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

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A version of this paper has been published in Oriantalia Christiana Analecta 311 published by Pontifical Oriental Institute Rome in 2022. (Martin Thomas Antony, Sounds Sentiments and Melodies of the Syriac Aramaic Chants: Model of grass-root liturgical revival in the Syro Malabar Church, in Emidio Vergani and Sabino Chiala, (Eds) Symposium Syriacum XII, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 311, Pontificio Instituto Orientale Roma 2022 pp 105-118)


Kerala, the south Indian state on the Malabar coast of India is known as the cradle of Christianity in  India. Saint Thomas Christians of India are one of the most ancient Christian communities in the world.  The ancient Christianity of Kerala was founded by Saint Thomas the Apostle, who is considered the Father of Syriac Christianity[1]. Along with the Churches of Edessa, Seleucia Ctesiphon and Fars, the Church in India also used Syriac Aramaic as the language of worship. It was in the East Syriac dialect of Syriac Aramaic that the worship and spirituality developed in these regions. Hence, it is called the East Syriac rite.

It is highly likely that the early Christianity in India developed in the Syriac rite. The abundance of loan Syriac words in South Indian languages like Tamil and Malayalam, and the lack of local ecclesiastical words in these languages point towards a Syriac origin. The Tamil word for the cross -Siluvai- a corrupted pronunciation of Sliva is the best example. If the origin was in a South Indian language, such ecclesiastical words would have developed in the local languages. There is a lot of evidence to show that traders from Mesopotamia settled in the Malabar coast as early as the 10 century BC[2] and we could assume that the Apostle Thomas came in search of them. Recent excavations in “Pattanam” also support this theory[3].

Western colonial Missionary Enterprise and the Saint Thomas Christians.


In AD 1498, Vasco Da Gama, the Portuguese traveller arrived in Kerala. Following the traders and soldiers, Missionaries also arrived to India. They started with a friendly phase[4] with the local native Christians but later began to subjugate them. The Portuguese Roman Catholic Missionaries used all their might to subjugate the native Syriac Christians and to convert them to Roman Catholicism of the Latin tradition. The Synod of Diamper in AD 1599 gave an accelerated framework  for suppressing the Syriac tradition and promoting latinisations.[5]

This caused revolts and divisions. On January 3rd, 1653, almost the entire community of native Saint Thomas Christians took an oath called the Coonan Cross Oath at Mattancherry and declared that they would not have any relation with the Jesuit Roman Catholic Missionaries[6]. This great revolt stunned the Roman Catholic Church. Subsequent interventions by Rome[7] to pacify the situation and certain religio[8] political[9] circumstances lead to the majority of Saint Thomas Christian returning  under the Portuguese Padruado rule. A section of the community evolved into an independent local church which later joined the West Syriac Church of Antioch.

Those Saint Thomas Christians who returned under the  Portuguese Padroado rule, however, did not want to leave their  age old Syriac tradition and worship. They always proclaimed that from time immemorial, their forefathers worshipped in the Syro Chaldean  [10] and they even considered themselves as a community of Chaldeo- Syriac or even as a race or in the contemporary socio cultural milieu, as a caste of Chaldeo- Syriac, though they were ethnically South Indian. One of the fierce fighters for the Syriac tradition, Palakkunnel Mathai Mariyam Cathanaar even wrote in 1876 in his diary that “my blood is Syro Chaldean”.![11]

By  prohibiting the Bishops from Babylon from arriving to Kerala using political power and appointing Latin Bishops from Europe, the Portuguese Missionaries tried to undermine the Syriac language and tradition and started Latinising the Syrian Church, but the native Christians resisted and fought for the independence and self administration of the Church[12]. The Missionaries had to learn the Syriac language to win over the native Christians. Archbishop Ros who was the first Latin Prelate who ruled the undivided Saint Thomas Christians  in the immediate post Diamper period was very proficient in the Syriac language and was able to celebrate the Liturgy in Syriac[13]. The Missionaries had to translate the Latin elements into Syriac language to make those changes acceptable to the Thomas Christians[14]. Archbishop Ros in 1619 wrote to the Jesuite General that ‘the Serra[15] (Malankara/Malabar) must be kept in its Chaldean form[16]‘.

The missionaries set up a few Seminaries in Kerala at various time periods and trained Thomas Christians students in Latin theology[17]. They also sent several youngsters from the Saint Thomas Christian community  to Rome to undergo training in the Latin rite so that they can return and train the native students.[18] But the community as a whole was very unhappy and distressed with these and  they even refused to accept those Thomas Christian Priests who were trained in Latin seminaries.

