‘Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar’ edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil

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‘Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar’ edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil

'Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar' edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil
‘Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar’ edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil

The Synod of Diamper played a major role in changing the history of Kerala. ((The controversial Synod of Diamper has been proved invalid by late Bishop Jonas Thaliath in his thesis at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1952 on the ground that it was convoked without authority, conducted not according to the Canon of the Church and was never properly approved by Rome – Synod of Diamper by Jonas Thaliath )) The then Portuguese Archbishop of Goa, Dom Alexis de Menezes convoked the Synod of Diamper on June 1599. This was conducted after a prolonged power struggle spread over five months between Menezes and the St. Thomas Christian community headed by Archdeacon. During these months and another five months after the Synod Menezes visited most of the churches of St. Thomas Christians with a view to Europenizing and Latinizing this native Christian community of India by obliterating and erasing all their indigenous customs and practices. During these journeys Menezes took notes of what he saw and heard and probably these notes formed the main source for Antonio de Gouvea to compile “Jornada do Arcebispo”.

The book is written in Portuguese perspective, mixed with facts, distorted interpretations, pre conceptions, prejudices and ignorance. The entire account of Gouvea is written to praise the Portuguese missionaries especially the achievements of Dom Alexis de Menezes. There are many people who hold the view that Gouvea was the personal historian of Menezes and one has to read this book keeping in mind the purpose it is written.

The value of this work lies with the fact that it accounts the final latinization attempts by Portuguese which resulted in severing the ties of this native Christian community with the Church of East. Also the book accounts the traditions, customs, description of churches, places among the St. Thomas Christian community against the background of these visits by Menezes.

“Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar” edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil is an English translation of “Jornada do Arcebispo” by Antonio de Gouvea.

The original work was compiled in 1603 which was first published in Portuguese in Coimbra, Portugal in 1606. In 1609, a French translation came out from Bruxelles and Antwerp. There was a latin version in the eighteenth century. It took four hundred years for a complete English translation.

This painstaking effort was carried out by Dr. Pius Malekandathil. (( http://www.tanap.net/content/universities/counterparts.cfm?ArticleID=159 )) He is at present the Reader in History at the Department of History, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. He undertook this work when he was the Reader in History at Goa University. His areas of specialization includes, Maritime History of India, History of European Expansion, Socio-Economic History of Medieval India Studies in Indian Ocean Societies and History of Science and Technology in Pre-Colonial India.

1. Overview of the Book

The book of Jornada has three parts. This book also has a 53 page, ten part, lengthy introduction written by Dr. Pius Malekandathil which will help the readers in being cautious and seriously critical in accepting the statements and assertions of Jornada. There are also 482 elaborate, scholarly notes which helps to evaluate the statements of Antonio de Gouvea.In translation the name of places have been kept as it is in original Jornada. There is also a 5 page index of places mentioned in Jornada and their corresponding modern names. It also has a Map of places of Malabar as described in Jornada attached.

2. Book in detail

2.1 Introduction

Some observations from the 53 page Introduction by Dr. Pius Malekandathil,

'Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar' edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil
‘Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar’ edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil

– The purpose of the visit as we understand from Jornada was to purge St. Thomas Christians of their “heresies” and “errors” to give them true Catholic faith, to destroy all their “heretical” books, to convoke a synod of the church and finally to make them obey the Roman Church by severing their ties with the Mesopotamian Church and by making them take an oath to receive only the prelates send by the Latin Church. Menezes enjoyed second rank in authority in Portuguese India and he hoped that with his authority he would achive the target. It was the difference in the customs, practises and ritual traditions of St. Thomas Christians that were viewed as errors or heresies. Perfect conformity to the Latin cum Lusitanian practices was projected by Menezes as the best way to “obey the Catholic Church”.

– One should also see whether the so called “ attempt to bring this indigenous Christian community under Rome “ was actually meant to bring them under Rome at all or was it used as a pretext to bring them under the Portuguese nationalistic church structure of Padroado, a development which would also ensure the trader from Portugal to control the spice producer of Malabar better. Nothing can be conclusively said because of the merging of diverse motives at different historical phases.

– The Portuguese period of Indian history exhibits frequent clashes between the old world system and the emerging new world system. In the old world system, whose trade routes terminated in the Mediterranean, the St. Thomas Christian played a vital role because of their linkage with religious and commercial networks of West Asia. It was for integrating the spice producing community of St. Thomas Christians to new world system, the Portuguese entered the hinterlands of Malabar. The spice production centers are located far away from the coast and were outside the control of Portuguese. Right from the very beginning Portuguese has to depend on the producing community, the St. Thomas Christians to receive consignments of Pepper. In 1520, this was accomplished with the help of Chaldean prelate Mar Jacob Abuna. The efforts to get pepper in exchange of artilleries and guns were not very successful in the kingdoms of Edappilly, Vadakkenkur and Parur. These days people can buy ar-15 pistols for their safety but need a lot of responsibility. Further attempts to integrate spice producing community with Portuguese commercial networks begin in the form of annual monetary rewards paid to the inland rulers from 1533 onwards. From 1554 onwards Portuguese state paid annually an amount of 72,000 reais each to the rulers of Vadakkenkur, Thekkenkur, Parur, Purakkad, Diamper and Alengad. 640 cruzados to the king of Cochin as well as 42,000 reais to the Karta of Alwaye and 72,000 reais to the king of Thodupuzha for ensuring regular flow of Pepper to the Portuguese factor at Cochin. These did not bring the desired results and latinization of the spice producing community of St. Thomas Christians seems to be the alternative to control the hinterlands of production where commanilty in religion was projected as a cementing factor to suit the commercial interests of Portuguese. In a wider mercantile context this was the effective way for the trading group to control the producing group.

– One has to specially note that the Patriarch, whom the Synod of Diamper and the Archbishop in his visit of churches condemned and declared as a heretic was a Catholic Patriarch in communion with the Roman Catholic Church and the bishops who were suspected to be heretics were send by the Patriarch in communion with Roman Catholic Church. This clearly shows that at the time of this exercise, St. Thomas Christians were already Catholic and then in that case the purpose of the visits made by Archbishop to the hinterlands of Malabar was not for converting the St. Thomas Christians to Catholic as was claimed but was for something else.

