The Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, officially known as Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, is an integral branch of the Syriac Orthodox Church centered in Kerala, India. It recognizes the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch, currently Ignatius Aphrem II, as its supreme head. It functions as a largely autonomous unit 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 evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. Thomas the Apostle reached India in AD 52 and got followers from prominent families in Kerala. In AD 345 Knai Thoma along with 72 Syrian Families and Clergymen arrived Kerala and mark the beginning of Knanaya Syrian Ethnicity in Kerala. In AD 825 arrival of two bishops Mar Sabor and Mar Aproth enhanced the relationship between Saint Thomas Christians and the Church of the East. The local administration of the early Saint Thomas Christians in Kerala was done by archdeacons in the absence of a bishop. Archdeacons used to request for prelates from the Church of the East.
From the 16th century the Portuguese Jesuits attempted to forcefully bring the community into the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. In 1653, Mar Ahatallah came to Malankara. He was a Syrian Bishop who had converted to Catholicism. He was captured by the Portuguese enroute and was taken to Madras. Resentment of these measures lead a part of the community to join the Archdeacon, Thomas, in swearing never to submit to the Portuguese in the Coonan Cross Oath in 1653. The part of the church that resists the Latin power is known as the Malankara Syrian Church.
Following Mar Ahatallah, Mar Gregorios Abdal Jaleel Patriarch of Jerusalem arrived Malankara in 1665, on the invitation of the Archdeacon and thus was able to introduce the Syriac Orthodox Church liturgy of Antioch in Malankara. In AD 1876 the synod of Mulamthuruthy constituted the democratic procedures and practices of the Malankara church in the presence of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchs Ignatius Peter IV (reigned 1872—1894) and Joseph Mar Divanyasious V and representatives from all the local churches. The decisions taken by the Synod of Mulamthuruthy known as Mulanthuruthy Padiyola, is the most important historical document and the early constitution of the Malankara Syrian Church. In 1912, a synod led by the Patriarch Ignatius Abdul Masih II, who had been controversially deposed by the Ottoman government, consecrated Evanios as Catholicos of the East, under the name Mar Baselios Paulose I. The faction that supported Baselios Paulose became what is now the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC), while those who supported the new Patriarch Ignatius Abded Aloho II became the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church (JSC). In 1934 after the death of Mar Divanyasious VI Syriac Orthodox Patriarchs Ignatius Elias III consecrated Paulose Mar Athanasius as the Malankara Metropolitan. At the same time Mar Themothiose Augen I left that faction and joined the faction of Malankara Church which submitted to the authority of Baselios Geevarghese II as Catholicos of the East.
Church leaders made several attempts at reunification in the mid-20th century, leading to two Supreme Court decisions, but were unable to resolve the contention, and the two churches operate independently today. By the end of March 1966, Mar Themothiose Augen I declared Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) as independent church following constitution of 1934 and have the official Thronal Cathedral of the Catholicos of the East at Mar Elia Chapel, Kottayam. The headquarters of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church in India is situated near the St. Peter's and St. Paul's Jacobite Syrian church Puthencruz.
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, the United Kingdom, Western Europe, and the Persian Gulf nations. In 2003 it was estimated that the church has 1,200,000 members globally.
The Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church has been known by several names during its existence. Other variants include Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, and Jacobite Syrian Church.
Puthencruz is the headquarters of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church in India. The headquarters is situated near the St. Peter's and St. Paul's Jacobite Syrian church. Its headquarters is named after the illustrious Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas. The property was bought and built under the leadership of the Catholicos of India Mar Baselios Thomas I, after the church faced difficulties in continuing its functioning from its base at Muvattupuzha with the demise of Catholicos Mar Baselios Paulose II.
The Catholicossate chapel is named after Poulose Mar Athanasius of Aluva and under the chapel is situated the space for tombs for the use of future Catholicos of the church. An Arts and Science college named after Mar Athanasius of Aluva is also run in the premises of the Zakka centre. It is the place where Akhila Malankara Suvisesha Yogam, the official gospel convention of the community, that is generally conducted from 26 to 31 December of every year. The official publishing house of the church, JSC Publishers are also a part of the large complex.Its subsidiary institutions such as the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Sunday School Association (MJSSA) is also based in Puthencruz.
Thomas the Apostle is credited by tradition for founding the Indian Church in 52 AD. This "Nasrani" faith is claimed to have had many similarities to ancient Judaism, see also Jewish Christianity, and owing to the heritage of the Nasrani people, developed contacts with the Nestorian 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".Under the leadership of their elder Thomas, Nazranis around Cochin gathered at Mattancherry church on Friday, 24 January 1653 (M.E. 828 Makaram 3) and made an oath that is known as the Great Oath of Bent Cross. The following oath was read aloud and the people touching a stone-cross repeated it loudly. By the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that henceforth we would not adhere to the Franks, nor accept the faith of the Pope of Rome. This reference from the The Missionary Register of 1822 seems to be the earliest reliable document available. Those who were not able to touch the cross tied ropes on the cross, held the rope in their hands and made the oath. Because of the weight it is believed by the followers that the cross bent a little and so it is known as "Oath of the bent cross" (Coonen Kurisu Sathyam). 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 Syrian Patriarch of Antioch responded and sent the metropolitan bishop Gregorios Abdal Jaleel of Jerusalem to India in 1665. He regularized the canonical ordination of Marthoma I as a bishop and worked together with him to organize the Malankara church.
