|Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Church|
|Founder||St. Thomas the Apostle|
|Primate||Baselios Marthoma Didymos I|
|Possessions||United Arab Emirates, United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Singapore and Australia,|
|Language||Malayalam, English, Hindi,Konkani,Syriac|
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is popularly known as Indian Orthodox Church in the International Orthodox Communion of Churches. This Church is believed to have been founded by Apostle Thomas in his mission to India in the first century AD.
From the fourth century the Indian Church entered into a close relationship with the Persian or East Syrian Church. From the Persians, the Indians inherited East Syrian language and liturgies and gradually came to be known as Syrian Christians.
In the sixteenth century Roman Catholic missionaries came to Kerala. They tried to unite the Syrian Christians to the Roman Catholic Church and this led to a split in the community. Those who accepted Catholicism are the present Syro-Malabar Catholics.
In the seventeenth century the Church came to a relationship with the Antiochene Church. As a result of this relationship the Church received West Syrian liturgies and practices.
At present the Church is using the West Syrian liturgy. The faith of the Church is that which was established by the three Ecumenical Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381) and Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431).
This Indian Orthodox Church was known as Jacobite Church from 1665, until the adoption of new constitution of the church in 1934. This change was made in confirmation with its theological and traditional connections with other Orthodox church bodies of the world.
The church is theologically and traditional a part of the Oriental Orthodox Communion of Churches.The Indian Orthodox Church accepts the Alexandrian Christology, as does the Coptic Orthodox Church and its two sister churches, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Church.
The spiritual regional head of the church is the Catholicos of the East and the temporal head over the church assets is Malankara Metropolitan. Since 1934, both the titles vest in one person. The official title of the head of the Church is the "Catholicos of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan". The present Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan is Baselios Marthoma Didymos I, who was enthroned on 31 October 2005, at Parumala Church by the Holy Synod. Didymos I is the 111th Catholicos of the East in the lineage of Apostle Thomas; 6th Catholicos after its re-instatement in India and 19th Malankara Metropolitan.
The church uses the liturgy of Saint James, as does its sister church, the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. The Church in India was connected to the Church of East through the Catholicos of the East, existed in Edessa, Selucia, Tigris and Mosul in various intervals. Today the Church conducts liturgy in West Syriac, Malayalam, Hindi, and English.
The church has theological seminaries at Kottayam and Nagpur. The Church has dioceses and churches in most parts of India as well as in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Western Europe, Persian Gulf nations, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
The name, Malankara Orthodox Church, refers to St.Thomas Christians of India, that come under Catholicate of the East whose Supreme Head is His Holiness The Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan,with headquarters at Devalokam, Kottayam, Kerala, India.
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Thomas the Apostle
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Thomas the Apostle is credited by tradition for founding the Indian Church in 52 A.D. This Nasrani faith had many similarities to Judaism, and, owing to the heritage of the Nasrani people, developed contacts with the non-Chalcedonian religious authorities of Edessa, Mesopotamia.
The local church maintained its autonomous character under its local leader. When the Portuguese established themselves in India in the 16th Century, they found the Church in Kerala as an administratively independent community. Following the arrival of Vasco de Gama in 1498, the Portuguese came to South India and established their political power there. They brought missionaries to carry out evangelistic work in order to establish churches in communion with Rome under the Portuguese patronage. These missionaries were eager to bring the Indian Church under the Pope's control. They succeeded in their efforts in 1599 with the `Synod of Diamper'.The representatives of various parishes who attended the assembly were forced by Portuguese authorities to accept the Papal authority.
Following the synod, the Indian Church was governed by Portuguese prelates. They were generally unwilling to respect the integrity of the local church. This resulted in disaffection which led to a general revolt in 1653 known as "The Coonan Cross Oath". This demanded administrative autonomy for the local church. Since it had no bishop, it faced serious difficulties.
It appealed to several eastern Christian churches for help. The Antiochene Syrian Patriarch responded and sent metropolitan Mar Gregorios of Jerusalem to India in 1665. He confirmed Marthoma I as the bishop and worked together with him to organize the Church.
Until 1599, it depended on the Assyrian (Persian) Church for prelates to ordain its priests.
Archdeacon or Arkadayakon in Malayalam was “the prince and head of the Christians of Saint Thomas” and had such titles as Archdeacon and Gate of All India, Governor of India. He was the temporal ruler and administrator of the Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala. The Archdeacon was more of a secular ruler, having sanction of local Hindu rulers and he is said to have carried around a small army of few hundred Syrian Christian soldiers.
The earliest historical documents that shows the existence of Archdeacons is around the year AD 800. The Nestorian Patriarch Timothy I (780-826) wrote to the Archdeacon ( Arken), the Head of the Faithful in India, about the right norms to be followed in the ordination of the priests, bishops, metropolitans and patriarch.