– The depiction that the visits of Archbishop was undertaken to cleanse the St. Thomas Christian community of “heresy” as well as “wrong practices” and to “true faith” enabled the Portuguese to cover the hidden motives they had. The use of these phrases and the equation of practices and customs of the community with heresy against the context of Protestant Reformation in Europe had assured its desired results, on one hand it gave sufficient justification for Portuguese to intervene in the activities of this community for “cleaning” and on the other hand it ensured support in Catholic Europe for the Lusitanian ventures to change the affairs of St. Thomas Christians according to their politico- commercial interests.

2.2 Synopsis of Jornada

2.2.1. Book One

First part has 22 chapters, dealing with the early history of St. Thomas Christians and mostly about the activities of Menezis leading to the convoking of Syond of Diamper.

'Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar' edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil
‘Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar’ edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil

There is also an account of the Portugues efforts to intervene in the affairs of the Coptic Christians of Ethiopia. The visit of Menezes to the different churches and Christian settlements of St. Thomas Christians and the opposition he has to face from them. The Portuguese attempts to capture Kunjali Marakkar and his Muslim allies who resisted the naval hegemony of the Portuguese in Indian waters. It also mentions efforts to contain the emerging power of Travancore which are of serious concern for Portuguese interests.

Christian custom of Chaverpada (amoucos) is also discussed. There are also minute details about the indigenous traditions of liturgical celebrations, practices and customs are detailed. A detailed description of how Menezes won the co-operation of resisting St. Thomas Christians to his side is also given.

One of the most impressive one that touched the hearts of many of the St. Thomas Christians was the washing of feet of 12 Kathanars at Kaduthuruthy on Holy Thursday. This ritual being a novel thing for the community was viewed by many as the holiness and humilty of the second greatest officials of Portuguese in India.

The Archbishop who had manifold plans and strategies stunned the opponents with his impressive undertakings. By fully knowing that the priests of Malabar had their allegiance towards Patriach of Bablyon, he resorted to a chain of ordinations at Diamper, Kaduthuruthy and Parur, that earned him more than hundred priests and their relativies as supporters in the Syond of Diamper. The Archbishop spend 18,000 pardaos for the bestowal of gifts for his opponents, defiant chieftains and inland rulers to gather support to his actions.

Chapter 1- Regarding the origin and growth of St. Thomas Christians
Chapter 2- Regarding the persecution of Christians at Mailapor and how they moved on to those who were living in Malabar and the expansion of the community
Chapter 3- Of how the Church of Serra was made Metropolitan of India and among them entered the heresy of Nestor.
Chapter 4- Of the death of last Nestorian Archbishop and efforts of Menezes to bring the Christians of St. Thomas to the obedience of Roman Church
Chapter 5- About how the Archbishop of Goa made the Archdeacon the Governor of the Bishopric of Serra
Chapter 6- Of how the ArchBishop left Goa and what he did at Cannanore
Chapter 7- Of the Origin of Catholics who are there in the Empire of Abyssinia which we call Prester John
Chapter 8- Of how the Bishop Dom Andre de Oviedo reached the Emperor of Abyssinia and how he died
Chapter 9- How the Archbishop left from Cannanore and arriving in Cochin started to deal with matters of Serra
Chapter 10- Of how the Archbishop started to visit churches of Serra and what happened in churches of Vaipicotta
Chapter 11- What the Archbishop went through in the churches of Alengad, Chowara and Kanjoor.
Chapter 12- Of how the Archbishop went to Quilon and of what was done there in the fortification of the fort.
Chapter 13- Of how the Archbishop gave ordinations at Diamper and went to Kaduthuruthy where he performed the rituals of the Holy Week.
Chapter 14- Of how the nobles and Cassanars of the people of Kaduthuruthy subjected themselves to obedience of Archbishop, on the friday of the cross.
Chapter 15- Of how the whole people of Kaduthuruthy accepeted the Archbishop as their prelate in the procession of the resurrection and gave obedience to the Holy Roman Church.
Chapter 16- Of what the Archbishop did in Diamper and retired himself to Cranganore to convene the Synod.
Chapter 17- Of how the Archdeacon ultimately submitted himself to the obedience of Roman Church and of the Archbishop, and both of them convened the people for the Diocesan Synod of Diamper.
Chapter 18- Of the errors which the Christians of St. Thomas had in the things of the Faith and what they observed in Ecclesiastical matters.
Chapter 19- Of the customs of the Christians of St. Thomas in secular matters.
Chapter 20- Regarding the celebration of the Synod.
Chapter 21- In which one proceeds regarding at what happened at the Synod of Diamper.
Chapter 22- Of the end of the Synod, and of how the Christians became more confirmed in the faith by what happened in the procession.

2.2.2 Book Two

Second book which has fifteen chapters deals with the visit of Archbishop Menezes to the various settlements of the St. Thomas Christians after the conclusion of Synod for implementing the decesions. Gouvea pictures him as a Victor. The dissenting priests and the protesting group are pictured as insignificant minority who are either punished by the wrath of God or rectified by the admonition of the Archbishop

He also emphasizes on evangelization and the priests of St. Thomas Christians were send to Malleas for evangelization work. Gouvea also furnishes extensive details on the tradition of the veneration of the cross in Malabar. It might be one of the earliest documents that refers to Pahlavi inscribed cross as St. Thomas cross.

