so called split was not a split rather a feeble minority went under ROME .Carmalites and other missions from Rome started work among MALANKARA NAZRANIES(not only). One should concider the demographic pattern at the time of split and after a hundred years later.The Romo Syrians number was increased after a considerable effort by the missions.Offcourse,what is a mission?

    To find the answer to John’s quiry we must consider
    1.motivation for the split.
    2.work of katholic missions
    3demographic studies over a period of 200 years
    4.church architecture
    5.cultural&social differences of these two groups.

  55. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear Jeevan,
    I agree with you. I have pointed this in my previous postings. Vast majority of nasranis joined the Coonan Cross oath, but most of them returned to Roman side because the Archdeacon- Mar Thoma I did not have a legitimate Bishopric. Again, due to political reasons, the portuguse were forced to consecrate Parambil Chandy methran as the Bishop for Pazhayacoor in1663. At this point, there were two power points- Mar Thoma I and Parambil Chandy metran, both trying to get more support among the Nasranis. Of course, portuguese helped the pazhayacoor. For example, my own parish church-Champakulam church (estd AD 427) became affiliated to Pazhayacoor probably only in 1659- after the Coonan cross oath- because of the order of the king of Purakkadu that all Christians in his kingdom should obey the Portuguese bishop Garcia- by the influence of the then Portuguese general. Representatives from Champakulam and Kudamaloor visited the Pope’s representative in Alengadu in 1659 and became affiliated to the Roman side.
    Another reason is antiochianisation. Even after the synod of diamper, Pazhayacoor could preserve their old liturgy of Addai and Mari (with some modifications- but the Qurbana was sung in east syriac and the common people were unable to understand the changes as they were not fluent in syriac. But the Puthencoor had to change their liturgy to Antiochian-that was also with resistance and hence it took many years- a couple of generations.

    We have to think about the timeline of ther Nasrani history also.
    AD 1498- Vas co d agama in Kerala.
    AD 1510- Poeruguese Franciscan missionaries in Kerala
    AD 1597- last Chaldean metropolitan, mar Abraham dies.
    AD 1599 Udayampeeroor Synod
    AD 1653- Coonan Cross oath
    AD 1663- palliveettil Chandy metran was consecrated for pazhaycoor.
    AD 1665- Mar gregoriose arrives in Kerala- introduction of west Syrian rite
    AD 1772- Mar thoma VI was re ordained as a priest and Bishop as Mar dionocious- full antiochianisation of Puthencoor.
    AD 1778- Mar Kariattil and Paremmakkal thoma kathanaar- travel to rome for reunion of nasranis.

    If you look at the timeline, between 1599 and 1653,( between the synod of Diamper and Coonan cross oath,)- 54 years- all the nasranis were latinised and was following the latinised east Syrian liturgy of Addai and Mari. Someone who was 18 yrs old in 1599 would have had a personal problem with latinisation etc. But the children at that time and those who were born after that, – those who were under 64 years in 1653, they were brought up in a latinised way for 54 years and Coonan cross oath was something just following the older generation or the leaders. There was no change in the liturgy and traditions, so why bother ? ( Now, it would be clear why the label Puthencoor !)

    Even after Coonan cross oath, the Puthencoor community was also using east Syrian liturgy and tradition for a long time until full antiochianisation, which was gradual, over many years-( probably until 1772 when Mar Thoma VI was renamed and reconsecrated as Mar Dionysius). That means, after the synod of diamper, probably until 1772- it took about 173 years for the gradual changeover to Antiochian way.
    (Untill the antiochianisation, even the leaders were on different parties, our communities did not have much division and even priests from either faction were accepted each other as they were using the same liturgy*. I think, antiochianisation made a big division between Puthencoor and Pazhayacoor.)
    (* I can see from the history of my own parish church in Champakulam- in 1676, one Anthrayose kasseessa from the puthen coor faction was resident in Champakulam church for a long time before moving to kallada.. He became known as kallada mooppan later. This shows that even Champakkulam church was on the Pazhayacoor faction, they could accommodate a Puthencoor priest without difficulties- this also shows that both communities were using the same liturgy at that time. )

    Another reson for mass acceptance of puthencoor faction in the south is the fact that the Mar Thoma I- VI were based in South. I think, Mar Thoma VI was based at Niranom whereas Parambil Chandy matran was based at Kuravilangadu or other vicar apostles based at Angamali- Ernakulam etc.

    The Pazhaycoor, even they submitted themselves to latinisation due to various reasons, they were also unhappy about latinisation and they continued their fight to get reverted back ( until 1962 when Rome ordered the SMC Bishops to go back to pre diamper and introduced the restored liturgy in syriac replacing the latinised syriac liturgy) This fight also kept the people together in the Pazhayacoor faction.

    As I have mentioned earlier, Majority of Nasranis joined Coonana Cross oath but therer was some resettling after that which resultes in majority in pazhayacoor.According to the statistics at the time of parambil Chandy metran, among the 110 nasrani churches, 64 were fully under Parambil Chandy metran, 20 parishes divided, and 26 accepted the Mar Thoma I.
    The recent statistics is as follows- from various resources.
    Syro malabar 35 lakhs
    Indian orthodox- 25 lakhs
    jacobites 12 lakhs
    (Because of the split in various parishes, IOC and jacobites may be counting same heads twise)
    Mar Thomites- 7 -9 lakhs
    Syro malankara- 4-5 lakhs
    latic catholics- 15 laks

  56. Itty Varghese says

    Dear Thomas Antony
    After the split the presence of the Portuguese /Romans were maximum in the areas around Vaikom-Kuravilangad belt. Vaikom was the head quarters of Arch Bishop Menesis and Cochin was the Portuguese centre .However this influence was almost absent in the south.

    This also shows that most people returned to pazayacoor side after the split because of the force exerted by the Portuguese and not because of the talk about the legitimacy of Marthomma I ‘s ordination. This rumor should have reached the south also.

    There were many churches in the south which disobeyed the Roman decree and did’t participated in the synod of diamper (eg.Kalloppara church).A close examination of the events of the late 16th centaury and 17th century will reveal that the real puthencoor –pazayacoor division occurred in the synod of diamper and not at the Coonen kurishu..The majority who participated and accepted the Roman/Jesuit authority in the synod were the puthencoor and the minority who didn’t participated ,the pazayacoor.

  57. John Mathew says

    First, I think the Pazhayakoor/Puthenkoor division is about rites, and not about authority. In terms of authority, all sides, Puthenkoor and Pazhayakoor accepted new authority: the former accepted the authority of a new Patriarch (the Patriarch of Antioch who, prior to the 16th century, had no documented dealings with the Nasranis), and the latter accepted the authority of a new Pope (the Pope of Rome who similarly had no ancient dealings with the Nasranis prior to the arrival of European missionaries).

    Pazhayakoor refers to the fact that the Syro-Malabar Church and the Church of the East retained the old East Syriac rite and language, while Puthenkoor refers to the fact that the Orthodox/Jacobites adopted a new rite and language (the West Syriac).

    But Itty wrote something very important that hits at something I’m trying to understand. If Mar Thoma I’s ordination was a significant problem with the Nasranis then I would have expected the Nasranis *all throughout Kerala* to be split. Yet, the split only really occurred in the North. Why were Kollam, southern Alleppey and Pathanamthitta spared from schism?