There were several attempts from the Catholic Syro Chaldean Rite Saint Thomas Christians to recapture the Syriac traditions by reconnecting with the Church in the Babylon of the Catholic Chaldaic rite. The visits of Mar Simon of Ada   in 1701 from the Patriarchate of the Chaldeans and also  Mar Gabriel in 1705  from Babylon were the results of these attempts. Delegations were sent to the Patriarchate of Chaldeans to fetch Bishops that resulted in consecration of Paulose Pandari who was one of the members of the delegation from Malabar in February 1798.[19] Appointments of Mar Thomas Rokos in 1861 and Mar  Elia Melus in 1874 from the Patriarchate of Chaldeans as Patriarchal visitors to Malabar were also results of these attempts. All these failed due to the resistance and heavy handedness of the Missionaries but resulted in Rome thinking seriously to create a hierarchy[20] for the Thomas Christians to protect their rite and age old customs.

The Church under the Native Bishops.

These efforts of Latinisation by the Missionaries became successful only when the Catholic Saint Thomas Christians came under the native prelates in AD 1896. This was achieved by the Missionaries by training the native priests and providing strict Latin formation for a generation of clergy and elevating only the strongly latinised clergy to Episcopacy. When the Thomas Christians were under the European Prelates, their clergy and the faithful were united together to fight for the preservation of the Syriac language and for protecting the identity and independence of the Church. Still, even after the Latinisation by the native Prelates, the Liturgy was celebrated in Syriac language with some added Latin elements translated into Syriac. The native Priests were well proficient in Syriac language and they even were able to read the Gospel in Syriac and translated live to Malayalam for the ordinary faithful[21]. The native Bishops even asked Rome to translate the order of Episcopal Consecration of Roman rite into Syriac language for use in Syro Malabar Church[22]. This could be because such a text was not available as manuscripts and there wasn’t any contact with the Church in Babylon. There was also a fear of Chaldean jurisdiction from the part of the hierarchy, if the Church adopted the Chaldean Syriac liturgy.[23]

The Roman Curia, by this time, recognised the existence of Eastern Churches and started thinking about preserving them rather than Latinising them. Pope Benedict XV erected the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches in AD 1917 suppressing the oriental section of the Propaganda Fide and all Eastern Churches were placed under the authority of the congregation.[24] Their intention was to correct the mistakes of the past and to de-latinise the Eastern Churches. The Roman Pontiffs advised the Syro Malabar Church to turn away from Latinisations and to recapture the lost  and preserve its Syriac tradition, but the leadership became strongly Latinised by then and a section in the hierarchy resisted, refused to proclaim the historical Syriac nature of the Church. But ordinary clergy and the faithful  kept  their fond memories of the glorious Syriac past.

Vernacularisation of Liturgy and decline of Syriac language.


All denominations of the Syriac Churches of Malabar used some form of Syriac Aramaic as the language of worship until they vernacularised their liturgy in the early 1960s[25]. Since then, there has been a rapid decline in the use of Syriac language and even seminaries did not teach Syriac properly. The Latinised Hierarchy even tried to introduce new ecclesiastical terms in the Malayalam language replacing the commonly used age old, loan Syriac words such as Qurbana, Mamodeesa, Opp roosma, Sleeha, Sleeva, Nivia, Sahada, Anneeda, Qabar, Isho, Misiha, etc.  Even the Latin Church in Kerala also uses such Syriac ecclesiastical words today. It is very interesting to see  the use of Latin terms like Ladinj, vespara, kompiriya, laithoran, kaplon etc. in the pomp notices of the feasts of Syro Malabar parishes while taking meticulous care in omitting the common ecclesial Syriac terms which are popular.

With vernacularisation of Liturgy, the Syriac language and chants faded away from the Church life. On rare occasions like funeral of the rich and prestigious, Holy Raza in Syriac was celebrated in the early period after transition to Malayalam language. In a few years, Syriac language disappeared from the spiritual life.

The so called Indianisation and Inculturation- Apoptotic pathway.

The Syro Malabar Church, lost its identity due to the strict Latinisation and Latin formation of the Clergy and became an off shoot of the Latin Church. Fr Hambye SJ wrote,


“More than any other Eastern Churches in communion with Rome, the Syro Malabar Church had almost entirely lost its basic character as an Oriental reality. That loss affected not only the Liturgy, but also the spirituality, theology and law. Its own people hardly knew that they were oriental. After having been told during so many centuries,  that everything oriental was wrong, backward, unworthy of Catholics,  one wonders how  some clergy and laity  could still hope for a restoration.[26]

When the Catholic Syriac Bishops were given titles like Cardinal, the hierarchy competed with each other for further latinisations. There was also an attempt  to make a single rite for India by the so called Indianisation and  inculturation and to merge with the Latin rite of India, once they  also are  sufficiently Indianised to create an Indian rite.[27] But Rome strongly discouraged it. These attempts were observed by the Sacred Congregation for the Divine Liturgy as “abusive Indianisations” and were prohibited by a letter to Cardinal Joseph Parecattil on 14/06/1975[28].In another letter, The Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches on 19 June 1978 strictly prohibits the use of “Short Mass” and “Indian Mass” and commented that ‘arbitrary innovations or such as are incompatible with sound and genuine tradition are not to be indulged in[29]‘.