Chapter 1- Of the manner in which the Archbishop used to visit the churches after celebrating the Synod.
Chapter 2- How the Archbishop started to visit the Churches, and of the visitation of Diamper and Kottyam, and the of the miracle of the Cross of St. Thomas.
Chapter 3- Of how the Archbishop ordered the preaching of the faith to the Malleas, and of the beginning of their conversion.
Chapter 4- How the Archbishop came with the King of Purakkad about the visit of the churches of Diamper,Small Parur and Mulanthuruty
Chapter 5- Of the Visitation of the churches of Akaparambu, and of Alengad and of very noble case which took place in this bazaar.
Chapter 6- Of the Visitation of the churches of Vaipicotta,Muttam,Pallipuram and Kalloorkadu
Chapter 7- Of the Visitation of the churches of Purakkad, Kayamkulam and Quilon
Chapter 8- Of what Archbishop did in the fort of Quilon
Chapter 9- Of the Visitation of the Church of Tevalakkara, and what the Archbishop discussed with King of Kundara
Chapter 10- Of the Visitation of the Churches of Kallada and Kadambanad
Chapter 11- Of how the Archbishop made peace with King of Kayamkulam and of the visitation of the churches of Karthikapally, Cheppadu,Puthiakavu and Niranam
Chapter 12- Of the Visitation of church of Chengannoor
Chapter 13- Of the Visitation of churches of Changanacherry, Pulinkunnu, Piravam and Kaduthuruthy
Chapter 14- Of the Visitation of churches of Kuravilangadu and Elenji
Chapter 15-Of what the Archbishop passed through in Parur and of how, coming over to Goa, left us Governor of the Bishopric of Serra its Archdeacon.

2.2. 3. Book Three

Third book deals with the departure of Archbishop from Malabar and his activities in Calicut, Mangalore, Basrur and Honawar on his way to goa. This part also contains the customs and practices of the Bedouins of Socotora as well as the activities of the Augustinian monks sent by the Archbishop to the court of Shah Abbas I of Perisa among them Gouvea was also a delegate.

Chapter 1- Of what the Archbisjhop did in Cochin before embarking for Goa.
Chapter 2- Of how Archbishop swore in the King of Porca as Brother in arms of the King of Portugual and of the agreement made with him.
Chapter 3- Of how the Archbishop left Cochin, and what happened until he met King Samorin.
Chapter 4- Of how the Archbishop met Samorin, King of Calicut on the beach of Coriche.
Chapter 5- Of how the Archbishop visited church of Mangalore and of a noteworthy case of a penitent who confessed to him, where also is given information of the place of the fort of the Serra of Assarim.
Chapter 6- Of the Visitation of the churches of Basrur and Honawar, and of a feast which was celebrated in Honawar in the Kingdom of Gerussoppa.
Chapter 7- Of the Archbishop arrived in Goa and of a notable conversion of a gentile, which took place before he entered the city.
Chapter 8- Of what happened in the Bishopric of Serra after the Archbishop returned to Goa.
Chapter 9- Of how the Archbishop was determined to take Cassanars of Serra to the Island of Socotora and to do for its Christendom, what he had done for that of the Malabar.
Chapter 10- Of the rites and customs observed by the Bedouins of Socotora who were called Christians.
Chapter 11- Of how was discovered a settlement in the bishopric of Serra of Christians who were not baptized and received the baptism and of three Religious of the Order of our Father St. Augustine whom the Archbishop send to Great Shah of Persia.
Chapter 12- Of the three Religious Ambassadors left from Ormuz and made their voyage until they reached the Court of Shah Abbas I and what they discussed with him.
Chapter 13- Of how Shah Abbas I sent an Ambassador of his in my company to the Viceroy of India.

Jornada is an important historical document of Sixteenth century. Scholarly footnotes, introduction makes this book a must read for those interested in the history of St. Thomas Christians. The book is published by LRC and prized at Rs.500 /-

Picture – 1. Front Cover of Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil

Picture – 2. Original cover of “Jornada do Arcebispo” by Antonio de Gouvea

Picture -3 Map of places of Malabar as described in Jornada 1606.

Author can be reached on admin at nasrani dot net

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  1. Aby Abraham says

    Interesting! I appreciate the effort you guys are putting to spread the syrian Christian history.
    I find it hard to believe that Kerala Christians were Catholics during the visit of Menezes.

    Can it be that the observation “- One has to specially note that the Patriarch, whom the Synod of Diamper and the Archbishop in his visit of churches condemned and declared as a heretic was a Catholic Patriarch in communion with the Roman Catholic Church and the bishops who were suspected to be heretics were send by the Patriarch in communion with Roman Catholic Church. This clearly shows that at the time of this exercise, St. Thomas Christians were already Catholic and then in that case the purpose of the visits made by Archbishop to the hinterlands of Malabar was not for converting the St. Thomas Christians to Catholic as was claimed but was for something else.” is not cent percent true?

    I would like to have an honest debate on this.
    Thanks, Aby.

  2. Easo Varghese says

    Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil
    I am interested to buy a copy. Could you give me details. I am in Trivandrum.
    e varghese

  3. Admin says

    Dear Aby Abraham

    The introduction by Dr. Malekandathil is 53 page long and I have only added very few observations here. The editor is trying to provide a factual presentation in this book.

    During the time of this Synod, the prelates were send by a church in communion with Catholic Church. There are evidences for this. Yet, this is a matter of contention with many different opinions. It can be a success of Portuguese claims. One reason for this confusion is that, there were two lines of Patriarchs for Church of East. This is actually discussed many times.

    Historical observations about past would be made as it was in the past, at that particular point of time, especially while considering something like Synod of Diamper which changed the history.

    The evidences and documents show that Portuguese has been accusing, tormenting and deporting the Prelates who were send by the Chaldean church, which was in communion with Roman Catholic Church. They were branded as heretics. From 1556, we know that Mar Joseph, Mar Abraham, Mar Elias, Mar Simon came to Malabar as prelates of St. Thomas Christians. ( Prelates of Nasranis article).

    Mar Joseph and Mar Elias were send by Chaldean Patriarch who was in communion with Catholic Church but was accused and later deported by Portuguese.

    Mar Abraham who was initially send by traditional Babylonian Patriarch escaped Portuguese custody and came back with appointment from Chaldean Patriarch Mar Abdiso and Pope Pious IV. He was made the Metropolitan of Angamaly, the superior of all Bishops.

