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The Jacobite Syrian Christian Church is part of the Syriac Orthodox Church, located in Kerala, India. It recognizes the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, currently Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, as its supreme head. It functions as a largely autonomous archdiocese within the church, under the authority of the Catholicos of India, currently Baselios Thomas I. Its members are part of the Saint Thomas Christian community, which traces its origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.

The Jacobite Syrian Christian Church developed out of a series of splits within India's Malankara Church in the 19th and 20th centuries. Traditionally the Malankara Church had been headed by the Malankara Metropolitan, a metropolitan bishop under the Patriarch of Antioch, but disputes over the extent of his autonomy in the church led to a rift. This culminated in 1912 when a synod led by the deposed Patriarch Ignatius Abdul Masih II ordained the current Metropolitan, Evanios, as Catholicos of the East, under the name Baselios Paulose I. The faction supporting the Catholicos became known as the Indian Orthodox Church, while those who supported the Patriarch became the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church.

As part of the Syriac Orthodox communion the church uses the West Syrian liturgy and is part of the Oriental Orthodox group of churches. It has dioceses in most parts of India as well as in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Western Europe, and the Persian Gulf nations. In 2003 it was estimated that the church has 1,200,000 members globally.[1]



Although the church is officially named Jacobite Syrian Christian Church[2] it is commonly called the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. Other names in common use are Syrian Orthodox Church in India,Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church, Malankara Jacobite Church, Syriac Orthodox Church in India, and Malankara Jacobite Church. The Church is sometimes referred as the "Patriarchal faction" or "Bava faction", because of the disputes with the Methran Faction.

In 2000, a Holy Synod ruled that the name of the church in English should be the "'Syriac Orthodox Church". It had been, and often still is today, called the "Syrian Orthodox Church". The church in India uses the term "Jacobite" or 'Bava Faction' as a way to distinguish themselves from the excommunicated group known as Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Indian Orthodox Church) or Methran Faction.

In Kerala, the church members follow a complicated social modality intermingling traditions of Syrian, Catholic and Hindu traditions. Many of the customs and traditions of this group are borrowed from traditional practices of upper caste Hindus including specific rituals involving marriage, death and caste-related observations in relation to other Christians and lower-caste Hindus.

Jewish-Syriac liturgical time is used to mark the observations of fasting and prayer and the preparation for the Eucharist. However, the Malayalam Calendar is used to make the more recent religious events such establishment dates of churches, houses and gravestones. This practice is increasingly superseded by the standard Western Gregorian calendar. The Malayalam numbering of calendar years is 825 years less than the standard.


Relationship of the Nasrani (Saint Thomas Christians) groups

Thomas the Apostle is credited by tradition for founding the Indian Church in 52 A.D.[3] 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.

Dioceses of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church

  • Malabar Diocese (Syriac Orthodox Church)
  • Kozhikode
  • Thrissur
  • Angamali
  • Kochi[3]
  • Kandanad
  • Kottayam[4]
  • Idukki
  • Niranam[5]
  • Thumpamon
  • Kollam
  • Bangalore
  • Bombay
  • Delhi
  • Mylapore (Chennai Diocese was renamed as Mylapore diocese in January 2010)
  • Middle East
  • Australia & New Zealand
  • Malankara Archdiocese of Europe
    • Patriarchal Vicarate of Ireland
    • Patriarchal vicarate of Germany & Central Europe
  • Malankara Archdiocese of North America (directly under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch)
  • Knanaya Archdiocese
  • Simhasana Churches
  • EAE Churches
  • Honavar Mission

Autonomous dioceses

The North American, Europe Archdiocese, Knanaya Archdiocese, Simhasana, Evangelical Association are under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch. Of these, the last two had been formed as autonomous bodies in the early 20th century, to escape from the onslaught of civil court cases arisen from disputes with the rival Orthodox Church of India(Malankara Orthodox Church).

Knanaya Archdiocese

The Knanaya diocese (today an archdiocese) was formed in 1910. Its jurisdiction extends to all Knanaya Jacobite people throughout the world. The diocese was formed in recognition of the endogamous character of the Knanaya people. It was also intended to recognize the leadership and sacrifice of the Knanaya people in establishing and maintaining since 345 A.D. the (Antiochan) orthodox faith in Malankara. The Knanaya Archbishop is a member of the Synod of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, but is part of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church.