Catholicose of India is an ecclesiastical office in the Syriac Orthodox Church, the head of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church in Kerala, India. He is the Catholicos/Maphrian of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church an autonomous body within the Syriac Orthodox Church, and functions at an ecclesiastical rank second to the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. The jurisdiction of the Syriac Orthodox Catholicos is limited to India, and he presides provincial synod. The current Catholicos of India is Catholicos Baselios Thomas I, who was consecrated in 2002.
The position was created in the 20th century, amid a series of splits within the local Malankara Syrian Church that divided the community into rival Jacobite Syrian and Indian Orthodox factions. It was instituted to provide a regional head for Jacobite Syrian Church, the faction that remained closely aligned with the Patriarch of Antioch.
Catholicos Baselios Thomas I (Mal: ആബൂന് മോര് ബസേലിയോസ് തോമസ് പ്രഥമന് കാതോലിക്ക ബാവ, b: July 22, 1929) is the second Maphrian i.e. Catholicos of the Syriac Orthodox Church in India and Metropolitan Trustee of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church.
His official title is Catholicos of India. On 26 July 2002 he was enthroned as the second Catholicos and the head of the Malankara Jacobite church in India by the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, in a ceremony held in Damascus, Syria. The position had remained vacant between 1996 (date of death of Catholicos Baselios Paulose II) and 2002.Ignatius Elias III - Patriarch Of Antioch (Entombed in Manjanikkara Dayara at omallur)
Mor Baselios Yeldo - Catholicos of Persia (Entombed in Kothamangalam cheria pally)
Parumala Thirumeni - (Geevarghese Mor Gregorious, Entombed in Parumala Church)
Paulose Mar Athanasius - Methropolitian of Jacobite Syrian Church (entombed in Aluva Thrikkunnathu Seminary)
Mor Koorilos Paulose - Malankara Metropolitan (Entombed in Panampady Church)
St.Kooorilos Yuyakkim - Reesh-Episcopa of Malankara (Entombed in Mulanthuruthy Marthoman Church)
St.Osthatheos Sleeba - Apostolic delegate of the Holy See to India (Entombed in Arthat St.Mary's Simhasana church, Kunnamkulam)
Baselios Sakralla III of Aleppo - Maphryono (entombed at Morth Mariam Cathedral, Kandanad)
Gregorios Abdal Jaleel - Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Jerusalem (entombed at St. Thomas Church North Paravur)
The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church has the following dioceses
There are Archdioceses under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch:
- Knanaya Archdiocese
- Region of Chingavanam
- Region of Kallisseri
- Region of Ranni
- Region of USA, Canada and Europe
- Malankara Archdiocese of North America
- Malankara Archdiocese of Europe
- Patriarchal Vicarate of Ireland
- Patriarchal Vicarate of UK
- Patriarchal vicarate of Germany & Central Europe
- Kollam Diocese
- Thumpamon Diocese
- Niranam Diocese
- Kottayam Diocese
- Idukki Diocese
- Kandanad Diocese
- Kochi Diocese
- Angamaly(Largest Diocese)
- Angamaly Region
- Perumbavoor Region
- Kothamangalam Region
- Highrange Region
- Muvattupuzha Region
- Pallikkara Region
- Thrissur Diocese
- Kozhikode Diocese
- Malabar Diocese
- Mangalore DIocese
- Bangalore DIocese
- Mylapore DIocese (formerly Chennai Diocese)
- Bombay Diocese
- New Delhi Diocese
- Middle East Diocese - -Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
- Australia & New Zealand
- Singapore & Malaysia
There are dioceses under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch.
- Honavar Mission
- E.A.E (Evangelistic Association Of The East) Churches
- Simhasana Churches
The Synod of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church comprises:
- Catholicos Baselios Thomas I
- Kuriakose Mor Severios Edavazhikal (Knanaya)
- Abraham Mor Severious
- Thomas Mor Timotheos
- Joseph Mor Gregorios
- Mathews Mor Ivanios
- Geevarghese Mor Dionysius
- Kuriakose Mor Dioscorus
- Geevarghese Mor Athanasios (Simhasana Churches)
- Kuriakose Mor Theophilos
- Yuhanon Mor Militos
- Mathews Mor Theodosius
- Mathews Mor Aphrem
- Pathros Mor Osthathios
- Geevarghese Mor Coorilose
- Yeldho Mor Theethose
- Kuriakose Mor Eusabios
- Markose Mor Chrisostamos
- Elias Mor Athanasios
- Kuriakose Mor Gregorios (Knanaya)
- Yaqu'b Mor Anthonios
- Zacharias Mor Philoxenos
- Paulose Mor Irenious
- Kuriakose Mor Ivanious (Knanaya)
- Ayub Mor Silvanious (Knanaya)
- Geevarghese Mor Barnabas
- Issac Mor Osthathios
- Kuriakose Mor Julios
- Thomas Mor Alexandros
- Zacharias Mor Polycarpus
- Mathews Mor Thimothios
- Mathews Mor Anthimos