Jacobite Syrian Christian Church

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Holy Jacobite Syrian Christian Church
Syriac orthodox COA.svg
Syrian Church Emblem
Founder Thomas the Apostle[1]
Independence Apostolic Era
Recognition Oriental Orthodox
Primate Catholicos Baselios Thomas I (under the authority of Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Ignatius Aphrem II)
Headquarters Kochi, India
Territory Universal
Possessions India, Middle East, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, North America
Language Malayalam, English, Hindi, Syriac
Members 2.5 - 2.8 million
Website jscnews.org

The Jacobite Syrian Christian Church or Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church commonly and erroneously referred to as the Jacobites or the Patrigeese Church, is an integral part of the Syriac Orthodox Church, located in Kerala, India. The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, currently Ignatius Aphrem II, is its supreme head. It functions as a largely autonomous Indian church within the universal church with a provincial episcopal synod, under the authority of the Catholicos of India, ordained by and accountable to the Patriarch of Antioch, 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.[1][2][3][4][5]

Historically, the Saint Thomas Christians were united in leadership and liturgy, and were part of the Church of the East centred in Persia.[6][7] From the 16th century the Portuguese Jesuits attempted to forcefully bring the community fully into the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. Resentment of these measures led 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 followed Thomas is known as the Malankara Church.

Following the arrival of the Bishop Gregorios Abdul Jaleel of Jerusalem, Archdeacon Thomas forged a relationship with the Syriac Orthodox Church and gradually adopted West Syrian liturgy and practices. Over time, however, relations soured between the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchs and the local hierarchy, particularly after Patriarch Ignatius Peter IV (reigned 1872—1894) demanded registered deeds for the transfer of properties. In 1912, a synod led by the Patriarch Ignatius Abdul Masih II, who had been controversially deposed by the Ottoman government,[8][9] consecrated Evanios as Catholicos of the East, under the name Baselios Paulose I. The faction that supported Baselios Paulose became what is now the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, while those who supported the new Patriarch, Ignatius Abded Aloho II, who opposed that consecration, became the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. The two groups were briefly reunited between 1958 and 1975, but attempts by church leaders and two Supreme Court decisions were unable to resolve the contention, and the two churches operate independently today.

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 2,000,000 members globally.[10] The members of the Church are known as Nazaranis.

Part of a series on
Saint Thomas Christians
മാർത്തോമാ നസ്രാണികൾ
St. Thomas Cross
Alternate names
Nasrani · Mar Thoma Nasrani · Syrian Christians
Saint Thomas · Thomas of Cana · Mar Sabor and Mar Proth · Tharisapalli plates · Synod of Diamper · Coonan Cross Oath
Monuments · Churches · Shrines · Liturgical language · Church music
Prominent persons
Abraham Malpan · Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar · Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban · Kuriakose Elias Chavara · Mar Thoma I · Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly · Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi · Kariattil Mar Ousep · Geevarghese Mar Dionysius of Vattasseril · Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala · Geevarghese Mar Ivanios · Saint Alphonsa · Yeldho Mar Baselios · Euphrasia Eluvathingal · Thoma of Villarvattom

Margam Kali · Parichamuttukali · Cuisine · Suriyani Malayalam


The Church is sometimes referred to 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 other group known as Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Indian Orthodox Church) or Methran Faction.

Syriac liturgical calendar 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.


Thomas the Apostle is credited by tradition for founding the Indian Church in 52 AD.[1][11][12][13] This "Nasrani" faith 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, January 24, 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.[14] 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 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.

Relationship of the Nasrani (Saint Thomas Christians) groups

Lineage of Catholicose of India[edit]

  • 1. Baselios Augen I (before 1975) – (Catholicos of United Malankara Church. After schism, Baselios Augen I continued as Catholicos of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in 1975)
Also known as Catholicos of India


The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church has the following dioceses

Archdioceses (Autonomous)[edit]

There are Archdioceses under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch:

  1. Knanaya Archdiocese
    1. Region of Chingavanam
    2. Region of Kallisseri
    3. Region of Ranni
    4. Region of USA, Canada and Europe
  2. Malankara Archdiocese of North America
  3. Malankara Archdiocese of Europe
    1. Patriarchal Vicarate of Ireland
    2. Patriarchal Vicarate of UK
    3. Patriarchal vicarate of Germany & Central Europe

Dioceses in Kerala[edit]

  1. Trivandrum
  2. Kollam Diocese[15]
  3. Thumpamon Diocese[16]
  4. Niranam Diocese[17]
  5. Kottayam Diocese[18]
  6. Idukki Diocese[19]
  7. Kandanad Diocese[20]
  8. Kochi Diocese[21]
  9. Angamaly(Largest Diocese)
    1. Angamaly Region
    2. Perumbavoor Region
    3. Kothamangalam Region
    4. Highrange Region
    5. Muvattupuzha Region
    6. Pallikkara Region
  10. Thrissur Diocese[22]
  11. Kozhikode Diocese[23]
  12. Malabar Diocese[24]

Dioceses in Rest of India[edit]

  1. Mangalore DIocese
  2. Bangalore DIocese
  3. Mylapore DIocese[25] (formerly Chennai Diocese)
  4. Bombay Diocese
  5. New Delhi Diocese[26]

Dioceses in Outside India (Autonomous)[edit]

  1. Middle East Diocese - -Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
  2. Australia & New Zealand
  3. Singapore & Malaysia

Other Dioceses (Autonomous)[edit]

There are dioceses under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch.