    I really can not understand this because I feel the Pazhaykoor side had a valid (and fundamentally important) point: regardless of their acceptance of a new authority (i.e., the Pope) and somewhat newer customs (Latin-infused ones), they have maintained the old rite (despite the modifications). Yet, despite this, there is no significant Pazhayakoor side in the South. Am I wrong? Do they exist? If they don’t, why not? Or, if today’s demographics are a poor reflection of matters (as Jeevan said), was there ever a time when the Pazhayakoor existed in Kollam, and if so, what happened to them?

    M. Thomas Anthony made an important point regarding the fact that the Pazhayakoor and Puthenkoor were, until the 19th century, pretty much using the same language and liturgies (e.g., Mar Dionysius of the Orthodox Church’s personal liturgical book had a fusion of Catholic, Chaldean, and Jacobite rites). So, when Antiochization finally completed in the 19th century, why didn’t any of the Puthenkoor in Kollam revolt and return to the East Syrian rite? Come on! Our people are known for their schismatic spirit and their ability to fight over nothing at the drop of a hat. Going from East to West Syriac and from Mar Adai/Mari to Mar Yacoob is a *big* jump—why was there no fight over this? Is it that our people just fight over the simple, trivial issues?

  58. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear John,
    East syriac to west syriac is a big jump. It is a jump from Thomasine liturgy to a non Thomasine liturgy! ( some consider jacobite liturgy as an apostolic liturgy but the original jacobian liturgy was modified significantly with the greek influence to form the current jacobite liturgy) But it happened gradually- over many generations. And over this period, just like Portuguese infused latin ideas into Pazhaycoor, the antiochians infused their ideas into the Puthencoor to make these two communities wide apart! Both these foreign churches kept on doing this- to avoid a reunion. Both the latins and the antiochians considered our nasrani traditions wrong. That was why both wanted us to change- purify us.( antiochians wanted Mar Thoma VI reconsecrated as a priest and a bishop and to change the name mar Dionysius- I think the title Mar Thoma was very unique and appropriate !)) Both considered us as nostorians even though we were not. Portuguese wanted to latinise us, but Pazhayacoor did not accept latin liturgy and the Portuguese had to compromise by making some modifications only, on the liturgy of Addai and Mari. Antiochians wanted to antiochianise us and they succeeded by changing the Puthencoor fully into antiochian liturgy. That is why, I consider the label puthencoor correct to the antiochianised community.
    Again, how many of IOC/ jacobite nasranis know that our ancient litugy was east Syriac ? See the effects of antiochianisation !!

    I think the southerners did not split because the Mar Thoma I-VI were based at Niranom. Even in the North side, north of changanacherry, the Puthencoor presence is only pockets. Churches around Manarcaud church, further north, churches around Kothamangalam etc. I think these are due to prominent leaders in the area. For eg, in the Pazhayacoor, Rokos and Melus schism were very prominent in changanacherry and Kuravilangadu but due to the local leaders’ efforts- Chavara Kuriakose and Nidheerikal mani kathanar- there were no split in those area but only in Trichur- Chuch of the east

    Dear Itty Varghese,
    I can see your argument regarding the Puthencoor Pazhayacoor division. See my argument above.
    As you have suggested, there are a few churches who did not participate in the synod of diamper. Was that because only the prominent churches or prominent leaders only attended the synod ? Or was that a decision of the parish not to participate ? Were there any documents ? Again, even though, Kallooppara church did not participate in the synod, did they really resist latinisation and modifications of liturgy by Portuguese ? Please educate us.

  59. John Mathew says

    Dear M. Thomas Anthony:

    You won’t get any argument from me regarding the Pazhayakoor/Puthenkoor nomenclature.

    Okay… I think I can work with your proposed theory that the southerners didn’t split because the Mar Thoma bishops were based in the south … I gotta read some more, and might have some questions again.. Thanks for your comments!

    Three (minor) comments in the meantime:

    One small question: you refer to Roccos and Melus as a “schism”. Weren’t they trying to bring the Syro-Malabar *closer* to the original Church of the East roots, and away from Catholicism? Why use the term schism in that context?

    Also, I don’t want to start debating liturgies … but the Liturgy of Saint James (whether the Greek or the Syriac version) is an ancient liturgy, and along with the Liturgy of Mar Adai/Mari is far older than any other liturgy that’s being used. If you wish to start doubting it’s apostolicity then one may as well start doubting the apostolicity of every other rite that’s currently used! Moreover, attributing Adai/Mari to Thomas is a stretch: why don’t scholars term it that? As well, the Indian Orthodox Church does acknowledge that the liturgy in Kerala prior to the arrival of Mar Gregorios Abdul Jaleel was that of Mar Adai and Mari, and that the liturgical language was East Syriac. The Jacobites acknowledge the same, but with reservation (since no one really knows what was what pre-8th century, they include the possibility that the Jacobite liturgy also existed back in the mists of time).

    Finally, I wouldn’t put “Antiochization” on the same level as “Latinization”! The Latins were late comers to Christianity, unlike the Syriac peoples. And the East Syriacs and West Syriacs are a related people; their Churches are related as well (I mean the *original* Churches: the Church of the East and the Syriac Orthodox Churches). The Puthenkoor, while leaving the East Syriac language and liturgy, still maintained their “Orientalism:, in many ways to a greater degree than the Catholics, who, by accepting European Latin customs, switched to an entirely different cultural background.

  60. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear John,
    I would have agreed with you if, the pazhayacoor accepted latin liturgy and bacame Roman catholic. But they did not. They joined the Catholic fold keeping their oriental traditions and liturgy, as a separate group. Even from the beginning itself, there was separate leadership and authority- even they where under latin bishops for some time, there were separate vicar generals etc for the pazhayacoor, and the parishes were different-separate.

    Whereas, the puthencoor merged fully with the antiochian church accepting their liturgy and traditions. That is why I use the term antiochianisation. On what ground you comment that the pazhaycoor accepted latin customs and culture ? I think you are a bit confused. In kerala, there are real Roman catholics- the latin catholics. They are using latin liturgy and latin customs. Parallel to that, the Pazhayacoor are keeping their oriental identity.
    Regarding Rokos- Melus schism, I need some more references.

  61. George Mathew says

    Dear John,

    When Buchanen visited a Syrian church in Travancore, he later wrote that he observed ‘Greek influence’ in the service. This was a perplexing for me as to how Greek influnce came into the Jacobite Church in Malabar.

    But the comment by Mr. Thomas Antony may give the answer,

    ‘…..some consider jacobite liturgy as an apostolic liturgy but the original jacobian liturgy was modified significantly with the greek influence to form the current jacobite liturgy) But it happened gradually- over many generations’

    You may remember my earlier comment that many of our bishops have Greek sounding names. This can also be attributed to the above.

  62. John Mathew says

    Dear George:

    This is no mystery–it only highlights Buchanan’s own ignorance of ancient Christianity (like most Protestants…!).

    Greek influence permeates *all* of Orthodox/Catholic Christianity—even the Assyrian Church of the East (who have anaphoras honoring the Greek fathers). I believe most of the fathers of the old Nicene Church were Greek, followed by Syriacs/Orientals, followed by Latins. I don’t know if this is an ethnic or a linguistic thing, however; there were probably many Syriacs who spoke Greek and Latin as their main languages due to the influence of Greco-Roman civilization and power. And there were probably Greeks living in Edessa who spoke Syriac. Like with the Ayran/Dravidian thing, the terms may only refer to language and not “race” (what is “race” anyways …?).

    Now, as to whether the original liturgy was in Greek or Syriac, there are a variety of opinions and theories. None are infallible … it’s just like the theories on whether the Gospels were originally written in Greek or Syriac. Some say Greek, others say Syriac—both have facts to back up the arguments. But regardless of what was the original tongue, the fact remains that ancient Christianity had a variety of influences, including Greco-Roman, Syrian/Semitic, even Persian, Zoroastrian, and Egyptian.