After the arrival of the Portuguese, the records next mention Archdeacons. The following is a known list of Archdeacons in Malankara:
In 1653, following the Coonen Cross Oath the Malankara Church felt the need to have an indigenous bishop. The parish elders (Idavaka Mooppens) of the Church met together and elected Archdeacon Thoma Kathanar as their leader. This was followed by a general meeting at Allangad on 22 May 1653 where Archdeacon Thomas was elevated to the status of bishop with the title Mar Thoma I by laying on of hands of 12 leading priests of the Church. 
The other section of Christians under the Roman Catholic Church did not consider Mar Thoma I as a bishop due to the nature of his ordination and many of the revolters returned to the Roman Catholic Church between 1653 and 1665 as a result of the proseltysation efforts of the Carmelite missionaries send by Rome.. To confirm this rank, the Metropolitan and leaders of the Church together wrote letters to the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch to send a higher authority.Mar Gregorios Abdul Jaleel, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem arrived in 1665 and regularised the ordination of Mar Thoma I. This started the reign of the Marthoma methran of Pakalomattom family in Malankara.
It was important for Mar Thoma IV to monitor this bishop doctrinally and administratively. In confronting Mar Gabriel however, Marthoma IV found himself incompetent. He sent several appeals to the West Syrian Patriarch asking for help. But no reply or help came. He died on 24 March 1728 and is entombed at St.Mary’s Orthodox Church, Kandanadu.
Mar Dionysius(Marthoma VI) was captured by Thachil Matthoo Tharakan a prominent Roman Catholic St. Thomas Christian and forced to conduct a Latin Catholic mass. But he escaped because of a Hindu revolt led by Velu Thampi Dalawa. Died on 8 April 1808 and laid to rest at St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Puthencavu.
Until Marthoma IX, all Metropolitans came from the Pakalomattom family. The rise of Pulikottil Joseph Ramban changed this and the people identified him as their new leader. With him the tradition of Marthoma Metrans from Pakalomattom family came to an end.
The new bishops after Marthoma IX came from different families and they came to be known more popularly with the title Malankara Metropolitans rather than as Mar Thoma. Malankara Metropolitans started to be recognised by the secular rulers of Travancore and Cochin kingdoms, by a Royal Proclamation. Nevertheless the title Marthoma continues to be used by the Catholicos of the Indian Orthodox Church.
In 1795 the British captured Malabar, Kerala. In 1806, the British Governor General of India sent the Rev. Claudius Buchanan, an Anglican priest, to conduct research into the life of the ancient Church of St.Thomas in India. The Anglican missionaries were interested in the welfare of the Malankara Church, and they helped the church to start a theological seminary at Kottayam in 1815. Soon, however, the missionaries began to impose Protestant doctrines on the seminarians. As a result the Malankara church discontinued the association.
This eventually gave rise to the division of the community into three bodies.
The London Missionary Service was active in India. Bishop Norton inaugurated the first Anglican Church in Kerala at Thalavady in the house of one Itty Matthan Panickar. This church was later known as Christian Missionary Service and after Indian Independence it became the Church of South India. Later in the 19th century, exposure to the doctrines of the Church of England inspired a reform movement led by Abraham Malpan. This led to the formation of the Mar Thoma Church.
In 1912, the Catholicate of the East was revived in India. The Malankara Orthodox Church wanted to retain its autocephalous nature. It appealed to Patriarch Ignatius Abdul Masiha II of the Syriac Orthodox Church, who ordained Murimattathil Paulose Mar Ivanios as Baseliose Paulose, Catholicos of the East. The ceremony was held at St. Mary's Church, Niranam in 1912 .
The Metropolitan Bishopric of the United States and Canada was created in 1979 with the appointment of Thomas Mar Makarios to the new diocese. The first church of this diocese was consecrated in 1980 as the St. George Malankara Orthodox Church, located in New York.
Since the 17th century, the Malankara Orthodox Church uses the Syrian Orthodox Liturgy, which belongs to the Antiochene liturgical tradition. The East Syrian (Persian), Byzantine, Armenian, Georgian, Maronite liturgies also belong to the same liturgical family. In the first half of the fifth century, the Antiochene Church adopted the anaphora of Jerusalem, known under the name of St James, the brother of Our Lord. In the fourth and the fifth centuries, the liturgical language of Jerusalem and Antioch was Greek. Therefore, the original form of St James liturgy was composed in Greek.
Following the Council of Chalcedon (451), the Eastern Church was divided into two, one group accepting the council and the other opposing it. Both groups continued to use the Greek version of St James. The Byzantine emperor Justin (518-527) expelled the Non-Chalcedonians from Antioch and they took refuge in the Syriac speaking Mesopotamia on the Roman-Persian Border (modern Eastern Syria, Iraq and South East Turkey). Gradually, the Antiochene liturgical rites were translated into Syriac. New elements such as Syriac hymns were introduced into it.