Even when the Liturgy was translated to Malayalam, most of the chants were beautifully translated with the same old tunes, thanks to Fr Abel Periappuram. He translated many Syriac chants to Malayalam in the same tune which was used in the liturgy. When the Hierarchy went after ideas of modernisation and Indianisation  with an aim of unification with the Latin rite of Kerala, some of these chants were replaced with popular music tunes and Karnatic music ‘ragas’ and ‘talas’   but the services for the dead remained unchanged with old syriac tunes.[30] Thus, instead of the ancient Syriac tunes, new and modern tunes were introduced and many new songs were written with no connection with the Liturgy or theology, for use in the Holy Qurbana, forgetting the fact that Liturgical chants are actually Liturgical prayers sung in a chant form. This resulted in severe anarchy and the Celebration of Holy Qurbana lost its liturgical and theological discipline.

During the process of vernacularisation, there was a systematic attempt to replace the Syriac chant tradition with popular music. The Hierarchy even hired a Karnatic Musician K K Antony master to work with Fr Abel Periappuram and produced a number of hymns for liturgical and para liturgical purposes[31] that can be used commonly for the Latin rite and the Syro Malabar Church.

Later, Syro Malabar Church was elevated into a Sui iuris Church with a Major Archi Episcopal status and related autonomy and synod but the hierarchy by this time forgotten the Glory of the Syriac past and became ‘Zero Malabar’ !. But still the faithful and  the older clergy fondly remembers the Syriac chants and tunes. Even though the Synod erected a Liturgical Research Centre to promote  and preserve the ancient traditions, there was no serious attempt to reintroduce Syriac elements in the worship, but there are initiatives to invent new anaphora in the name of Indianisation and inculturation and modernisation but with an intention of merely imitating the Latin Church.

Attempts for  the revival of Syriac traditions.

Rev Dr Placid Podipara, a holy luminary of Saint Thomas Christians of India[32] and the father of Modern Syro Malabar Church[33] was one of the initial and a major catalyst for the revival of the Syriac heritage in Syro Malabar Church. With his research and scholarship, Fr Placid was the moving force behind the restoration of the Liturgy and Pontificals of the Syro Malabar Church to its genuine purity from the mutilated and Latinised state.  He worked for the genuine rights of the Syro Malabar Church and dreamed the Church raising into the Glory of its own  Patriarch or Major Archbishop as the Father and Head with the ancient title of the Metropolitan and Gate of All India. Saint Thomas Apostolic Seminary at Vadavathoor,  Kottayam was founded to foster the oriental traditions and spirituality.

When Cardinal Eugene Tisserant was the Secretary,  the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches took initiatives to restore the Holy Eucharistic Liturgy and the Liturgy of Hours to the pre Latinised status. Cardinal Tisserant visited Kerala and Pope Pius XII in 1954 erected a commission for editing the Liturgical texts of Syro Malabar Church to its original purity. In 1959-60, the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches published the Ordo Celebrationis Qudasa and the Supplimentum Mysteriorum comprising official text for the three ancient Anaphorae used in Malabar namely Anaphora of Mar Addai and Mari, Anaphora of Theodore of Mopseustia and the Anaphora of Nestorius which were already approved by Pope Pius XII on June 26, 1957.[34] The Latinised Syro Malabar Hierarchy had lot of disagreements to this but they officially published the simpler form of this text in Syriac and Malayalam on the July 3rd of 1962. The Hierarchy, in line with the Decrees of the second Vatican Council, initiated a revision and in 1968, a revised text was published on which eminent Liturgist J Madey commented that they were mere adaptations of the Roman Rite Mass[35]. In 1986, the Holy Raza of the Syro Malabar Church was restored and Saint Pope John Paul II officially introduced it by celebrating the Holy Raza in Kerala on the 8th of February 1986 at Kottayam during his Pontifical visit to India. The restored Raza restored many of the ancient Syriac chants and tunes.