    The Portuguese missionaries made the King of Portugal to order not to let any Bishops coming from Mesopotamia to enter any Indian ports. This was issued and implemented from March 6, 1563 onwards.

    This shows that the basic theme which was portrayed for the Synod of Diamper as introduction of “Catholic faith” is not correct. In Prelates of Nasranis till Synod of Diamper article some of the hierarchal aspects are discussed.

    The intention at this particular point was to replace Chaldaea prelates with latin prelates. For achieving that very purpose, every tricks which were bestowed with Colonial authority has been repeatedly and extensively used.

    Dear Easo Varghese

    This is published by LRC Publications in 2004. I think the best idea would be to contact Fr. Pauly Kannookadan, E mail – [email protected]

    They do send books via post. You can get more information from LRC

  4. Kurien Koshy says

    “Augustinian monks sent by the Archbishop to the court of Shah Abbas I of Perisa ”

    What purpose this was, any connection with us ?

  5. John Mathew says

    Dear Admin:

    Thanks for making us aware of this book—I wonder how many other such documents of the Portuguese are still lying around waiting to be translated!

    I think/hope this would really help bolster the histories of the various Churches throughout Kerala—that is, so many of our Churches claim to have been established in the 1st/4th/9th/11th/13th etc centuries, with very little evidence to support the claims. Does Menezes’ accounts of these Churches shed any light on their history?

    For example, what does he have to say about the Church at Thevallakara? Was there a tomb over there that was venerated (Mar Abo) by our people? Our how about the Church in Kallada: did it have the same aura of antiquity that it has now? Any juicy details about Niranam, Cheppad, Karthikapally, Chengannur? (Sorry for the southern bias …!).

    And here I was thinking those horrid accounts by the British low-Church Protestants (Whitehouse, and his ilk) were all we had!

    Please Admin, if you have some details you could shed on these old Parishes, I would love to hear about them!

  6. Admin says

    Dear John Mathew

    I think there are many missionary accounts, letters etc in Portuguese and other languages to be translated ( like of Anquetil, Paulinus, Germann etc). I have read many quotations but haven’t got an opportunity to read the original or translations.

    Credible evidences about the history of churches from Jornada.

    There are references about some 160 churches with some details about the history and the encounter Menezes had with the people, clergy and the inland rulers. One major issue I think would be locating some of the churches mentioned, as most of them have been wooden structures and might have been reconstructed or changed locations as people moved and some others might have been destroyed.

    Jornada also mentions the same general history, that after establishing churches at Cannanore, the Apostle went across the entire Malabar coast up to ( Coulao) Quilon and then to Mylapore. It also mentions the mission to China.

    In Introduction on Part IV, Dr. Malekandathil, writes that from 3rd century onwards we find inland movement of St. Thomas Christians as part of their agrarian activities to bring more forest under cultivation which is attested by the erection of several churches at inland parts,

    Pallipuram ( 3rd Century), Ambazhakad ( 300), Aruvithara ( 301), Kuravilangadu( 335) North Pudukad ( 400) Puthenchira ( 400)Akaparambu ( 450) Angamali ( 450) Mattam ( 5th century) Chambakulam ( 5th Century), Muttuchira ( 6th Century),Kaduthuruthy Valiapally ( 500), Enammavu ( 500) Udayamperoor ( 510), Edapally ( 593), Chalakudy ( 600) Mylakombu ( 6th Century).

    In the succeeding centuries also migrating Persian Christians concentrated more of their activities on coast and native St. Thomas Christians penetrated more and more to the inland parts.

    Kolenchery (7th Century) Moozhikulam ( 7th century), Kayamkulam ( 824) Athirampuzha ( 853) Kottyam ( 9th Century) Nagapuzha (900) Manjapra ( 943) Mavelikara ( 943), Pazhuvil (960), Arakuzha (999), Nediasala ( 999) Kottekad ( 1000), Kadamattom ( 10th Century) Kanjur ( 1001) Kaduthuruthy Cheriapally ( 10th Century) Kunnamkulam ( 10th Century), Pala ( 1002), Muttam ( 1023), Cherpunkal ( 1096), Vadakara ( 11th century), Bharananganam ( 1100), Changanacherry ( 1117), Thripunithara ( 1175), Cheppadu ( 12th century), Chengannoor ( 12th century), Kudamaloor ( 12th century), Ernakulam ( 12th century) Kothanalloor ( 1220) Mulanthuruthy ( 1225) Kothamangalam Valiapally ( 1240), Karthikapally ( 13th century), Kuruppumpady ( 13th century), Alengad ( 1300), Muthalakodam ( 1312), Njarackal ( 1341) Koratty ( 1381), Poonjar ( 14th century), Alleppey ( 1400),Kanjirappilly ( 1450), Kothamangalam Cheriapally ( 1455) Kudavechur ( 1463) – etc

    From the footnote, the dating’ s are from compilation of data from Germann, (Gutersloh, 1877) and from local data.

    Churches in South

    The following details are from the chapters of Book Two, ie, from the visit of Archbishop Menezes to the various settlements of the St. Thomas Christians after the conclusion of Synod. In Book One (before convoking of Syond of Diamper ) Chapter XII, Gouvea writes that after the initial visit to five churches ( Vaipicotta, Parur, Alengad, Chowara and Kanjoor) Archbishop understood, very little he could do at the northern side because of the influence of Archdeacon, as he was more present, loved and known in northern side. In south, he doesn’t have that affection, as he doesn’t frequent their. So Archbishop decided to go to Quilon before convoking the Syond. There was also a major concern about a fort the King of Travancore was building their near the Portuguese settlement.

    Church at Thevallakara

    Chapter IX mentions about the visit to Church at Teualecare (Thevallakara ) which is situated in the lands of Queen of Changanate ( Kingdom of Quilon).I couldn’t find any details about the tomb of Mar Abo.

    Antonio de Gouvea, mentions that its structure is best in Serra but the people are uneducated and indomitable. There were no regular mass. Priests were busy with trading than being Christians. They had sword and shield, didn’t had crown, married with children and very rich because of there dealings in pepper. Archbishop stayed there for many days.