Major Institutions

  • Malankara Jacobite Syrian Youth Association
  • Malankara Jacobite Syrian Vanitha Samajam
  • Malankara Jacobite Syrian Sunday School Association
  • Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary
  • Mor Gregorious Jacobite Students Movement

Bishops of the Church

The church has 31 Indian bishops & Catholicos:

Prelates Diocese and Roles
Dr. Aboon Baselios Thomas I
Catholicos of India & the Metropolitan Trustee of the Church in India
and the Metropolitan of Angamali, New Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore Dioceses
Dr. Abraham Mor Severious
Angamali Region of Angamali Diocese and Abbot of Mor Gabriel Dayro
Dr. Yuhanon Mor Philaxinos
Dr. Thomas Mor Timotheos
Kottayam Diocese, Singapore & Malaysia
Dr. Joseph Mor Gregorios
Kochi & Kothamangalam Region of Angali Diocese*
Kuriakose Mor Severios Edavazhikal
Arch Bishop - Knanaya Archdiocese
Kuriakose Mor Gregorios
Kallisseri & Malabar Regions of Knanaya Archdiocese
Kuriakose Mor Ivanios
Ranni & Outer Kerala Regions of Knanaya Archdiocese
Ayoub Mor Silvanos
Archbishop of Knanaya Archdiocese, USA & Europe Region
Yeldho Mor Theethose
Malankara Archdiocese of North America
Dr. Geevarghese Mor Coorilose
Niranam & UK Dioceses
Dr. Mathews Mor Ivanios
Kandanad Diocese & President of the Youth Association
Mathews Mor Aphrem
Highrange, Sharjah, Al Ain and Perumbavoor REgion of Angamali Diocese
Kuriakose Mor Julios
Simhasana Churches
Geevarghese Mor Dionasios
Auxiliary Bishop of Simhasana Churches

Abbot of Mor Ignatios Dayaro, Manjanikkara
Yuhanon Mor Militos
Thumbamon Diocese, Dubai, Abu Dhabi / President of MJSSA
Mathews Mor Thevodosios
Kollam Diocese, Kuwait
Dr. Kuriakose Mor Theophilos
MSOT Seminary & Europe Diocese
Kuriakose Mor Eusabios
Thrissur, Oman and Mumbai Dioceses (Assistant)
Pathros Mor Osthathios
New Delhi Diocese (Assistant)
Dr. Kuriakose Mor Clemis
Idukki Diocese
Paulose Mor Irenios
Kozhikode Diocese
Geevarghese Mor Polycarpus
Evangelical Association of the East / Honavar Mission
Markose Mor Chrisostamos
Evangelical Association of the East (Assistant)
Yaqu'b Mor Anthonios
Honavar Mission (Assistant)
Geevarghese Mor Athanasios
Bahrain & Qatar Gulf Region, Kunnamkulam Environs / Manjannikkara Dayra(Assistant)
Kuriakose Mor Diaskoros
Abbot of Malekuriz Dayro, Ireland and Bangalore Diocese (assistant)
Elias Mor Athanasios
Assistant to the Catholicos and Metropolitan of Antiochean Movement
Zacharias Mor Philoxenos
Malabar Diocese
Issac Mor Osthatheos
Mylapore Diocese (Earlier known as Chennai Diocese)
Geevarghese Mor Barnabas
Dayara & Spritual Organizations

See also


  1. ^ Fahlbusch, Erwin; Lochman, Jan Milic; Mbiti, John S.; Vischer, Lukas; Bromiley, Geoffrey William (2003). The Encyclopedia Of Christianity (Encyclopedia of Christianity) Volume 5. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 285. ISBN 0-8028-2417-X. 
  2. ^ Content of The Patriarchal Boola No E 149/02 dated July 5, 2002, issued by the Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatious Zakka I Jacobite Syrian Christian Church
  3. ^ Kochi Diocese
  4. ^ Kottayam Diocese
  5. ^ Niranam Diocese

External links

General Links

Dioceses and Churches

Online Magazines


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