  63. JEEVAN PHILIP says

    Dear John,Antony&All,

    When Portuguese landed MALANKARA ,they were very much happy to found a group of people who called themselves MALANKARA NAZRANIES and worshiped YESU&MARIYAM. They had not much allegiance to any authority in Christendom except few foreign prelates occasionally visited them in Christian love and took large amount of money. Those had more intentions stayed back and tried to involve in their temporal matters which dignified nazranies resisted. They had hardly anything in common with rest of the Christendom –no mammodisa,no kumbasaram etc. They allowed any foreign prelates visited them to use their PALLI for worship and participated in it without knowing a word(sarva dharma sama bhavana).They used to boast about their origin and ST.THOMAS-their father who taught them the way. They used Aramaic in their worship without knowing much about it’s significance .The prelates came later lost their Christian love and started using them for benefit (money, power, trade).This often ended in conflicts and divisions. This continued without much changes while the great colonialists arrived searching for spices found a treasure in the form of MALANKARANAZRANIES.

    To gather spices , they need to compete with Arabs&Jews who captured the trade from nazranies .They wanted an alliance with indigenous/trained people in the trade in order to get their share. They found a fine prey. They said that they were Christians and they would protect us from any Heathens or Muslims .Your belief and ours are same and you should align with us .One or two dealings resulted in great benefits made Nazranies a perfect prey. Next, they associated in their belief and worship which resulted in discussions and arguments .The white men started to show their real colours .Our way is right, not yours; you are corrupted with your pagan /Hindu/Jewish beliefs .You continue to name your children Jewish names, practice uncivilized customs, your priests marries ,you have relations with our enemies .You respect every one which is not permissible in our Christendom .Our theology is better than yours and non corrupted .Majority of naduvazhis are in our pay roll. This is what led to DE AMPERITANA SYNODO.

    Now discus about the split keeping this in background; The ROME wanted to subjugate MALANKARA NAZRANIES because we became nazranies –followers of YESU much before Christianity developed in ROME ,Antiochians wanted to do the same because they were in great need of money(oil was discovered much later )Chaldeans also did the same because they were running pillar to post in their own land.

  64. BENNEY says

    Now It is the Pazhayakoor whoare far away from suriyani culture .They adopted new customs like Manasammadam for marriage ,building churches in the name of latin saints like st francis xavier ,sebastianos,etc ,kontha prarthana ,novena etc. prohibition of marriage for priests ,and introduction of kanyastree madoms
    all these are alien to the suriyani christianis in kerala

  65. BENNEY says

    Dear Jeevan,
    your comment MALANKARA NAZRANIS worshipped YESU AND MARIAM is not digestable
    Nasranis respected and should respect MARIAM but never worshiped her .
    before arrival of portughese malabar had cultural and trade relations with foriegn nations
    if nazranis have no religion why Malik ben dinar who spread Islam in kerala not convert these people into Islam

  66. JEEVAN PHILIP says

    Dear Benny,

    I used worship in collective sence-respected,I am not quite sure about the worship patterns of nazranies during early centuries.As far as foreign relations concerned,I did’nt say that. Nazranies have no religion! Sir did I say that?

  67. John Mathew says

    Dear Benney:

    You’ve made some interesting points regarding the Pazhayakoor — however, since I’ve never lived in Kerala I was unaware of them! My main observations on the Syro-Malabar Catholics are from my friends in North America who are quite “Latinized” in their observation of Christianity … I see very little difference between my Latin Catholic and Syro-Malabar Catholic friends (and for that matter, my Syro-Malankara friends!) over here in the West, except for some of their names.

    But on another issue … No one in Christianity “worships” St. Mary! In Orthodoxy and Catholicism, she is revered as the Mother of God. In the Assyrian Church of the East, she is revered as the Mother of Christ.

    In effect, however, all four old Churches (Church of the East, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholicism) respect St. Mary quite similarly. To say that one (e.g., the Roman Catholics) “worship” her, but the the other (e.g., the Church of the East) does not, is not accurate: they are all very similar in their reverence of St. Mary.

    The Protestants, of course, are another matter. Their views on St. Mary are not as strong as the former four, and range from respect to indifference. A common statement by the Protestants is that the Catholics “worship” Mary; however, that stems from their general ignorance of true Apostolic Christianity.

  68. Jackson says

    Dear Mr. Benney,

    Your comments are just one-side of the coin when speaking of practices of the Pazhayakoor group and its relation to Suriani culture. Well now what I will comment on, is for the entire Suriani Christian community (all Nasranis) whether Pazhayakoor or Puthenkoor.

    Among Suriani Christians (of whatever denomination) we all know very well that a plethora of Hindu pagan customs and practices (some even unacceptable to God), at almost every aspect of religious and social life, existed and still exist and I’m not enlisting them here for want of space and time. So now say, what have these customs and traditions got to do with Suriani (Syriac) Culture ? Or for that matter, how do these find space in Christianity because we are Christians first, then Suriani Pazhaya or Puthenkoors, as the case may be which is not a very old division. Neither Christ nor the apostles nor the Persian/Church of the East with which we had ecclesiastical and communal relations gave us these pagan customs and practices/beliefs, then why should these exist among us been followers of Christ ?

    So been Christians and expected to adhere to Biblical traditions and the Christian Apostolic way of life Aren’t the paganized side of us Surianis alien to our Apostolic culture and Syrian Christianity !

    So I would like to call the latinized side of the coin and the Hindu paganized side of the same coin as gradual ‘Inculturation-effects’, of a more older coin called ‘Apostolic faith’ which was originally handed to us thru’ the apostle Thomas himself.

    I’m sorry, if I sound harsh. But true Christian life is not the way it appears today and if we really desire to see true ‘Syriac Christianity’ then most probably we will reach to the early ‘Semitic Christianity’ called ‘The Way’ or Margam as in our ancient traditions, the very reason for which we were persecuted/tampered upon with, down the centuries from various quarters. How many are prepared to shed the Unchristian things (Latinized/Paganized) and come back to originality ?!

  69. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear Benney,

    The Puthencoor- Pazhayacoor terminology should be approached with the perspective of the past ! The matters from the perspectives of today and in AD 1653 are very different.

    As I have mentioned in my previous posting, at the time of the first division of “Mar thoma Nasranis”- the Coonan Cross oath, the whole mar Thoma nasrani community were latinised for 54 years- nearly a generation. Considering the longevity of life at that time, we can consider most of the people were brought up in a latinised way. Now, in the aftermath of Coonan Cross oath, one group split away from the communion and made a new allegiance with the antiochian church and the other group remained status quo.

    On this context, it will be common sense to label the status quo party as Pazhaya coor and the other group as Puthencoor. After 172 years of the Synod of Diamper, in AD 1772, on completion of Antiochianisation , the Puthencoor party failed to keep their liturgy and liturgical language and had to take another liturgy and new customs. Move from Thomasine to non Thomasine liturgy. –whereas the Pazhaycoor were successful in keeping their liturgy of Mar Addai and Mari and the liturgical language of east Syraic. Now, the labeling of Puthencoor and pazhaycoor became more appropriate.

    Now, today, both parties have changed. I think, the Pazhayacoor became more latinised under their Nasrani prelates than their previous Portuguese prelates. Our own prelates did what Menesis could not do. With their urge to gain the titles of arch bishop and Cardinal, they moved the community more towards latin side- “rajavinekkal valia rajabhakthi !!”