    Gouvea also writes that before the Archbishop Menezes, left for Kundara the Christians there brought big Olas of copper, written in diverse characters which contained many privileges and incomes, which the king who founded Coulao ( Quilon) gave to the church which was built by the two, who came from Babylonia, Mar Xabro ( Mar Saphor) and Mar Prohd (Mar Prodh). The Olas are retained by the Christians of this church as an invaluable treasure.

    Before showing the Archbishop the Ola, they made him swear that he wont move it from there. They were afraid that the Archbishop would take that to Angamale, which being the bishopric and having the archives there. He also mentions about a fight that happened between Muslims and Christians at the Bazaaar. Gouvera mentions that it was a revolt planned by Musilms against the Menezis and Christian expansion. But seeing the Christians, Portuguese and Nairs coming together against the Muslims, they withdraw and gave up the fight.

    In the footnote Dr. Malekandathil, writes that its highly probable that these Christians at Thevelakkara were direct descendants of the immigrant Christians who came along with Mar Saphor and Mar Prodh in the 9th century, a linkage which made them the actual possessors of the copper plates.

    In Chapter VIII, there is a mention that the Church at Coulao (Quilon) which is dedicated to the Apostle Thomas is under Portuguese control. Before the Portuguese came to India and captured Coulao, some seven hundred and thirty two years ago this church was established by Mar Xabro (Mar Saphor) and Mar Prohd ( Mar Prodh) who came from Babylonia and who are called by Saints by the Christians here.

    Gouvea mentions that, the Christians continued to stay there, but later on moved as their customs and rituals were different from latins and Portuguese. They moved out from here and established another Church half a league from the fort near upper Quilon dedicated to Our lady, where they live now.

    From the footnotes- Church of St. Thomas of Collam ( Quilon) which was later used by Jacobites was destroyed by 1790. The other church which was near Thankasseri fort which was dedicated to Blessed Virgin and was used by Latin Catholics.

    Gouvea also mentions the Church at Tiruvancode which is twenty five leagues towards the Cape of Comorin from Coulao ( Quilon). In 1970’s this church was also at the hands of Jacobites. It seems to have been called as St. Thomas Church at Tiruvancode.

    Church in Kallada

    There is a detailed history with reference to the current situation in 1600 mentioned in Goueva. Archbishop himself didn’t visit the church at Kallada because of a political situation. Gouvea writes that, the church which is dedicated to blessed Virgin Mary is situated at the lands of Queen of Changanate ( Kingdom of Quilon) during Archbishop visit.

    This church was first situated at the other side of the river in the lands of King of Chavara. This King of Chavara was very hostile to Christians and ordered the church to be destroyed. Nairs with the help of an elephant destroyed the church and then threw the cross in the river. The cross swim against the current of the river and then stopped in front of the house of a Christian. The Christian collected it with great veneration and kept it with utmost care seeing the marvel and greatness of the miracle. Hearing this, the Kings party again threw the cross in the river but it didn’t move. The Nairs left it alone and went about saying that, was a marvel of the god of Christians.

    The Christians after the destruction of their church moved to the other side of the river, which was the land of Queen of Changanate ( Kingdom of Quilon)and built an wooden church there. The King of Chavara died in an year and the locals attribute the reason as ill treating the Christians.

    The King of Travancore inherited the land of King of Chavara and asked the Christians to come back and built the church at the same place. The Queen of Changanate ( Kingdom of Quilon) intervened not allowing the Christians to move or transfer the church. Gouvea writes that this is not because of the devotion or love but because of the taxes and benefits the Bazaars and settlements of Christians generate to the respective kingdoms.

    Because of these political situation the locals refrained the Archbishop from visiting the Church at Kallada. Archbishop asked these Christians to come to the church at Kadambanad. There is also an account of a fight between some Nairs and Christians because of the language Archbishop used against the Gods of Nairs.

    Churches in Karthikappally

    Gouvea writes that the church at Catiapely (Karthikappally) is situated in the land of King of Batimena ( Venmani). There was no vicar and no mass was held. He gave them a vicar. When Archbishop was at the Bazaar here, the king of Batimena ( Venmani) came their and thanked him for the treaties he had worked with him and with the King of Callecoulao ( Kayamkulam). There is also mention of how the system worked after the Syond on new converts which are under the bishopric of Cochin and the Saint Thomas Christians who are under the bishopric of Serra. Gouvea also writes that, there are distinction between the new converts and Saint Thomas Christians. For converting locals and for building new churches for the new converts, Portuguese had to get permission from the respective local kings where as St.Thomas Christians would build churches with out any permission as they wish in the vassals they are.

    From the footnote the Church of Karthikappally was dedicated to St.Thomas and in the hands of Jacobites in 1750’s. How ever Paulins mentions the Church was dedicated to St.Mary and it belonged to Jacobites in 1790’s.

    Churches in Cheppad

    From Karthikappally, the Archbishop went to Corico Langare ( Cheppad) situated in the lands of the King of Panapely ( ?) . The Church is called Saint George, to whom many of them in the Serra are dedicated. The Christians have a great devotion for him, whom in their language they call Marbarguida ( stands for Mar Barguida or Mar Varghese meaning St. George) in which the Archbishop found a large number of books which he burnt. There is also an account of the King coming here for greeting the Archbishop and granting him permission to build churches for the new converts.

    From here he went to Church of Batimena ( Venmani) which is dedicated to Our Lady and from there to Church at Podiagabo or Mauelicare ( Puthiakavu or Mavelikara) which was also dedicated to blessed Virgin.

    From the footnote, this can be Harippad. Fr. Bernard identifies this with Cheppadu.

    Church in Niranam

    Gouvea writes that Church in Niranam lies in the lands and with the jurisdiction of Charavacoil ( ?), who is an independent lord of the caste of the kings of Cochin. This place has three big Bazaaras. Gouvea writes that in Bazaars, there were Christians, gentiles, Muslims and some Jews. Archbishop often used to send Father Francis Roz to the Synagogues of the Jews to preach as he was well versed in Malabari as well as Hebrew and Chaldean languages.

