http://SyrianChurch.org
 

 

Introduction

The Christian Community of Kerala (in Southern INDIA) traces back its origin to the advent of St. Thomas, the Apostle to India, who reached the Cragnanore Port in AD 52 and its subsequent spiritual stabilization and growth.

It is believed that the Apostle started his gospel mission in India, from a small town called  "Malayankara"  on the sea coast of 'Paravur' Taluk in Kerala, at a short distance away from Cranganore Port.  It is thus that, when about 400 Christian Settlers from Syria came over in AD 345 under the leadership of Thomas Kana, they, for want of anything better, started referring to all their surroundings as "Malankara" (Phonetically similar to 'Malayankara').  In course of time, as the settlers spread out, all of the Malayalam speaking area together become 'Malankara' (Rhymes well with the local language, Malayalam too).  This has been recorded in the writings of Mor Youseph, an emissary of the Holy See of Antioch, sent over to administer the needs of the Syrian Christian settlers.  

With the coming of these Christian missionaries from Syria in AD.345, the entire Malankara Christian community adopted the rites and liturgies of the Syriac Church of Antioch and became a part of that ancient Patriarchal See; thus the early Christian converts (St.Thomas Christians) as well as the new Christian settlers (Knanaya Christians) came to be known as 'Syriac Christians'.

From such small beginnings, the Christian Community of Kerala grew up to its present stature against heavy odds aided, among other providential factors, by the continued tolerance and hospitality of many a neighborhood, the good will of the local rulers and chieftains and others.  In due course, for various reasons, the Church in Kerala founded by St. Thomas, split into different denominations.  Except for the origin of Christianity, all the Churches now have a different perspective on the history and faith of the Malankara Church. 

In this website, the history of the JACOBITE SYRIAN CHRISTIAN CHURCH of Malankara, an off-soot of the most ancient Church in Christendom, the SYRIAC ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ANTIOCH & ALL THE EAST, is reproduced here (click the link); the brief section is compiled from the Church histories written by various authors.  A detailed history on the evolution of Malankara Church and its faith with ample proof and evidences, that to be published soon, is currently under construction.

Christian population in Kerala

As per the latest census (2001), a quarter of the Christians in India are from its southern most state of Kerala alone. Of the total 32 million people in the province of Kerala, the Christians constitutes around 20 %  ie; 6.5 million.  A few more thousands of Kerala Christians are residing outside the state.  The 'Syrian Christians' numbering about 5 million, spread across various denominations is the largest ethnic group among the Malankara (Kerala) Christians. A recent survey of the Christian population in Kerala is given below.

 

APPROXIMATE population of various CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS in Kerala

1. Syrian Orthodox (Jacobite) Churches 21,00,000
2. Roman Catholic Churches 30,00,000
3. Other Episcopal & Protestant Churches 13,60,000

 


 

I.  SYRIAN ORTHODOX (JACOBITE) CHURCHES

{A} Jacobite / Knanaya / Syrian Orthodox -    {B} Malankara Orthodox /  Indian Orthodox
Total Membership- 21.00 lakhs *
{A}. Jacobite Syrian Christian Church    (part of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church)
1.
 
  JACOBITE SYRIAN CHRISTIAN CHURCH 

  {Headed by the 'CATHOLICOS OF INDIA' - functions under the spiritual supremacy of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch & all the East 

   --->   Regional Church H.Q. at Puthencuriz, Kochi}

950,000

 

 

 2.

 

  SYRIAN ORTHODOX CONGREGATIONS (under the direct jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch)
  {Comprises of the Simhasana Churches;  Evangelical Association of the East & St.Antony's (Honvar) Mission, Mangalore}
  50,000
 
 

 

 3.

 

  KNANAYA JACOBITE SYRIAN COMMUNITY of INDIA

   (Headed by an ARCHBISHOP -  functions under spiritual supremacy of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch & all the East

    --->   Church H.Q. at   Chingavanam, Kottayam)

 100,000  
  Total  

1,100,000

 

{B}. Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church   (also refferred as 'Indian Orthodox' or 'Malankara Orthodox')
 
  MALANKARA ORTHODOX SYRIAN CHURCH (Independent Orthodox Church since 1912)

   (administered under an independent 'CATHOLICOS OF EAST'   --->   Church H.Q.at Kottayam)

1,000,000  
 

Total

 

1,000,000

 


 

II.  ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCHES 

{A} Roman - Syrian -  Knanaya -    {B} Latin  churches
Total Membership- 30.00 lakhs *
{A}. Roman Catholic Churches with Syriac tradition
1.   SYRO-MALABAR  CHURCH (East Syriac tradition) Church H.Q.at Kochi 1,650,000  
2.   SYRO-MALANKARA CHURCH (West Syriac tradition) Church H.Q.at Thiruvanathapuram    200,000  
3.   KNANAYA SYRIAN CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS Church H.Q.at Kottayam    150,000  
  Total  

2,000,000

 

{B}. Latin Catholic Church
 
  LATIN CATHOLIC CHURCH  (in Kerala)
1,000,000  
 

Total

 

1,000,000

 


 

III.  OTHER EPISCOPAL & PROTESTANT CHRISTIAN CHURCHES

{A} Thoziyoor - Assyrian  -    {B} MarThoma Syrian - Evangelical  -    {C} C.S.I. -  Protestant  Churches
Total Membership- 13.60 lakhs *
{A}. Episcopal Churches with Syriac traditions

1.

 
  MALABAR INDEPENDENT SYRIAN CHURCH  (Thoziyoor Church)
   (West Syriac traditions,   Church H.Q. at Anjoor, Kunnamkulam)
  15,000  

2.

 
  ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF EAST
  (Chaldeans - East Syriac traditions,   Local H.Q. at Trichur)
  35,000  
  Total  

50,000

{B}. Protestant Churches with Syriac traditions
1.
 
  MARTHOMA SYRIAN CHURCH
  (Semi-Protestant Episcopal Church - West Syriac traditions,   Church HQ. at Thiruvalla)
600,000  

2.

 
  ST. THOMAS EVANGELICAL CHURCH
  (Evolved from the MarThoma Syrian Church)
  10,000  
  Total  

610,000

{C}. Anglican & Other Protestant Christian Churches
 
  CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA & other Protestant Christian congregations (in Kerala)
800,000  
  Total  

700,000

* figures given above are only approximate

 


 

1

 

 

 

Church History of the

SYRIAC ORTHODOX (JACOBITE) CHRISTIANS OF MALANKARA (INDIA)

 

 

     Other Links:

(a)   Monasteries & churches of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch & all the East:- 

         i. Malankara  churches

          ii.  Suryoyo  churches

(b)   Biographies of the Church Fathers

 

 

 

 


 

MSCR  -  Malankara Syriac Christian Resources

http://SyriacChristianity.org

Contact Email:   johnphilipsk@gmail.com / mscrp@live.com