Mar Gregorios of Jerusalem came to Malankara in 1665 and introduced Syrian Orthodox liturgical rites. The most striking characteristic of the Antiochene liturgy is the large number of anaphoras (Order of the celebration of the Eucharist). About 80 are known and about a dozen are used in India. All of them have been composed following the model of St. James Liturgy.
The word "Catholicos" means "The General Head". It can be considered as equivalent to "Universal Bishop". There were only three ranks of priesthood in the early Church: Episcopos (Bishop), Priest, and Deacon. By the end of the third century certain bishops of certain important cities in the Roman empire gained pre-eminence over other bishops and they came to be known as Metropolitans. The Ecumenical councils of the fourth century recognized the supreme authority of these Metropolitans. By the fifth century, the Bishops in major cities like Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch etc. gained control over the churches in the surrounding cities. Gradually they became the heads of each independent regional church and were called Patriarch which means common father. The same rank in the Churches outside the Roman Empire was called Catholicos. There were three ancient Catholicates in the Church before the fifth century. They were the Catholicate of the East, the Catholicate of Armenia and the Catholicate of Georgia. None of these ranks and titles are the monopoly of any church. Any Apostolic and national church has the authority to declare and call its head, Catholicos, Pope, or Patriarch.
St.Thomas established the church in India and is recognized as its first Head or Catholicos.
The reign of the Archdeacons started from the fourth century and lasted until the sixteenth century. The third stage started when the archdeacon was elevated to the position of a Bishop by the community with the name Marthoma I in 1653. Since then the head of the community was the Marthoma Metrans and later the position was developed to Malankara Metropolitan with more recognition.
In 1912, the Catholicate of the East was relocated to India, and Baselios Paulose I was seated on the Honorary Apostolic Throne of St.Thomas as the Catholicos of the East.
The Headquarters of the Indian Orthodox Church, named Devalokam is located at Kottayam, in Kerala. It is the official headquarters of the Catholicos Of The East who reigns on the Honorary Throne of St. Thomas, the Apostle, and was established on 31 December 1951.
The new Aramana which was built in 1961 was inaugurated by the visiting Armenian Catholicos Vazgen I.
A burial place for the interment of the Holy Fathers was constructed next to the Aramana by Baselios Ougen I Catholicos. The burial places of Baselios Geevarghese II and Baselios Ougen I were embossed with marble and made beautiful with ornate engravings. The room for tombs was widened in order to facilitate the interment of successors of the Catholicos.
The mortal remains of Baselious Geevarghese II, Baselious Augen I Baselious Marthoma Mathews I, and Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios Great Metropolitan of the West are entombed in the Catholicate Chapel. A portion of the holy relics of St. Thomas, the Apostle of India and Founder of the Church, is also kept in the chapel.
The Catholicos lineage starts from the Apostle Thomas, continuing with the bishops of Edessa and Archbishops in Selucia-Ctesiphon. In 410 AD, Isaac first used the title Catholicos. Since then, the Catholicos has claimed jurisdiction over all Christians of the East outside the Roman Empire.
This Catholicate resided in Persia until the end of the 19th century. In 1912 , the senior Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch  relocated the Catholicate to India. Catholicos Didymos I is the 111th Catholicos sitting on the throne of Saint Thomas. The Orthodox Catholicos is known also known as Maphrian to distinguish this church from the schismatic lineage formed in the latter half of the 5th century due to Nestorian influence.
To see the lineage of Catholicos: List of Catholicos of the East
Various theologians were involved in negotiations between the Oriental Orthodox and the Byzantine churches. The Indian Orthodox Church participated in the Ecumenical Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches held in Addis Ababa, in 1965. Metropolitan Dr. Paulos Gregorios was one of eight presidents of World Council of Churches.
Other organizations to which the church belongs are
|Angamaly Diocese||Chengannur Diocese||Idukki Diocese||Kandanad East Diocese|
|Kandanad West Diocese||Kollam Diocese||Kunnamkulam Diocese||Kottayam Diocese|
|Malabar Diocese||Mavelikara Diocese||Niranam Diocese||Sulthan Bathery Diocese|
|Thumpamon Diocese||Trichur Diocese||Trivandrum Diocese||Ahamedabad Diocese|
|Bangalore Diocese||Delhi Diocese||Kolkata Diocese||Madras Diocese|
|Mumbai Diocese||North East America||South West America||UK Europe & Africa|
|Autocephalous and Autonomous Churches of Oriental Orthodoxy|
|Alexandria | Antioch | Armenia | Eritrea | Ethiopia | India|
|Alexandria: British Orthodox Church | French Orthodox Church|