Christianity in Kerala

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Christianity is the third-most practiced religion in Kerala, accounting for 20% of the population according to the Indian census.[1] Although a minority, Christians represent a much larger percentage of the population of Kerala than of India as a country. It's a significant minority within Christianity in India,.[2][3] Christianity is believed to have reached the shores of Kerala in 52 A.D. with the arrival of St Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ.[4][5] Saint Thomas Christians (also known as Syrian Christians or Nasrani) include the Syro-Malabar Catholic and Syro-Malankara Catholic, Malankara Orthodox, Jacobite, Marthoma and Syrian Anglicans of the Church of South India. Roman Catholic Latin Rite Christians owe their origin to the missionary activities involving western missionaries in India especially Kerala. Most of the people who were converted by the western missionaries belonged to the most poor and deprived sections of the Hindu Society. It is no surprise that the bulk of new converts belonged to the coastal community of Kerala. Also, it was Western Latin missionaries who brought some warring Eastern Churches of Kerala into their fold, making them adopt Latin Liturgical practices, which later became known as the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches respectively. This is further exemplified by the fact that members of Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches can be found only among people of Kerala origin. The bulk of Catholics in India belong to the Latin Rite.


The origins of Christianity in Kerala go back to the earliest period of the Church itself. In fact, there is a tradition among the Christian people of Kerala that St. Thomas the Apostle, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, landed on the Kerala coast in 52 A.D. and preached the Gospel. He organized Christian communities in several places, established seven churches in Kerala, and died a martyre in Mylapore, Chennai, in 72 A.D. However, modern historians disagree with this story. The exact year of his arrival is disputed due to lack of credible historical evidence.[6][7][8] In 345 A.D., a Palestinian business man, Thomas Cana, along with 72 families, came and settled in Kerala, thereby augmenting the Christian community.[9] A second period of intense Latin Christian missionary activity began with the arrival of European missionaries due to the discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco da Gama in 1498.


East Syrian Rite[edit]

West Syrian Rite[edit]

Roman Rite[edit]

Anglican Rite[edit]

Protestant Denominations[edit]

Christian pilgrimage sites[edit]


  1. ^ "Census of India". Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  2. ^ "Christianity in India". Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  3. ^ Compiled by Robert Eric Frykenberg (2005-07-01). "Timeline". Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  4. ^ T. K. Joseph (1955). Six St. Thomases Of South India. University of California. p. 27. 
  5. ^ Menachery G; 1973, 1998; Mundalan, A. M; 1984; Podipara, Placid J. 1970; Leslie Brown, 1956
  6. ^ Medlycott, A E. 1905 "India and the Apostle Thomas"; Gorgias Press LLC; ISBN, Fully reprinted in The Nazranies, Ed. George Menachery, Ollur,1998
  7. ^ Thomas Puthiakunnel, (1973) "Jewish colonies of India paved the way for St. Thomas", The Saint Thomas Christian Encyclopedia of India, ed. George Menachery, Vol. II.
  8. ^ "Kerala Syrian Christians, Apostle in India". Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  9. ^ `Christianity in India : A True Face`, Ch:11,`Christianity in Kerala`by Dr. John Vallamattam, Ed.&Pub.:CBCI Commission, New Delhi,1981, page104
  10. ^ World Christian Encyclopedia , Second edition, 2001 Volume 1, p. 368-371
  11. ^ "Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar". Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  12. ^ "Malankara Orthodox Church - Kottayam Seminary". Retrieved 2013-12-16. 

Further reading[edit]

  • George K.M.,`Christianity in India Through the Centuries`,Authentic Books, Secunderabad,2007,2009.(ISBN 978-81-7362-786-6).
  • Benedict Vadakkekara,`Origin of Christianity in India`,Media House, Delhi,2007.ISBN 81-7495-258-6.
  • Agur C.M.,`Church History of Travancore`,Madras,1903 Reprint:Asian Educational Services, New Delhi,1990. (ISBN 81-206-0594-2).
  • Visvanathan Susan,`The Christians of Kerala`,Oxford University Press, Delhi1993,1999.(ISBN 0195647998)
  • George Menachery,`The St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India`,SARAS,Ed.Prof. George Menachery, Ollur,Vol.I 1982, Vol.II 1973, Vol. III 2009.
  • George Menachery,`Indian Church History Classics`,SARAS,Ed.Prof. George Menachery, Ollur,Vol.I The Nazranies 1998.