    I have read that when Rome asked for return to old east syriac liturgy, our own prelates wrote to Rome that we are happy here now with the current situation. The early leaders of the CMI- Chavara Kuriakkose, Palakkal Thoma Malpan etc were also instrumental in bringing many western rituals into the Pazhaycoor community.

    I did not know that there is no manasammatham(betrothal) among IOC/ Jacobites before marriage. Initiation of the orders of nuns etc are new among Pazhayacoor. Also celibacy of priests. But in Puthencoor also, Bishops are celibate!! They also have nuns now. They have canonized saints and may have novenas etc. Kontha ( Rosary) among pazhaycoor in a part of latinisation.

    Puthencoor have lost many traditions like Passover supper etc. So, both parties have changed now. But the nomenclature should be viewed on the context of that time. I can underdstand, after many generations of split, the new generation cannot grasp these nomenclature.
    Regarding the comments of John Mathew.

    As far as I understand, Rokos and Melus were catholics. They were part of the Chaldean Catholic church. They were trying to win the Pazhayacoor for the Chaldean catholic church. It was something like an indiscipline in the church and hence- schism. If anyone can give more information about this, please post it.

    Again, it is widely accepted that the four Thomasine churches are- Indian, Chaldean, Persian and Edessan. All claim that they are St Thomas Christians. Among these, it is believed that Indian and Persian were founded by St. Thomas the apostle himself and Chaldean and Edessan churches were founded by Mar Addai and Mar Mari, who were disciples of St Thomas . All Thomasine churches were using the liturgy of Addai and Mari.

    I cannot digest Jeevan’s opinion that the east Syrian bishops were just visitors. There are evidences that they were resident in here for long periods and we were using their liturgy.

  70. John Mathew says

    Dear M. Thomas Anthony:

    Regarding passover supper: I believe that is not a function of Pazhayakoor/Puthenkoor but a function of geography. There are Orthodox/Jacobites who most certainly celebrate the passover, and they are usually found in the northern (and more conservative) parts of Kerala.

    I’m not so quick to say that the Liturgy of Mar Mari and Adai is the only liturgy of Thomasine Churches. For example, there were non-Nestorian Syriacs in Persia who, rejecting Nestorianism, were under the Jacobite Catholicate of the East; they used the Liturgy of Saint James, yet, like all Eastern Christians (i.e., East of Edessa!) they looked to Saint Thomas as their founding father (as Bar Hebreaus, the Jacobite Catholicos, says). The lineage of the West Syriac Catholicoi of the East begins with Mar Thoma, through Mar Adai and Mari. Then, with the Nestorian schism, the lineage diverges from that of the Church of the East. The point: the West Syriac tradition does contain *a* component that do look to Mar Thoma *just as much* as the East Syriac tradition. And the Puthenkoor, before even directly communicating with the Patriarch of Antioch, were communicating with the Eastern Catholicoi of the Non-Nestorian Persian Church (Mar Baselios Yeldho, Mar Baselios Shakrullah, both of whom died in Kerala). These prelates were as much “descendants” (spiritually) of Mar Thoma as any prelate of the Church of the East.

    I don’t see how aligning with the West Syrian Patriarch is a betrayal of Syriac Christianity! After all, ever since the Melkite Churches of Antioch (Catholic and Orthodox) left the Syriac tradition for the Latin and Greek rites, there have been only *three* authentic Syriac traditions: (1) the Church of the East, (2) the Jacobites, and (3) the Maronites (and, historically, it is unclear whether they were an independent strain, or just a schism from the Jacobites, whose split is lost in the mists of time). Going from East to West Syriac is a big difference, but it is still far smaller than accepting several ecumenical councils that the original Church never accepted (i.e., by accepting the Pope and becoming under the Catholic fold, the Syro-Malabar must have accepted all of the councils after Ephesus — something the original Church of the East never did). At the end of the day, the East and West Syriacs are, essentially, brothers — unlike the Western Catholic Church.

    Now as for Rocco and Melus: yes, I’m aware of their Chaldean (as opposed to pure Church of the East) lineage. *However* the Chaldeans were at least *closer* to the original Nasrani Church than the Syro-Malabar were. Rocco and Melus at the very least were trying to bring the old Church of the East’s descendants in India closer to the COE. And, their net effect was to spark a trend that resulted in some of the Syro-Malabar Church eventually re-establishing contact with the Church of the East. I find that to be a great positive contribution of Rocco and Melus. So yes, they were schismatics, but they were schismatics of a schism!

    I agree, however, that Jeevan’s comments are not accurate. I don’t see the Syriac prelates who came to India as being the same as the Roman Catholic Portuguese missionaries: the former were our brothers (genetically as well as culturally and spiritually), the latter were foreigners in every respect.

  71. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear John, Jackson,

    Let me show you a small bit of the Syro Malabar Qurbana in the following link- you tube


  72. Jackson says

    Dear Mr. M. Thomas Antony,

    “I have read that when Rome asked for return to old east syriac liturgy, our own prelates wrote to Rome that we are happy here now with the current situation. The early leaders of the CMI- Chavara Kuriakkose, Palakkal Thoma Malpan etc were also instrumental in bringing many western rituals into the Pazhaycoor community.”—- ur comment.

    Were our prelates who wrote that as u said to Rome really happy with the current situation then or was there any ‘pressure’ from whichever quarter ? I doubt how true it could be ? Could u please post a reference which says Rome ‘really’ asked for return to old east syriac liturgy and we unanimously rejected then the opinion. What could be the reason, im interested to know because though tagged ‘Roman Catholic Syrian Christians’, the Pazhayakoor is largely opposed to Latin Catholics in almost all matters till today and this rift only seems to grow by each passing day to speak, practically !

    If we take the scenario today I strongly believe and is true, there is a good majority of Pazhayakoor Nasranis who are dis-satisfied with the latinized version of liturgy and customs, atleast those who know what is originality in been a eastern christian (though a small section in certain pockets in Kerala is more inclined to maintaining latinized ways). So I feel, if sincere attempts are made by the Church leadership to restore the original liturgy it will be ‘largely’ welcomed by the Pazhayakoor section but again this shouldn’t be a reason for any division. Responsible church leaders are reading and taking note of this, I believe or atleast reaches them.

  73. John Mathew says

    Dear Jackson:

    Mar Joseph Cardinal Parecatti of the Syro-Malabar Church said: “That is why, when the question of restoring the Chaldean liturgy was proposed by Rome in 1955, my illustrious predecessor Archbishop Kandathil was unwilling to give his concurrence.”

    The full context can be found by reading Note 2 at the URL:

  74. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear Jackson,

    I do not know whether you are somebody who has never lived in Kerala like John Mathew. If you have lived in Kerala during the period 1986-90s, you would not have asked this question. (You would remember the war between “chaldean” and “paranki” parties in Syro Malabar church- The “chaldean”- those who are for restoration of the pre Diamper east Syrian liturgy and traditions and the “paranki-portuguese”, those who want to become close to the latin church as the latin church is the universal church. They have an excuse in the form of call for indianisation. )

    In 1988, when Pope John Paul II visited Kerala, he celebrated the fully restored Syro Malabar Liturgy at Kottayam. After that there was a big agitation in the Ernakulam- Trichur area aginast the restoration- even they burned the Mar Thoma Cross under the leadership of some Priests in front of the Syro Malabar head quarters. They are still asking for a westernised liturgy in the name of “indianised liturgy” rather than an east Syrian liturgy, claming that “we are not Eastern Church”, “we are not Syrian church”, “we are Indian”. They claim that majority of Syro Malabarians are on their fold!! On the other hand, Bishops, priests and lay people of Southern Kerala- Changanacherry, Palai, Kanjirappalli etc, were for the restored east Syrian Liturgy. I think most of the people are for nasrani traditions but a few of our latin trained priests and Bishops are for westernization.