As part of the restoration of Liturgy, the Liturgy of hours were restored and were translated into Malayalam in the 1990s . The Syriac chants for the Liturgy of hours were translated to Malayalam and a CD was released for the use of the religious community.

New model of reformation- Revival of Syriac chants from the grass root level.

Now, a new model of reformation is happening in the Church where, common people and priests  are reviving and promoting  the old Syriac tradition and the Eucharistic Liturgy in the Syriac language is increasingly getting popular. Also, Syriac chants are being incorporated in the vernacularised Liturgy without  any official orders from the hierarchy. This is due to the interest of a few clergy and  older  generation of people who lived through the transition of Liturgy from Syriac to vernacular still hold the fond memories of it. If this movement is not promoted, it will be lost forever as the  younger generation will not have any experience of the Syriac Aramaic worship.

Efforts of Rev Dr Joseph Palackal and Christian Musicological Society of India and the Aramaic project.

Rev Dr Joseph Palackal, a renowned musician Priest and founder of Christian Musicological Society of India who, as a part of his Doctoral thesis in Musicology, started research on the Syriac chants and melodies among Saint Thomas Christians and released a CD with the title Qambel Maran in 2002 with 29 ancient Syriac chants prevalent among the Catholic Syriac Christians of Kerala, the Syro Malabar Church. A celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy of Syro Malabar Church was also recorded by the Christian Musicological Society, sung by Rev Fr George Plathottam of the Eparchy of Palai in 2006.

Rev Dr Palackal went further with his research and founded the Aramaic Project to research, preserve and revive the Syriac Aramaic tradition in worship. His researches into the grass root level revealed a surprisingly large mass of people still keeping their fond memories of their childhood with Syriac Aramaic worship. Fr Palackal has made a large number of video recordings of interviews with people of different strata of life like Priests, Nuns, common faithful, choir members and so on about the Syriac traditions and syriac chants.  Of note are, a retired faithful laity Mr Sebastian Menacherry remembers many rare ancient syriac chants from his childhood. He even remembers some chants that were sung only once a year, like Palm sunday celebrations in Syro Malabar Church[36]. Another ordinary house wife who was born and bought up at Truppunithura, in another recording sings Syriac chants from her memory from childhood. These show that the chant tradition, its melodies and sounds are still a sentiment in the minds of ordinary faithful.

These are available at the webpage of Christian Musicological Society of India . and the Aramaic Project

Rev Fr George Plathottam.

Rev Fr George Plathottam was a Syriac teacher at the Minor seminary at Palai. Fr Plathottam was one among the senior priests who used to celebrate Holy Qurbana in the Syriac language. A video recording of the celebration of Holy Qurbana in Syriac was made by the Christian Musicological Society in 2006. An audio recording of the Holy Qurbana in Syriac was then  released by Rev Fr Plathottam in 2006 which became very popular among the common people due its beauty and richness.

Since then, a raised interest in Syriac worship evolved among a few Clergy and regular celebration of the Holy Eucharistic Liturgy in Syriac began in certain Churches like the Marth Mariam Church at Kuravilangadu. Priests like late Rev Fr George Plathottam, Rev Fr Sebastian Sankoorickal of the Arch Eparchy of Ernaculam, Narivelil Mathai cathanaar of the Eparchy of Palai,  Fr Jose P Kottaram of the Arch Eparchy of Changanacherry, Rev Fr Jacob Vellian of the Arch Eparchy of Kottayam  are few of them. This has inspired the younger generation priests also to learn the Syriac language. The Eparchy of Kanjirappalli has started using Syriac chants in the celebration of Holy Qurbana on all feasts and special occasions.

Dayara Movement and Syriac schools- Koonammakkal Thoma Cathanaar and Rev Dr Xavier Koodapuzha.

A few dedicated learned Clergy like Rev Dr Thomas Koonammakkal and Rev Dr Xavier Koodapuzha founded dayaras to revive the monastic tradition of Syro Malabar Church and started Syriac Schools to teach the  language and spirituality to the ordinary faithful. The  Beth Aprem Nasrani Dayara at  Kuravilangadu was founded by Koonamaakkal Thoma Cathanaar. This could be considered as the revival of the ancient Monastery of Kuravilangadu founded by Mar Younan, the East Syrian Monk who arrived in AD 903. At Beth Aprem Nasrani dayara, all the worship are in Syriac language. There is regular Syriac teaching every Sunday and regular full day seminar on East Syriac Spirituality and Nasrani history on the second Saturday of every month, both are attracted by many interested common people.

Rev Dr Xavier Koodapuzha has founded a Mar Thoma Sleeha dayara at Nallathanni near Mundakkayam where genuine East Syriac spirituality is practiced and transferred to ordinary people. A faith community also has evolved at Tharakanattukunnu at Chenappady  affiliated to Mar Thoma Sleeha dayara where regular Syriac study and faith formation are facilitated[37].