  1. Honavar Mission[27]
  2. EAE (Evangelical Association of the East) Churches[28]
  3. Simhasana Churches

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).

Present Synod[edit]

The Synod of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church comprises:

  1. Catholicos Baselios Thomas I
  2. Kuriakose Mor Severios Edavazhikal (Knanaya)
  3. Yuhanon Mor Philaxinos (retired)
  4. Abraham Mor Severious
  5. Thomas Mor Timotheos
  6. Joseph Mor Gregorios
  7. Geevarghese Mor Dionasios
  8. Mathews Mor Ivanios
  9. Geevarghese Mor Athanasios (Simhasana Churches)
  10. Kuriakose Mor Dioscorus
  11. Yuhanon Mor Militos
  12. Geevarghese Mor Coorilose
  13. Kuriakose Mor Theophilos
  14. Yeldho Mor Theethose
  15. Mathews Mor Thevodosios
  16. Mathews Mor Aphrem
  17. Pathros Mor Osthathios
  18. Kuriakose Mor Eusabios
  19. Markose Mor Chrisostamos
  20. Elias Mor Athanasios
  21. Kuriakose Mor Gregorios (Knanaya)
  22. Yaqu'b Mor Anthonios
  23. Zacharias Mor Philoxenos
  24. Paulose Mor Irenious
  25. Kuriakose Mor Ivanious (Knanaya)
  26. Ayub Mor Silvanious (Knanaya)
  27. Geevarghese Mor Barnabas
  28. Isaac Mor Ostatious
  29. Kuriakose Mor Julios
  30. Thomas Mor Alexandros
  31. Geevarghese Mor Polycarpus
  32. Mathews Mor Thimothios
  33. Matthews Mor Anthimos

See also[edit]



Complete video of the Holy Mass [Holy Qurbano] of the Jacobite Syrian Church:

  1. ^ a b c The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 5 by Erwin Fahlbusch. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing - 2008. p. 285. ISBN 978-0-8028-2417-2.
  2. ^ Menachery G (1973) The St. Thomas Christian Encyclopedia of India, Ed. George Menachery, B.N.K. Press, vol. 2, ISBN 81-87132-06-X, Lib. Cong. Cat. Card. No. 73-905568; B.N.K. Press – (has some 70 lengthy articles by different experts on the origins, development, history, culture... of these Christians, with some 300 odd photographs).
  3. ^ Leslie Brown, (1956) The Indian Christians of St. Thomas. An Account of the Ancient Syrian Church of Malabar, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1956, 1982 (repr.)
  4. ^ 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., Trichur.
  5. ^ NSC Network (2007) St. Thomas, India mission- Early reference and testimonies
  6. ^ Frykenberg, p. 93.
  7. ^ Wilmshurst, EOCE, 343
  8. ^ Vadakkekara, p. 95.
  9. ^ Tamcke, p. 214.
  10. ^ 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. p. 285. ISBN 0-8028-2417-X. 
  11. ^ Medlycott, A E. 1905 "India and the Apostle Thomas"; Gorgias Press LLC; ISBN 1-59333-180-0.
  12. ^ N.M.Mathew. St. Thomas Christians of Malabar Through Ages. CSS Tiruvalla. (2003). ISBN 81-7821-008-8.
  13. ^ Origin of Christianity in India - A Historiographical Critique by Dr. Benedict Vadakkekara. (2007). ISBN 81-7495-258-6.
  14. ^ The Missionary Register for M DCCC XXII. October 1822, Letter from Punnathara Mar Dionysious (Mar Thoma XI)to the Head of the Church Missionary Society. [1] For a translation of it out of Syriac, by Professor Lee, see page 431- 432. Only the English text is published.
  15. ^ "Kollam Diocese of Jacobite Syrian Church". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "Home". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "Niranam Diocese of Jacobite Syrian Christian Church". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  18. ^ "Kottayam Diocese". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  19. ^ "Official website of Idukki Diocese ::". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  20. ^ "Kandanad Diocese - Jacobite Syrian Christian Church". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  21. ^ Kochi Diocese
  22. ^ "Home". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  23. ^ "Kozhikode Diocese". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  24. ^ "Official Website of Malabar Diocese, Jacobite Syrian Christian Church". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  25. ^ "Mylapore Diocese". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  26. ^ "Delhi Diocese of Jacobite Syrian Church". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  27. ^ "Honnavar Mission". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  28. ^ *Evangelical Association of the East

External links[edit]