    In 1887, Pope Leo XIII recognized the Syro Malabar Church as an individual church.

    In 1896, our church was named as Syro Malabar.

    In 1917, Pope Benedict XV established the Congregation for the oriental churches in the Roman Curia.

    In 1931, Pope Pius XI established a commission to restore the east Syrian liturgy in Syro Malabar Church.

    In 1934, the Syro Malabar Bishops submitted a liturgy to Rome but Pope Pius XI rejected it and advised them that latinisation is not acceptable anymore and asked them to study the ancient form of liturgy and come up with a restored liturgy. Congregation for oriental church continued its efforts for a full restoration, and Cardinal Tisserant and Fr Placid Podipara were heavily involved in these efforts.

    In 1957, a restored version was released and in 1962 on the day of the Dukrana, it was made into practice with part in East Syriac language and part in Malayalam.

    In 1968, the Syro Malabar Bishops decided to celebrate Holy Qurbana fully in Malayalam and they made some more latinisations while translation and an experimental taksa was made into effect for 2 years. But this continued.

    In 1980, Pope John Paul II asked the SMC Bishops to consider fully restored liturgy. The taksa submitted in 1981 was rejected by Pope John Paul II because of the elements of latinisation.
    In 1986, a fully restored taksa was submitted and it was accepted and was inaugurated by the Pope in Kottayam.

    Arch Bishop Joseph Powathil was the leader of these restoration and he was the senior most Arch Bishop and when Mar Padiyara retired, he was about to be appointed as the Major Arch Bishop of SMC and there was a large scale agitation in the northern Kerala- Trichur- Ernakulum belt, personally against him not to appoint him as the head of the church. They played many tactics in Kerala even shaming many of our dirty politicians!! They were succeeded in this and Mar Varkey Vithayathil was made administrator and later became the Major Arch Bishop.

    Thanks to John Mathew for your reference from Wikipaedia about Augustine Kandathil’s efforts to Latinize our church and the good certificate for it by Cardinal Parekkattil.

    From the beginning of the arch diocese of Ernakulam, the prelates were more enthusiastic in moving towards Latin side. As everybody knows, the first Bishop of Ernakulam, Loiuse Pazhzyparambil won the heart of the then Changanacherry bishop Charles Lavigne against Nidheerickal Mani Kathanaar to become nominated for bishopric.

    Nidheerickal Mani Kathanaar was the vicar general at Changanacherry, and he fought for the restoration of pre Diamper liturgy and traditions. He was very friendly with the Puthencoor also and he established the Nasrani jathi aikya snagham for unity of all nasranis. It was his struggles also that forced the Vatican to remove all Latin Bishops from the Pazhayacoor. When the Portuguese was forced out of Pazhayacoor dioceses, they created Ernakulam diocese as the third diocese and installed Pazhayparambil as the Bishop, sidelining Nidheeri, and Mar Mathew Makil , a southist as the bishop for Changanacherry to create tension in Changanacherry which was the strong fold of the people for restoration.( In changanacherry, the southists are only a small minority).

    The curse of Syro Malabar Church is its Latin trained priests and Bishops. Now, things have changed a bit because of the Oriental institute in Vadavathoor.

    You will wonder both the Major Archbishops of the Syro Malabar Church so far are trained as Latin priests. They were ordained as Latin priests even though they are syro malabarians by birth. Mar Padiyara was the Bishop of Ooty, a Latin diocese and was transferred to Changanacherry. Mar Vithayathil was made the arch bishop in the aftermath of the dirty agitations by Ernakulam priests and some bishops to prevent Mar Powathil from becoming the Major Archbishop.

    I gather that Jackson is from Chalakkudi. Have you attended a Qurbana in your local church in Chalakkudi? Go to south. In Changanacherry, the Holy Qurbana is celebrated in the proper way. ( I have not attended a Qurbana in Chalakkudi. But In Ernakulam and Trichur, their Qurbana has only very little difference from Latin mass. I even like the Latin mass than the Ernakulam- Trichur Holy Qurbana.) Dioceses North of Ernakulam have even ignored the instructions of the Syro Malabar Bishops Synod about celebrating the Qurbana. If the member Bishops of the synod cannot administer the synodal decisions in their dioceses, what is the point in them being in that position?

    I think it is time for us, the nasranis to come up with our nasrani heritage. How many are out there to ask the priest to celebrate Qurbana in the proper way?

    Again, John Mathew has commented, he cannot find any differences in Pazhayacoor and Latins in the west. (Let me remind you, there is no Latin Catholics in the west. They are Roman Catholics. The term Latin is applied only in Kerala as the other churches are names on the language of the liturgy Syriac.)

    I agree with you. I have been living outside India for nearly 10 years. Many of the Kerala priests working in the western world are not trained to celebrate SMC liturgy. Many of them are missionary priests ordained for Latin Church even though they are SMC by birth. They are just “reading the Qurbana taksa”. If you come to Kerala and attend a properly celebrated Qurbana in Syro Malabar Liturgy, you will see the difference.

  75. BENNEY says

    Dear Jeevan ,
    worship is very different from respect . I respect my parents but not worship them .
    your comment that ” They ( portughese)said that they were Christians and they would protect us from any Heathens or Muslims , make me confused

    Dear John Mathew ,
    The syriac Orthodox church see mariam as one who gave birth to god ( daiva prasavithri ) and not mother of God . Another difference between orthodox and catholics are orthodox believe mariam is purified by holy spirit before pregnancy ,but catholics believe that mariam is pure herself by birth
    if I am wrong pls correct me

  76. John Mathew says

    Dear Benney:

    “Daia prasavithri” is a malayalam approximation and has no real significance. Greek and Syriac are the languages of Orthodoxy, not Malayalam.

    The Orthodox term for Mary is “Theotokos” (Greek) meaning “Mother of God”.

    The Assyrian term is “Christotokos” -> Mother of Christ.

    Regarding the Immaculate Conception (Catholic doctrine), I believe you are correct: the Orthodox do not subscribe to that view.

  77. BENNEY says

    The latin trained Priests and prelates are really a matter of concern for syro malabar church .

    The restoration of old Liturgy will become an achivement for not only the syro malabarians but for all faithful nazranis . If Rome is not against then it is the Brahmin conversionist who are till opposing that .

    It is the time for a fight for tradition not in the streets but in the minds .

  78. Jackson says

    Dear M. Thomas Antony,

    That post was really very enlightening. And I really wasn’t that updated in political detail because far is the question of mine knowing what happened in church politics in the ’80s or so because I was born only in 1984 ! Yes I’m a young SMC Nasrani and still learning much of our history and politics of course which has marred the former a lot !

    It is really shameful that many are mixing and confusing themselves and others, Indianness (nationality and) with our Eastern Christian identity (atleast in Religious and ecclesiastical terms). And as Mr. Benney said it is more so a part of latinization in the guise of Indianization ! I wonder how does SMC become Indian by becoming Latinized/Romanized, as if to be Indian meant to be a Latin/Roman. So its purely a concept to mislead and confuse the laity by some Church leaders.