    Footnote- This Church was dedicated to St.Mary. In 19750’s this church belonged to Jacobities and was the seat of Jacobite Bishop Mar Thoma in 1790’s.

    Church in Chengannur

    From Niranam Archbishop reached Chengannur. Gouva writes it as the strength of idolatry in Malabar. A big Bazaar with very rich people and land is under the ownership of a temple. The Church is dedicated to Blessesed Virgin. The Archbishop stayed there for many days implementing the decisions of the Syond. Gouvea also writes about the fight Archbishop had with a very powerful Cassanar who was married.

    From here he went to Changanachery, passing through Maruquitil ( some consider as Manarcad or otherwise Maramon dedicated to Blessed Virgin Mary ) making peace with Christians and Nairs on the death of a Nair whom Christians killed.

    Side by side he also set orders for what need to done at Tuumpone ( Thumpamon dedicated to St.Mary ) and church at Calupare ( Kallooppara – dedicated to St.Thomas) on correcting the books and on the profession of faith.

  7. John Mathew says

    Dear Admin,

    Thanks for the detailed information! You’ve satiated my curiosity, at least until I can get my own copy.

    I noticed you mentioned various dates clustered around the 4th and 10th centuries for the various churches — these are the same dates that i’ve often seen reported on websites, in various (citation-less) articles on those various Churches, or elsewhere (e.g., the Mavelikara St Mary’s Church has a foundation stone which mentions the 1000 year celebrations a few decades ago).

    I had always wondered where those dates came from. Was it this Journal that provides our first documentary reporting for those dates? Or are those dates only from the footnotes of Dr. Pius M.?

  8. Admin says

    Dear John Mathew

    You are right. These are the same dates we see generally everywhere. I also had the same question on where we have any documentary evidences on these dates other than from local data compilations.

    Almost all of the things mentioned in this article and comments are from Jornada, the footnotes and Introduction. I just tried to present it as it is given in this work.

    Jornada doesn’t give us the founding years of all churches. It’s more of a generic description about the history of churches with more input to whom the churches Menezis visited were dedicated, what it was in sixteenth century and the situation, status of the Christians in each of these parishes.

    I took those founding dates of churches from the Introduction written by Dr.Pius Malekandathil. (Page No- XLIII- Introduction).

    This is the full footnote attached to the dates-

    “The dating of these Christian settlement and the founding of their churches is done on the basis of information from W.Hermann, Die Kirche der Thomaschristen: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Orientalischen Kirchen, Gutersloh, 1877 pp-673-769; Fr. Bernard, The History of the St. Thomas Christians pp-296-327. The year of the founding of these churches is taken from the respective diocesan directories, which is further cross checked with the help of field study, in which the statutes, the church- bells, stone inscriptions etc are used to verify their chronology. See also Pius Malekandathil, “St. Thomas Christians and the Indian Ocean “, pp 186,194-95,198-99.”

    These are my additions based on this-

    1.The book by W.Hermann, which is published in 1877 is available online but I don’t know German to make sense out of this. Please, see if you can dig some information from page numbers 673-769.

    W.Hermann, Die Kirche der Thomaschristen

    2. I have a copy of the book by Fr. Bernard, A brief sketch of the History of the St. Thomas Christians but unfortunately many of the pages mentioned are missing. This is published in 1920, St.Joeseph’s press, Mannanam. I am not sure if there are any tabular data given in the book ( There are some tabular data on Catholic population).

    From the book of Fr. Bernard, The History of the St. Thomas Christians

    “In the period of Latin rule which began with Bishop Raphael Figueredo’s regime in 1687 and ended with the consecration of three Indian Syrians as Vicars Apostolic in 1896, several Syrian parishes with many of their parishioners were latinised.

    The total number of Syrian parish churches in the year of the Synod of Diamper, 1599, was 105. Gouvea in 1605 enumerated 77 of them in his Jornado. Of these, 8 are now Latin parishes. They are Cannanore, Thodamala and Calicut (latinised after 1653) in British Malabar; the two churches at Cranganore (after 1701), the church of St. Thomas in Cochin (after 1687), Mattanchery (after 1687), and a church at Quilon (after 1701). Other Latinised churches are Thuruthipuram (after 1701) and Idacochy; a church in Melarcot (in Coimbatore), and another in its vicinity (after 1850); and Mathilakam and Perumanur new church (in the 19th century). Arthumkal was probably a Syrian chapel attached to the Syrian church at Shertallay. The Ernakulam central church and the Petta church in Trivandrum were built by Syrians. Verapoly too was originally a Syrian church.”

    PS- In earlier Post- 11090, I gave the number of churches as some 160 based on another book. I did not count the number of churches mentioned in Jornada chapter by chapter.

    3. I am yet to read Pius Malekandathil, “St. Thomas Christians and the Indian Ocean”.

    Finally I think the dates are a compilation from multiple sources including field survey as mentioned in the footnote in Jornada. I don’t know if I missed any other sources. I have seen the same dates in some other places also, just the same way you mentioned mostly with out footnotes. So don’t know exactly if there are some other sources. Please add if I missed something since I know that this is a subject of interest to you and a few others.

  9. John Mathew says

    Dear Admin:

    Thank you very much for the link to W. Germann’s book — I had been searching for this for a while (e.g., he apparently talks about a side-community of Manichaeans living along side the Nasranis, perhaps the original ancestors of the Knanaya?).

    I’ll try to put it through Google Translate and see what I can learn.

    By the way, if anyone else possesses similar docs written in foreign European languages, I think Google Translate works well enough to enable a rough translation.

    Ref: http://translate.google.com

  10. John Mathew says

    Dear Admin:

    So far, Google Translate seems to indicate that Germann’s work is heavily based on other works, specifically the journal of Menezes and “Lingerings …” by Whitehouse.

    Some sections (on the Manichaeans of Kayamkulam) are lifted directly from Whitehouse. Others (like the description of the Church at Thevelakkara and the Nasranis there) sound exactly like what you reported from Menezes’ journal.