Beth Thoma dayara is a monastery for women at Palamattom, Changanacherry, founded by Archbishop Joseph Powathil and Rev Dr Varghese Pathikulangara. They teach Syriac language and prayers and all the prayers are in syriac language.

Mar Sliva dayara at Adoor is another centre evolved to facilitate syriac studies.

At Thalayolaprambu in the Arch Eparchy of Ernakulam, with the initiatives of the local Parish Priest and common faithful, Syriac language is taught on a regular basis.

Among the migrants, there is a community of Syro Malabar youth in Bangalore who assemble regularly to celebrate the Liturgy of hours and to learn Syriac language regularly. Rev Dr Varghese Pathikulangara CMI and Rev Dr Thomas Kalayil CMI support them.

There are a few more faith formation centres and Syriac schools evolved now in various parts of Kerala and a number of faithful are learning the language and to revive the Syriac Aramaic worship in Syro Malabar Church.

It is wonderful that this is a real Liturgical reform from the Grass root level, the ordinary faithful and some clergy to revive the ancient language and worship in a situation where the real Syriac speaking communities and Churches are persecuted in the Middle east and are in a plight for their life.

Syriac revival in the Arch Eparchy of Ernakulam.

Arch Eparchy of Ernakulam is well known for the fact that there is a lobby of clergy who are very strongly latinised and keenly imitate and promote Latin practices forgetting the authentic identity and traditions of  the Church of Saint Thomas Christians. It is very interesting to note that in such an Eparchy, there are many parishes where the ordinary faithful still preserve their age old Syriac chants and traditions.

At Saint Mary’s Church at Palluruthy, also known as Suriyani Palli, the ancient Syriac Chant Beda d’ yawman was sung regularly on their feast day for several years. The Choir master Baby Anamthuruthil has now trained the younger generation there to sing this chant[38].

At Saint Joseph’s Church Kadavanthara, Rev Fr Thomas Perumayan took special interest to teach a few Syriac chants to the catechism students and regularly sings Lacu Mara, kandisa Alaha etc on the Holy Qurbana on Sundays for the Catechism students[39].


Initiatives from the Church.

Mar Thoma Vidyanikethan in the Arch Eparchy of Changanacherry is an Institute for Oriental Theolgical studies for the lay faithful. There are similar initiatives from the Eparchy of Palai and Eparchy of Kanjirappalli. Recently, with the interest of a few Priests in the Eparchy of Kanjirappalli, Nazrani Research Centre[40] was founded to facilitate studies in Syriac language and  Liturgical music,   Liturgical catechesis, Library and research centre and a Retreat centre based on the Liturgical Spirituality of Syro Malabar Church.

Now, the Liturgical Research Centre of the Holy Synod of Syro Malabar Church has also initiated with Mar Valah Syriac Academy to promote Syriac language and conduct Syriac study camps.[41]

Developments among migrant communities.

Migrant Syro Malabar communites are also not different. In North America, in many places, there is an elevated interest to learn the Syriac chants. At the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D. C. ( during the  Sixteenth Annual Pilgrimage to our Lady of Good Health, Annai Velankanni, organized by the Indian American Catholic Association (IACA), on 7 September 2013, in a Holy Eucharistic Liturgy  of the Syro Malabar Church in English language celebrated by the Father and head of Syro Malabar Church, Major Archbishop Giwargis Alencherry with  Donald Cardinal Wuerl and  Bishop Jacob Angadiath, incorporated many Syriac chants. The Holy Qurbana begun with the chant Pukdanacon[42].

Rev Dr Joseph Palackal, during his visit to the UK in 2015 celebrated the English version of the Holy Eucharistic Liturgy of Syro Malabar Church with Syriac chants incorporated at the Festival of Eastern Catholic Churches organised by the Society of Saint John Chrysostom at the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cathedral at Central London on the 1st August 2015[43]  and the celebration of Syro Malabar day at Warrington near Liverpool . These attracted many English Catholics and even a local Choir member at Warrington, Ann  learned the syriac chants and lead the choir during the Celebration of the Syro Malabar Day at Warrington on 26 July 2015.

Festival of eastern Catholic Churches, Society of Saint John Chrysostom, London, 01 August 2015

Syro Malabar Day, Warrington, UK 26 August 2015

Rev Dr Lonappan Arangasserry, the Syro Malabar Chaplain of the Shrewsbury- Manchester Birkenhead area, part of the new Syro Malabar Eparchy of Great Britain has taken initiatives to include syriac chants in the Holy Qurbana on Sundays. During the recent Consecration ceremony of Mar Joseph Srampikkal, the first Bishop of the Eparchy of Great Britain, Laku Mara, kandisa Alaha etc were sung in Syriac.