    I belong to Kalyan diocese as a permanent resident of Mumbai. But as my native I belong to Irinjalakuda diocese. I have surely attended all these years many Qurbanas at Chalakudi which is not ‘VERY different’ from that here at Kalyan diocese. But the liturgies at both the above diocesan churches are surely different from the liturgy as in Changanassery. I was at Changanassery for 2 yrs. for my PG studies and residing there and therefore I also have attended the Qurbana there, the past 2 yrs., and Qurbana there seems more close to original. And lack uniformities are very much visible and speaks of inconsistencies within SMC itself at all the above places/diocese. So this is a very grave issue though little attention is given to those not complying to the uniform liturgy. It is all been unnecessarily ‘tolerated’ and thats the reason its happening !

    So within SMC there appears and surely exists two groups, no doubt (I dont know who is in what majority and numbers are not my concern). And those favouring the latinization process for whatever reasons may be termed as pseudo-Syrians. These words may sound strong but I guess its time to say ‘Enough is Enough’ and those opposing originality and our past should have their way. That seems not far if discussions become real and politics is desired to be ended with a strong hand.

    We may be sounding divisive (which may be virtual or become real) here but I feel it’s time for a ‘SECOND KOONAN CROSS OATH’ or we will continue to be mislead and remain a confused lot with an identity crisis hanging somewhere between East and West and not follwing fully either of them ! We will never be able to gain back our TRUE HERITAGE just for petty politics ! Those who wish to Westernize and ‘betray’ our ancestors and their faith and heritage may go ahead while the rest may see to it that they restore originality back and then claim we are really a 2000 yr old Apostolic Christian community and first followers of the Way ! It is the former who are dividing the community and thus the threat is within, and not outside is what must be realized !

    I guess its high time to get things cleared out and speak out and let the Church Leadership hear !!!

  79. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear Jackson,

    I am sorry; I did not realize that you are so young. Anyway, you have missed your opportunity to see the real faces of many of our current and a few past Bishops. I was a lecturer in Surgery at Medical College Trichur in mid 90s. I have witnessed big colorful poster war against Mar Powathil personally- “Do not install Mar Powathil as Major Arch Bishop”- on the boundary walls of Churches around Trichur. No one bothered to remove them for many weeks. This itself proves that this had support from the leaders including the then Bishop. (To be honest, the posters were removed from a CMI monastery wall within a couple of days).

    Again many street processions were arranged by Priests in Ernakulam and during a synodal meeting, they burned a Mar Thoma Cross in front of the church head quarters and even a SMC Bishop addressed their rally.

    I do not think these actions were Christian. I have never heard Christian priests burning a cross!!. You would not believe, a famous and senior charismatic priest declared that Mar Thoma Cross should not be venerated!! (http://www.indianexpress.com/res/web/pIe/ie/daily/19980424/11450224.html )

    In Christian principles, “cross” is a symbol. How can a particular cross belongs to Satan and some others belong to Christ?? These kind of priests are still glorified in our church.

    The party for indianisation wants the priest celebrate the qurbana facing the people. I do not think it is Indian. They want the qurbana shorter. They want the qurbana similar to Latin mass which is the official mass of Catholic Church!!! I think those want these requirements better join the Arch diocese of Verapoly!!. They get everything there.

    Recently also there was a meeting in Ernakulam asking for removal of east Syrian elements and adding more latinisation in the name of Indianisation.

    I was born and brought up in champakulam in Kuttanadu. From my memory from childhood, and according to my father’s memory, our church had a veil in front of the altar; our mass was celebrated with the priest and community together facing the altar.

    We have not changed.

    In 1986-87, I had an opportunity to visit a church in Manathavady diocese. I found that they had recently changed their Qurbana with priest facing the altar!! Faithful were in the belief that this is the new restored Qurbana inaugurated by Pope !!

    Even among Trichur and Irinjalakkuda, according to the official website of the dioceses, their photo gallery shows a vast number of their churches hold a Mar Thoma Cross on the top. This proves that faithfull are for restoration, not for latinisation.

    I think, our Major Arch Bishopric should be separated from the Arch diocese of Ernakulam. As Ernakulam in the seat of Major Arch Bishop, Ernakulam priests might lose their chance to become an Arch Bishop. (Not always an Ernakulam man can become the major Arch Bishop.) Ernakulam should have a separate Arch Bishop. We should have a separate seat for the Major Arch Bishop- let it be Angamaly or Kuravilangadu etc. Let the Major Arch Bishopric be freed from the Ernakulam Latinized priests.

    Let us have a single Arch deaconate for all Nasranis at Kuravilangadu rotated between different denomonations !! ( Consider Nidheerickal Mani kathanaar’s Nasrani jathi Aikya samithy as a model )

    I agree with you, it is time for another Coonan Cross oath. The Syro Malabar church was established for the catholics those follow Syrian rite in Malabar. If a group does not allow us to follow the Syrian rite, let them have another Indian/Latin/whatever church!!.

  80. Sebastian says

    Hope this doesn’t lead to a ‘bava-methran’ kind of row inside the Catholic church. Anyway here at Malankara Catholic we still have the same Orthodox style mass and have Syrian Bishops.

    I think that there are better ways of showing Indianness like the Church conducting Yoga classes.

  81. peter says

    The tradition of syrian christians has been rooted in eastern christianity .The chaldean church was only formed in 1533 from a dissent group of assyrian church of East ,and in 1662 Patriarch Mar Simon XIII Dinkha broke his communion with Rome.But sadly this history is never spoken by the Roman catholic priests .It was only when the syrian christians revolted at Portuguese and Pope ,the Pope send a chaldean(a dissent group of aayrian church ) representative to quell the protest.But this treacheary was later realised by syrian christains and they wrote to Antioch to send their genuine East syrian representative.All this history is seldom revealed to the majority Syrian christians who are now under Papal order.

  82. Anoop says

    For those interested in reading, the following site gives some idea on christians
    in Syria.


  83. Anoop says

    These two articles came on Saturday in Hindustan Times which is a leading newspaper in India. Its from Columnist Renuka Narayanan, Hindustan Times. She attended the 2000th anniversary of St Paul’s birth held in Syria.

    The Road to Damascus-


    The Church that came to Malabar


  84. Anoop says

    what does law translate to in Arabic and Urdu?????Qanoon
    what does it translate to in Albanian a balkic European country with majority Muslims?

    Qanun, The word Canon is infact the same as Qanoon ,therefore when you say Canon Law ..you are infact repeating the same word two times

  85. Jackson says

    Dear Anoop,

    I did read both the articles in Hindustan Times. The article ‘The Church that came to Malabar’ has some errors in it u also might have noticed though it gives a generally fine idea of the Nasrani community to the the rest of the communities who may not be aware that such a community exists.

    Certain debatable points are :

    1. “in 345 CE, Thomas of Cana (from Syria) brought the Syriac liturgy and rituals to Kerala in a big way.”

    Is this point proved that it was Thomas of Cana who brought the Syriac liturgy and other related aspects here ? Isn’t this a Southist version of the incident ? And how far is it true that he was from the country ‘Syria’ as it is mentioned so precisely ?

    2. “In 823 CE, another group of Syrian leaders called ‘Mar Sabarisso’ arrived in Kerala”

    Who said they were ‘Syrians’ ? History calls them as Persians or just West-Asian migrants…

    3. “In sum, there are now three groups of Syrian Christians: Syriac-Latin (Malankara), Syriac-Greek (Jacobite and Orthodox) and Syriac-Malayalam (Marthoma aka Reformist).”

    Thats a bit vague ! Where is the Syro-Malabar Church here which is the largest Syriac Church denomination ?