    This is preliminary … but disappointing! I think it would be better to read works by the early Catholic/Portuguese missionaries (at best, one wouldn’t have to stomach the overtly anti-Catholic/Orthodox propaganda of Protestants…).

  11. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear John,

    Sorry, I am a bit behind. How did you translate W Hermann’s book ? On clicking the link, I get a page about this book at google book search with information about this book. How did you download it or read the book ? There is no link for downloading. I had a similar problem with downloading some books from “internet archives” also where we can read the book as flipbook but on clicking the pdf file to download, it takes me to google book search where there is no link for downloading.

    It seems that Jordana of Alexis de Menesis contains many historical information similar to Whitehouse’s book. I like Whitehouses book because it is a narration of different peoples’ accounts by visiting and talking to so many people in Kerala. It contains so many interesting things and stories about many nasrani churches. It also tells many bits about my own parish church at champakulam.(calloorcaud)
    Jordana also has a chapter on Menesis’s visit to champakulam- champakulam church is called champakulam kalloorcaud church in all ancient documents. Even though champakulam church was a prominent nasrani chuch which was estd in AD 427, it is not seen among the parishes participated in the synod of Diamper. Again, champakulam church was with the archdeacon immediately after the coonan cross oath but was ordered by the king of Purakkadu to join the Roman side and they alongwith Kudamaloor church (which was also under the king of purakkadu) joined Roman side in 1659. I am eagerly waiting to read the book of Dr Pius Malekandathil to get more information.

  12. John Mathew says

    Dear Antony:

    When you click the link to the book (above), on the top left of the page there will be a tab to “Read this book”. Click it, and you should be able to see images from the book.

    On the right side of the page, you’ll see links to download the pdf, and also to “View plain text”.

    Grab the pdf, if you desire. To translate, go to view plain text. Then you can copy and paste the pages from the book into Google translate (set the translator to go from German to English, obviously) and read a pretty decent translation.

    Most of the good details from Germann (e.g., about Manichaeans in Kayamkulam, etc.) seems to be almost a verbatim copy of Whitehouse (with the Protestant bias). I haven’t found the part with actual dates yet, though…

    Are there any other important books on this topic from the 17th/18th centuries? I’d really like to learn what ‘field work” was actually done to get such fantastic dates for Churches (e.g., 5th/10th century etc.).
    At this point, I have a hard time believing any of these Churches go past the 14th century … and the same for the open air rock crosses: is it possible they were, rather than being native and ancient, just built by the Portuguese? Do the European Catholics have a tradition of open air rock crosses? How about the Church of the East/Chaldeans?

  13. M Thomas Antony says

    Sorry again John,

    When I click on the link .W Hermann, Die Kirche der Thomaschristen, I am taken to google book search webpage.(beta). There is no tab for read or download. Am I getting the right page ?

    About the rock cross at Champakulam church-

    According to tradition, the church was established in AD 427. The mother parish was Niranom church. According to the inscriptions on the base of the open rock cross, the present church was built in AD 1151. This rock cross was placed on the east side of the church. ( not clear whether it was placed in AD 1151 or later). In AD 1821, when the madbaha was rebuilt, (probably to match the norms of the Portuguese), the cross was taken down. In 1857,when the cemetery was built , the cross was placed at the present position.
    This inscription confirms that there was a church building work done in AD1151 but it does not clearly say that the cross was there in AD 1151.
    I do not think this is a European import, but it may be an Indian adoption as many places, these rock crosses are used to give offerings like burning oil wicks etc as seen in Hindu culture/religion. Further more, in many places, there are Persian crosses, lotus, peacocks etc also inscripted on the platform which rules out any possibilities of a European origin.

  14. Admin says

    Dear M Thomas Antony

    Please try the following links and see if it works. For reading the book ( PDF) , or on Text mode.Try this for downloading the book (PDF)

  15. Admin says

    Dear M Thomas Antony

    There is a short narration on Calucate ( Kalloorkad or Champakulam) which is in the lands of the King of Porca ( Purakkad) . It says “besides the things which he commonly did in the churches, he changed during Confirmation the names of the many persons, whco had the very sweet name of Jesus, which in their language is called Iyo ( Iso) and was very common before the Syond in all these Christians, especially those who were living in the South, but in the Synod it was laid down, that out of reverence for such a high name, nobody should have it. Also in this church the Archbishop found many poor orphan girls, whom he endowed and helped with comfortable marriages, which he performed with his hands before going away”.

    Even when discussing the different events relating to the visits in churches the central point of Gouvea writing is Menezes personal achievement. Malekandathil gives us some details about the biographical studies conducted on Menezis. Menezis was made as the Governor of Portuguese India ( 1607-09) . After two years, in 1611, he was made the Archbishop of Braga. and then eventually the viceroy of Portugal ( 1614-1671) and ruled the entire Portugal and its overseas territories as the representative of the Spanish crown.

    Dear John Mathew

    Thanks for the tips and the outline of W Hermann. This translation appears to be a lengthy process and with many page numbers might take some time for me.

    I am planning to read Malekandathil, “St. Thomas Christians and the Indian Ocean” and will update if I can get something more on the dates.

    Summary of Menezes activities can also be read in The History of the Church of Malabar by Michael Geddes and The History of Christianity in India by James Hough

  16. John Mathew says

    From Admin’s report on the contents of the Jornada, it seems that the southern churches were more receptive to Menezes than the northern ones. However, it seems that presently the stronghold of the Syro-Malabar is in the north (relatively … Kottayam-Ernakulam) and that the south (Kollam-Alleppey) has a stronger Orthodox presence. (Are there any Syro-Malabar Churches in Kollam?)

    Any ideas on how this inversion occurred? Was it the Coonen Cross revolt? If so, why (i.e., if the south were appreciative of Menezes attention and disinterested in the archdeacon’s party, as the Jornada reports, why would they turn?).

  17. s john says

    hello every one,

    i am new visitor to the nasrani.net. I gone through part of it and came out confused. Actually who can be termed in Kerala as a real “Nasrani Christian”?.