This has gone to a stage that this Syriac revival influencing even the Malayalam film industry that in  a recent Malayalam language movie called ‘Appavum Veenjum’, the title song itself is the syriac chant ‘Avun D’vashmayya’, the Lord’s prayer in Syriac Aramaic.

It is both noteworthy and  wonderful that this Liturgical reformation and restoration of identity did not come from the hierarchy or the Liturgical Research Centre (LRC), but from the grass root level, and from ordinary people who still keep their fond memories of Syriac and a few interested priests. This is really a liturgical reformation from the grass root level through the revival of Syriac language and worship.


Thanks to Rev Dr Joseph Palackal and The Christian Musicological Society for permission to use the video recordings.

Thanks to Mr Mathew Mailapparampil  for reviewing the paper, opinions and language corrections.

( An abridged version of this paper was presented in the XII Symposium Syriacum & Congresso Internazionale Di Studi Arabo-Cristiani organised by The Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome on 19 August 2016 along with screening of  a short film produced by the Aramaic Project of the Christian Musicological Society of India. See the picture and the link to the short film below.)

End Notes.

[1] Syriac Christianity evolved in and around Edessa. Saint Thomas founded Churches in Persia and India, Mar Addai, a disciple of Apostle Thomas founded Church in Edessa, Mar Mari, a disciple of Addai founded Church is Seleucia. Thus, Churches in  Eddessa, Persia, India and Seleucia  became Thomasine Churches. All the Syriac Churches evolved from Thomasine Churches., even the Syriac Orthodox of the Antiochien Rite and the Maronites. Syriac Orthodox and Maronites became Ephesan Churches while Seleucia Ctesiphone became Anti Ephesian. Maronits always held the Syriac rite, but the Syriac Orthodox had to change their liturgy  and to adopt  a syriac translation of the Antiochien Liturgy of Saint James. ( Paul Bradshaw, Maxwell E Johnson, Eucharistic Liturgies: Their evolution and interpretation, Liturgical press p 166 explains the similarities of the Liturgy of Addai and Mari to that of the Maronite Liturgy raising the argument that these have a common origin. Also, the Syriac Orthodox translation of Saint James liturgy.

[2] Rev Dr Thomas Koonamaakkal, Judeo Christian and Patristic roots of Saint Thomas Christians,

[3] J Cherian, Pattanam excavations and explorations 2007 &2008; an overview, Space, Time, Place, Third International conference on remote sensing in Archaeology, Ed Stephano Campana,Maurizio Fotre, Claudia Liuzza,BAR international series 2118, 2010, pp 269-74.

[4] George Schurhammer, The three letters of Mar Jacob, the Bishop of Malabar  1503-1550, Gregorianum, vol 14 No 1 1933, pp62-84

Letter is kept in B V., Codex  vatic. fondo siriaco 204, ff 154-160 cited by bFr Dr Varghese Puthusserry, Reunion efforts of Saint Thomas Christians of India 1750-1773) 2008, Mary matha  Publications,Thrissur, p 9 foot note 34

[5] Fr Dr Varghese Puthusserry, … opus cit p 10

The synod of Diamper, Dr George Madathikandam,  in Mar Thoma Margam, Ed Andrews Mekattukunnel,2012 Vadavathoor  Kottayam  p794-798

[6] The oath was rejecting Archbishop Garcia and the Jesuites. The contemporary accounts show that the meanifesto issued and exposed in public stated that  the Nasranis rejected Garcia and the Jesuites because they disobeyed the Pope and removed their Patriarch sent by the Pope from them.( Joseph Thekkedath, History of Christianity in India Vol 2 p 93 citing ARSI Goa vol 68-I, f.102:Sommaria Relacao da Christandade de Serra. Also f225:Garcia’s letter to Fr Hyacinth of Saint Vncent.. Also Historical Archives  of Goa, Livro das Moncoes vol 25, f 120) The Cathanaars and the people wrote to the Captain of Cochin later expressing their willingness to accept any other eeligious sent by the Pope as their Prelate, provided they knew syriac and not a Jesuite.The original of this letter is kept in  Historical Archives of Goa, Livreo Moncoes vol 25, f 121. Also, on the last day of Moonnu noyambu- the Three day fast of the Rogation of Ninevites, at the Church at Edappalli, Archdeacon Thomas Parambil, declared himself a Patriarch based on a letter by Mar Ahatalla, in which  it said the Pope authorised Mar Ahatalla to appoint Archdeacon a patriarch in case Mar Ahatalla dies and produced something made of silk and resembling a pallium and declared that the pallium was sent by the Pope.(Joseph Thekkedath, History of Christianity in India vol 2 p 98 citing Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu vol 68-If.119 Fr Barretto’s “Informatio de Statu….Serra.”Archivum S.  Congregationis pro Gentium Evangelizatione seu de Propaganda Fide Rome, Scrittuture Originali riferite nelle Congregazioni Generali, vol 234, f 239; Sebatiani’s letter to  Propaganda Fide on 01 January 1662. The original of this letter is found in APF , SOCG vol 234 f 354, an Italian translation is found  in ff 363-364. These shows that the Thomas Christians made this revolt against the Jesuites and their Archbishop garcia and not against the Pope.