    Certain things like the cultural aspects have been mentioned quite appropriately but in the entire article the Nasrani community is linked to the nation of ‘Syria’ and ‘Syrians’ as a people. Also the various migrant groups are called ‘Syrians’ ! That really gives a mixture of good with blurred info to a first-time totally ignorant reader who may have got it this way that…. ‘Syrian Christians of India are from Syria’ and hence the name ??!!!

    Your comments please……..

  86. Anoop says

    Hi Jackson,
    I admit that some of the matter stated might be wrong….but not all.Since a majority of us are actually not
    aware of our entire roots , some amount of speculation will almost always creep up.
    Syrian some claim,I think the earliest Christians were Assyrians and Jews along with the locals..but
    even this is speculation.
    Thomas of Cana (Kafr Kana http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/MFA/Israel+beyond+politics/Excavations+uncover+Galilee+village+of+Kana+19-Dec-2004.htm) might have brought his traditions….did Syriac as a language exist then or was it Aramaic.
    Come to think of it ,we are a divided lot arent we?????
    There are more divisions than the ones mentioned in the article.
    I had an argument with a friend lately ….I just mentioned the word Latin Catholic in a harmless manner
    (hes Latin Catholic)….he felt I was ridiculing him.All I did was say that when the bishop says to vote for
    this party …they do.In other words I just wanted to say that they were a serious political entity because
    of this.He took it negatively.He lives with my other friends who are Syro Malabar.He feels in a way ostracised .He exploded at me then…I realised then the fact that we are actually divided.I also realised
    the fault lines within Kerala Catholics when he told me how people looked down on him when he
    mentioned the word Latin.My stupidity led to that kind of situation.I felt sorry for myself.
    Im not castist or groupist….infact I used to get a lot of satisfaction going to the Orthodox church…that is
    until some ass from that Church made be feel that I was different.
    Point is ….by trying to understand other rites …some people take that as a weakness.
    The funny thing is till engg I didnt realise that I was a Marthomite.Understanding history is something…
    but understanding history to exclude others …in this case non nasranis Christians is not Christianity and should not be encouraged.

  87. Pramod P says

    What are the reasons behind the split of the Kerala Nasranis..?

    They are as clear as daylight, though many would not agree..

    1. The domineering greed of the Vatican, and her family..
    2. Protestantism, and associated ideologies..
    3. Powerful church leaders in Kerala themselves, with leanings towards their ‘masters’.

    Who suffered in between..?

    The vast majority of the poorer ordinary Nasranis..

  88. thomas says

    What i can realise is that the mother church consisted of a catholicos accountable to the Patriarch of antioch which was undivided at that time. The church which prevailed from persia towards the east of the world was under that caholicos. the patriarch of antioch gave the catholicos of the east the power to consecrate bishops due to political reasons. Therefore the catholicos declared himself as a patriarch by A.D.410. We can only pray that all the thomasine christians be united and administered by a patriarch in india and persia. Both these communities are as old as the other christian communities around the world and were equal in the eyes of the apostles. it is not mentioned that there must be compulsory subordination. all must be equal in power as we are in the eyes of the almighty

  89. Thomas says

    “The entire Saint Thomas Christians were one rite and one Church till the middle of Seventeenth Century.”

    Actually, we are not sure about this. According to what we know about the social organization of St Thomas christians, I tried to defend a different opinion on the subject. I am pretty sure that the christians were divided at that time, at least between southeners and northeners. My opinion can be read online : http://www.uclouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/ucl/images/actualite/7_T._Durant_BABELAO_2_20134.pdf

  90. L M Haddad says

    Your site is most informative!

    One of our pages is http://maryourmother.net/Eastern.html about Eastern Catholic and Christian Churches.

    I am glad to know that St. Thomas Christians were once united!

    What is the origin of the word “Malankara”? Malabar refers to the Malabar coast of southwestern India, but cannot find the origin of the word Malankara.


  91. St.Mariam Magdalene says

    I would want to clear some of my doubts : 1.Why is the syro malabar and syro malankara converting nadars in thukkalay and marthandom dioceses infact of having a latin rite diocese there? Even the bishops of thukkalay is rajendran adinadar and mar vincent of marthandon is Vellalar convert ..How will they call themselves as? Syrian Malabar Nadar Catholics or Syrian Malankara Nadar Catholics?My question is whether Thomasine churches are exclusive for all?Wont this affect the age old traditions of the church?Just because there is an arapally (all members of arapally are malayalees and in the syrian community) of IOC .Wont the new converts claim Thomsine tradition after some years/centuries that even at a time we ourselves dont know who we really where, forgot to mention honnavar mission of Jacobites ,Hoskote mission of Marthomites,Brahmavar mission of Orthodox. 2.Why is the Dioceses of Kanyakumari shared between the 3 catholic rites overlapping creating confusion to the tamil converts who finds the 2 rites other than Latin as Aliens? 2.Why do Syro malabarians adress themselves as RC and not SMC ? And why R.C portuguese converts of the Roman rite call themselves Latin(Latheen) and not RC ? 3.Why do the Indian orthodox claim that they are the original Indian church after “borrowing” the liturgy of Jacobites ? Why didnt they Malayalamise these,if they are really in the throne of St.Thomas Malankara ?(Currently all are claiming this throne) 4.Does the reformation in Marthoma Syrian Church means only a” one time act” or is it continuos? 5.Are all the Syrian Church spilts a result of quarels between two groups/bishops/schisms within the church?Are only they to be called as the split denomination?Or any Syrian who leads the church and becomes a bishop (like K.P Yohannan) are these denominations accepted into the wider Nasrani church denominatioms? If then why is St.Thomas Evangelical Church of India called as a part of the thomasine denomination and the anglican CSI of Madhya Kerala diocese( an exclusive diocese for syrians just like knanaya dioceses are viewed ) are they viewd as Nasrani one? I know there is an inclusiveness and exclusiveness tendency of whether it is or not.Whatis the criteria to be called as “part of split thomasine church” whether it is the “fight/schism” that makes a part of the thomasine schismatic churches or is it a syrian leadership? 5.Why is there no mention of the “Sabha” in the name board of the syro malabar or latin Catholic churches unlike the puthencoors who mentions it clearly.Is it because the majority of the syro malabarians or latins(in that area)? Or is it to be assumed that “if not mentioned” is mandate of the Syro malabars / latins? If so then how does it stop confusion in Areas like Cochin and Kollam or Trivandrum or Kanyakumari? It will be by confirming the Diocese but how can someone having no knowledge about the same understand this? would like to have some light on these questions and your views.

  92. St.Mariam Magdalene says

    Sorry one question ….why is syro malankara called as Reeths ? Is it something relatedct to “new rite” or because mar ivanios thirumeni put Reeths on the jacobite patriarch and joined the Roman Pontiff?

  93. St.Mariam Magdalene says

    http://www.marthomaorthodoxchurch.com/history.html what kindoff a church is this? Orthodox? Marthoma? Protestant? Assyrian?Catholic? Or a mix of allthe above , i know many would not have known about this church in the west…When we fight on petty reasons the “vellakaran” mixes it and brings out something new. Reading its history and its present state we come to know that it is a mixture of all denominations in kerala.:-)

  94. St.Mariam Magdalene says

    Some more queries i am placing ,a continuation to the previous ones. How will a knanaya in the protestant and pentecostals be identified as real knas? What if they rejoin d diocese of kottayam n chingavanam again? Why do we find no Knanayas in the COE? Indian Orthodox or Marthoma(even if we find, it will be only for the holy mass without membership or becuase they have no jacobite church nearby. What if a knanaya become the head of syro malabar/ syro malankara church,will he be governed by the bishop of archdiocese of kottayam? In 2014 Archbishop mar cleemis thottunkal of syro malankara was adressed as knanaya elsewhere on the internet but now i could see the corrected family history as from Pakalomattom? Why was there a difference of opinion in this 2 years?