    I am not a great fan of all these things, but a lot of people around me are passionate about it. My father and mother is from the ancient places you mentioned in above posts like “Arakuzha” and ‘Mylukombu” respectively and they practice the Syro Malabar version of history.

    Thanks and cheers


  18. Joy Abraham Kallivayalil says

    I am passionately interested in church history, but am aghast while reading the many histories written in Malayalam. Almost all are intended to proclim that their own faction is the only original church

  19. John Mathew says


    No need to read Malayalam texts. Start with Mackenzie, Logan and Burnell, and then look at their list of references, and go through them. You’ll learn far more than the crooked partial histories written by the (often lazy) Kerala pseudo-scholars, most of whom rely on third party sources and “oral tradition”—the latter of which is almost completely useless.

  20. Admin says

    Dear Kurien Koshy

    This was a delegation send to the Persian King Shah Abbas the great who was the ruler of Persia from 1587 to 1629 for their fight against the common enemy, the turks. ( Post- 10849).

  21. Admin says

    Dear John Mathew

    This is response to your Post- 11970. I think it was not immediately after the Coonen Cross revolt.

    This is something we can only evaluate by considering churches one by one. I have read this about Kollam Church in one of the essays of Fr. Placid ( The Latin rite Christians of Malabar by Dr. Placid) .

    The Church at Quilon was with Catholics side after the Coonen Cross oath. The old church at Quilon ( part of the seven churches) which was at Quilon Port was exchanged with Portuguese, after their domination in the area as Syrians did not want to mix with the Portuguese. This old church went to latin side by this exchange ( only the church building not the people) and was first used by Portuguese and later on by their converts.

    The Syrians constructed a new Church and moved outside the fortress. There was a later claim by the missionaries of the latin church that the rights conferred on the Copper plates were for the Church and now the Church is under their possession. This claim was to get the rights against the new Church Syrians constructed outside the fortress. This was contested and a decision was taken in favor of Syrians in Catholic ecclesiastical circles that the privileges were for the People and as Syrians moved to the new church their new church enjoy the rights. The old church which was believed to be part of the seven churches established by Apostle which came under Portuguese control was taken by sea later on.

    Fr. Placid Quotes the letters of Fr. Campori written on August 20, 1618 that “ Formerly there were very large number of Christians in Quilon…. But after the coming of the Portuguese and as a sequel of wars their number was greatly diminished. They are very few now and those very few assemble in a Church they have built outside the fortress in upper Coulam”

    So what I understand is after the Coonan Cross of 1653, the Prelates of Cranganore did not paid sufficient attention to the Christians of North. As a result the Church of Thiruvamcode became Jacobite. The Saint Thomas Christians of Quilon migrated to Chathannur, Kallada further north and gradually became Jacobite. The Church at Quilon went in to ruins due to neglect. In its place later on the Mudalali ( descendants of 8-9th century immigrants) family put up a new Church and this is the present Tharise Church.

    I can be wrong but from the above, change seem to have happened later may be in 18th century. I don’t know if there are some other information’s about Tharise Church .It would be great if some one can point out corrections. If I am not wrong, Quilon was the smallest diocese when the initial dioceses were formed among Jacobite.

  22. Devassy says

    Hi ,
    Does the syrian christians of thrissur district got latin admixture?this is asked since archdeacons and syrian christians shifted to south.I am from manaloor, thrissur.although the claims of st.thomas christianity is here,i doubt whether how many of us can claim genuine syrianness?

    other doubt is ,how come eastern parts of kottyam district which were forests even till 40-50 years got so many syrian christians?where they migrated from thrissur?

  23. B0bby Thomas says

    Jornada of Dom Alexis de Menezes: A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth century Malabar edited by Dr. Pius Malekandathil
    I am interested to buy a copy. Could you give me details. I am in Trivandrum.

    Bobby Thomas

  24. Kokkarani says

    It says In 1520, this was accomplished with the help of Chaldean prelate Mar Jacob Abuna. When was Caldean church formed? In1553 right? Please make it straight. Thanks

  25. Kokkarani says

    St.Thomas christians were always in relationship with the Assyrian church or Church of Antioch (regionally this is correct) NOT the Chaldean church which was formed in 1553. Synod of Diamper was in 1599. Mar Abraham may the only Chaldean bishop possible to come in Malankara. This also needs more research. Until the arrival of Portuguese Malnkara church never heard of Roman Catholics. The Only possibility of a Chaldean Bishop to come to Malankara is from 1553 to 1599.

  26. Joseph Edayadil says

    Good initiative!

  27. Jacob Varghese says

    The fact that Malankara Church never knew of Roman Church till the
    Portuguese came here is true.But from the 7th century onwards Chaldean bishops visited here.And they were well received inMalankaraon the assumption that they were from Antioch

    1. Dr. Kuruvilla A. Cherian says

      “Chaldean bishops visited here.And they were well received inMalankaraon the assumption that they were from Antioch”

      That’s a clever twist of a fact to falsely establish an Antiochian link prior to the Koonan Kurish Oath incident. Our ancestors were not that dumb to think that Persia is Antioch. Our primary pre-Portuguese ecclesial connections were with the Church of the East in Persia, though we had visitors from other churches; for example In AD 190, Pantaenus from Alexandria visited our ancestors – the Nazarene Christians in Malabar. He found that they were using the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew language. Prior to the Church of the East, the connection was therefore with the Hebrew speaking Nazarenes in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem links faded probably with the disappearance of Nazarene Jewish Christians in the fourth century, when they had to flee to Pella and beyond. (See “Nazarene Jewish Christianity” By Dr. Ray Pritz). It is very interesting and intriguing to note that while the Nazarene Jewish Community fled/disappeared from the holy land in the 4th century, there are substantiated reports of the Nazarenes of Malabar being strengthened by immigrant communities from the middle east, also in the fourth century! See the connection?!

  28. Megha says

    Where can I find a copy of this book by pius malekandathil , not getting in online or online store to buy kindly reply