[7] Rome sent Carmelites to handle the situation. Two Carmelite commissaries were sent to malabar- Hoeph Sebastiani and Vincent Hyacinth….

[8] Archdeacon Thomas parambil was declared as a Bishop but he wasa consecraed by 12 cathannars which was not a legitimate Bishopric consecration. The Portuguese used this as a major arguemt agaisnt thjomas This led majority to become loyal to sebastiani.

[9] Dutch captured Cochin nand orderd the Roman catholic Missionaries to leave Malabar. Thus, Bishop SEbastani had to leave and hre consecrated cathanaar Chandy parambil as the Bishop. Thus Chandy bacame the lone bishop with a legitimate Bishopric consecration whereas mar Thoma I was still waititng for a legitmate consecration.

[10] Rev Dr Placid Podipara, The Hierarchy of Syro Malabar Church in Collected Works of Rev DR Placis J Podipara CMI vol 1 Ed Dr Thomas Kalayil CMI, p 678 citing Giamil, narrates that in a letter sent by three Saint Thomas Christians in 1578 to Pope saying “Our prayeres are in the Syriac or Chaldean language which was handed over to us by our Lord Saint THomas  and we and our predecessors have been taught this language.”

[11] Palakkunnel  valiachante Nalagamam. (Malayalam) (Diary notes of Palakkunnel Mathai Mariyam Cathanaar) 2000, page 145. Palakkunnel mathai Mariyam Cathanaar was on the side of Mar Eliya Meloos who arrived to Malabar inn  1874 oct 2 as a Visitor of the Patriarch of Chaldeans . This caused a split in the Pazhayacoor community of saint Thomas VChristians with a section joined Mar meloos as he was from the patriaech of the Chaldeans and another section remained with the European Missionaries. As a good section joined Mar Melus, Rome intervened and sent Leo Meurin in 1876 as a visitor to Malabar to study about the problems with the Catholic Saint Thomas Christians of the  Chaldean Syriac rite. Msgr Leo Meurin persuaded Mathai Mariam Cathanaar to renounce Mar melus but the cathanaar wrote in his diaery, as my blood is Chaldean, I would not. This shows that the Catholic Syriac Christians considered  themselves as a caste chaldeo Syriac.

In a short treatise kept in the Bibliotheca Nacional in Lisbon, named Noticians do Reyno do Malabar, assumed to be written by Cathanaar Cariattil Joseph (later Archbishop Joseph cariattil) probably written before 1782″Syriac and Chadaic which are the languages of  the Rites of the native people of Malabar.” Rev Dr Placid Podipara CMI, The Hierarchy of Syro Malabar Church, Ch 4 in Collected Works of Rev DR Placid J Podipara CMI, vol 1 Ed Dr Thomas Kalayil CMI,San Jose Publications Mannanam Kottayam, 2007, p 680.citing Noticials do Reyno do Malabar pp9-10in Fondo Geral 536 f. 1-29 ed SR12, 851 ff kept in Bibliotheca Nacional Lisbon written before 1782.

[12] Fr. A Valignano wrote to his General 0n 16 Sep 1577 that the Saint Thomas Christians are very attached to Syriac  language.(DI X p 882 in History of Christianity in India vol 2 p 60.