    1. M Thomas Antony says

      I think we need to understand that Syriac Christianity in Kerala is not an ethnic group. It is a spirituality. It is exclusive to all indeed. In the past, probably the Nasrani community in Kerala might have remained as an ethnic group due to the special socio cultural situation in Kerala where communities were tightly knitted as different castes.

      But in general, Syriac Christianity never considered itself as an ethnic group. In fact, the Syriac Church of the East was the most missionary orientated Church and it was called as Church of fire. At one time, it was larger than the whole Western Christianity. It was multi ethnic and multi cultural. It had even an ethnic Chinese Patriarch. It used several languages even when the official liturgical language was East Syriac. We can see many ancient manuscripts and inscriptions in languages like Pahlavi, Sogdian, vattezhuthu -malayalam etc. showing its multi cultural face.

      Therefore conveying its spirituality to other strata of people is not surprising. Therefore, your question why Syro Malabar and Syro Malankara converting certain communities to their fold is not surprising and the new converts are also called Syriac Christians, as they are joining the spirituality. If they want to add their Nadar identity to it, it is up to them, like the Southists do .

      Your suggested terminology Syrian Malabar Nadar and Syrian Malankara Nadar are just ignorance as both the terms means the same- Malabar and Malankara are same. Malankara was the old term used by Thomas Christians. Syro Malabar has the name Malabar because the term malabar was forcefully attached on them by the Portuguese missionaries who thought the identity Malankara that was used in the past might lead them back to join the so called schismatics- the puthenccoor. Even the first Archbishop of Ernaculam Mar Augustine Kandathil has used the appellation ‘The Malankara Metropolitan’. Many manuscripts of Syro Malabar like that of Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanaar used the term Malankara.

      Why Kanyakumary has three rites ?- just because the three rites hold three different spiritualities- the Latin rite holds Latin spirituality, Syro Malabar holds Syro Chladean or East Syriac spirituality and The Syro Malankara holds Syro Jacobite or West Syriac spirituality. On a wider sense, for someone who does not have a good idea about Christianity could ask why different denominations of Christianity even co exists- all are Christians.

      Why Syro Malabar address themselves RC- It is mere ignorance. During the division of Puthencoor and pazhayacoor, the puthencoor accused Pazhayacoor as Romo syrians. The Pazhayacoors also thought as they accepted the Pope of Rome, they are Roman Catholics. Still, they used another appellation Syrian Christian as a caste- Roman Catholic Syrian Christians.

      Why does IOC claim that they are the real Indian church ? They are actually a faction of the Malankara uniates to the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch who claimed autocephalous status.( Just like Syro Malabar are malabar syriac uniates to the Roman catholic Church, the Puthencoors are malankra uniates to the Syriac Church of Antioch.) If they are the real successors of the ancient Thomasine Christianity in India, they should be using East Syriac liturgy and language and the vestments. If they claim that they are the real Indian Church, they need to invent an Indian liturgy or Indian anaphora.

      Re. Throne of Mar Thomas- as Thomasine Churches are East Syriac, it should go to one of the churches that follow East Syriac spirituality. The West Syriacs are part of Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch which is not a Thomasine Church but a Petrine church(Church founded by Saint Peter) composed of some syriac speaking Christians.

      Splits among the Thomasine Churches in Kerala- they are all due to involvement of different colonial Missionary forces attempting to carve a piece with them. The Portuguese Roman Catholic Missionaries carved the Pazhayacoor with them, the non Catholic European Colonial Missions like the Dutch and English imported another syriac church group the West Syriacs to carve a piece with them. The English engineered the reformed Syrians.
      What is the criteria for considering part of Thomasine church- It is Thomasine spirituality- East Syriac spirituality.

      Criteria to be considered as part of Syriac Christian- Syriac spirituality- be it East Syric or West Syriac.
      An example is a good number of Thomas Christians became Latin rite in the 16th century. They are not part of Thomasine or Syriac Christianity. Similarly, those Puthencoor and Pazhayacoor joined various Pentecostal churches are not part of Thomas/Syriac Christianity.

      Re. clear labelling of denomination- sabha. I think Puthencoor divided into many fractions and it became a need in their areas. In SMC areas, there is no real labelling to differentiate with Latin and SMC except the name of the eparchy. Knanaya always denote they are knanaya.

      Re. why Syro Malankara called reethu- It is not reethu, but ‘rite’. Formation of Syro Malabar was not like Syro Malankara. Syro Malabar were Pazhayacoors, and the church evolved from the already existed infra structure. Hence there was no widespread proclamation of a rite, even though Syro Malabar was also called a rite, as until Vatican Council II, all Eastern churches were called just ‘rites’. But after Vatican Council II, Eastern Catholic identity was clearly acknowledged and considered as sui iuris churches. Now, Syro Malabar and Syro Malankara are Sui iuris churches with their own Synod of Bishops and autonomous status with a head of the Church.

      Re Knanaya
      why no Knanaya in CoE- Initially, the native christians and the Migrant Persian Christians in India remained as two communities- castes. Patriarch Timothy once officially asked the Indian church to intermarry between Persian Christians and Indian Christians to become a single caste. Thus, there is no reason for the existence of Knanaya. The mere existence of knanaya is against Christian principles and it shows that it is an ethnic group only.

  95. Thomas says

    Dear Friends,
    My query is regarding the practices of the church in the 1st to 3rd century.
    The Anaphora of Mar Addai and Mari is the first anaphora of the east Syrian church. This was officially written in the 300’s. So what was followed before this anaphora? When those in India who were converted to Christianity by the Apostle himself in India in AD 52- 72 before the arrival of any migration from Persia, what was the style of the Qurbana and what were the practices followed?

    1. Steven Ring says

      Eusebius is one of the few historical sources for early Indian Christianity. In particular his description of the mission of Pantaenus in the second century c. AD 180, (Eus. H.E. book 5, section 10). Rather revealingly, Eusebius mentions that the local Indian Christians used a gospel written using Hebrew characters. I do not think it is reading too much into this, to say that Indian Christianity was at that time and place, still a Jewish sect and (called the Natzoraye Acts 24v5). This being so, I expect their Natzoraye synagogue ritual was similar to other Jewish synagogues, except that they worshipped Isho` as their Messiah and God, had readings from the gospel as well as from the OT, Jewish fellowship meals etc.
      Qorbane rituals were I think, an innovation of the Hellenized churches after AD 325, but I am ready to hear any evidence that they are earlier than that.

    2. Kurian says

      I remember I read a book written by father Chavara Kuriackose, a well educated and knowledgeable Catholic Priest which shed a little light on the early Malankara Christian history. According to him the first missionaries who visited Malankara are Ethopians. They found a copy of the gospel of Mathew written in Hebrew in Kerala. They took it with them when they returned to Ethopia which finally ended up in the hands of the British and is now in their Library in London.
      Also what they have found is about the clergy. The Clergy wore Kavy vasthram which in my understanding a shandi’s (Hindu priest) costumes. Their worshipping place had four walls around and a pool inside. Later the Christian communities migrated from Persia changed all these and churches were built in the middle eastern style as well as the worshiping practices were also changed.
      (I read this information in the year 1968 and I do not remember the exact wording he used in the book)

  96. Akshay Isaac says

    I am a member of Malankara Orthodox Church. completely agree with the argument of Peter (13 years).