[13] Joseph Thekkedathu  p 76

[14] Joseph Thekkedathu p77 Parts of the Roman ritual dealing with the administration of the sacraments together with  the exorcisms and blessings taken  from the Roman missal were printed in Syriac in 1606 period citing Fernao Guerreiro , Relacao ao anual II p 339

[15],,The Portuguese word ‘serra’ means mountain range. This word is seen in numerous Portuguese documents to denote Kerala- Malankara- the land of mountains

[16] Joseph Thekkedathu, p 87 letter on 21 Nov 1619

[17] Dr Joseph Muthanaatt, Priestly formation among saint Thomas Christians, in Mar Thoma Margam, the Ecclesial Heritage of Sait Thomas Christians, Vadavathoor, Kottayam, OIRSI, ED Andrews Mekkattukunnel. Franciscan Semi9nary at Kodungalloor (1541), also called College of Santiago, Jesuite SEminary at Vaippicotta (1581) (Vaippincptta seminary took some interst inn teaching Syriac language).Dominican Seminary at Kaduthuruthy (1629), Carmelite Seminary at Verapoly (1682), Seminary at Alengad (1766), Seminary at Puthenpally-1866 Seminary at Verapoly was shifter to Puthenpally.The Priestly formation among Saint THomas Christians were through Malpans who were older knowledgeable Priests.

[18] Fr Dr Varghese Puthusserry, opus cit, p129

[19] James Puliurumpil, History of Syro Malabar Church, OIRSI pp265-267

[20] Lonappan Arangasserry, Right to Rite, an unfinished agenda, OIRSI, 2012, p78.

[21] REv Dr Charles Pyngott, Malabar Sabha Puthiya Velichathiul Mal(Malabar Church in the new light) Kottayam 1995, Denha Services, Kottayam, p183 citing PF Archives SC Ind Ori 14 fol 996 R

[22] G Thadikatt, Liturgical Identity of Mar Thoma Nasrani Church, Kottayam, 2004, p 114, Paul Pallathu, Joseph Kollara, Roman Pontifical into Syriac and the beginning of Liturgical reform in the Syro Malabar Church, OIRSI 2012, p25

[23] Varghese Pathikulangara, Qurbana, Chaldeo Indian Liturgy vol 2, 1998 and 2007, p111.

[24] Paul Pallathu, Joseph Kollara, Roman Pontifical into Syriac and the beginning of Liturgical Reform in the Syro Malabar Churchm OIRSI Kottayam 2012, p14

[25] The Catholic Syrians and the Church of the East in India used the East Syriac version- the original language, but the Syriac Orthodox churches adopted the West Syriac dialect since they adopted the West Syriac  liturgy and traditions gradually from 17-18 centuries.

[26] Lonappan Arangasserry, Right to rite,An unfuinished agenda, OIRSI Kottaya, 2012, pp180-181 citing Hambye, Eastern Churches in India.

[27] Willaim Macomber, A History of Chaldean mass, Worship vol 51, No 2 , 1977,pp523-536.

[28] Xavier Koodapuzha, Roman Documents on the Syro Malabar Liturgy, OIRSI Kottayam, 1999, p25

[29] Xavier Koodapuzha, Roman Documents on the Syro Malabar Liturgy, OIRSI Kottayam, 1999, p 26

[30] Dr Antony Nariculam, Liturgical Music in Syro Malabar Church, Presentation in ILA Meeting, NBCLC Bangalore, 26-28 October 2007.

[31] Dr. Antony Nariculam, Liturgical Music in Syro Malabar Church, Presentation in ILA Meeting, NBCLC Bangalore, 26-28 October 2007.

[32] Rev Dr Thomas Kalayil, CMI in the preface to the Collected works of Rev Dr Placid J Podipara CMI , San jos Publications, Mannanam, 2007

[33] Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil, Metropolitan Emeritus of the Arch Eparchy of Changanacherry, in his oration at the funeral of Rev Dr Placid Podipara at Chethipuzha, on 29 April 1985 said, ” Fr Placid may be called the Father of the Syro Malabar Church because in all aspects, he is worthy to be ranked  among the Fathers of the Church.”- from “The Prophet of a prophet’ Dr Thomas Kalayil, biographical sketches and reminiscences, Collected works of Rev Dr Placid J Podipara CMI vil 1 p xxvii

[34] Rev Fr Joseph Kalathil, Restoration attempts of the Syro Malabar Qurbana, Dukhranan Liturgical online Journal, accessed on 21 October 2016.

[35] Rev Fr Joseph Kalathil, Restoration attempts of the Syro Malabar Qurbana, Dukhranan Liturgical online Journal, accessed on 21 October 2016.










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  1. Fr Kannampuzha says

    The team of editors may not be aware of the establishment of the Mar Walah Syriac Academy under the Liturgical Research Centre initiated by Rev Dr Peter Kannampuzha approved by the Synod of Bishops at the Mount St Thomas.

    1. M Thomas Antony says

      Can I point out that it is already in the paper under the heading “Initiatives from the Church”.

  2. John says

    In which church in India the above cross with Syriac inscriptions is located

    1. Dr. Martin Thomas Antony says

      The cross in the title picture is a modern replica on granite installed in a family house in Kerala.