Christianity in Kerala
Christianity is the third-most practised religion in Kerala, accounting for 18% of the population according to the Indian census. Although a minority, the Christian population of Kerala is proportionally much larger than that of India as a whole. A significant portion of the Indian Christian population resides in the state.
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The families near St.Mary's Church, Niranam, Sankaramangalam, Pakalomattam, Kalli, and Kaliyankal were considered particularly preeminent, and historically the most aristocratic Syriac Christian families tended to claim descent from these families. Some Saint Thomas Christian families like Ainatu family claim their roots to Tamil Brahmins or Iyers who were converted by Thomas the Apostle in Mylpore.
It is also possible for Aramaic-speaking Jews from Galilee to make a trip to Kerala in the 1st century. The Cochin Jews are known to have existed in Kerala around that time. The earliest known source connecting the apostle to India is the Acts of Thomas, likely written in the early 3rd century, perhaps in Edessa.
The text describes Thomas' adventures in bringing Christianity to India, a tradition later expanded upon in early Indian sources such as the "Thomma Parvam" ("Song of Thomas"). Generally he is described as arriving in or around Maliankara and founding Seven Churches and half churches, or Ezharapallikal: Kodungallur, Kollam, Niranam, Nilackal (Chayal), Kokkamangalam, Kottakkavu, Palayoor , Thiruvithamcode Arappalli and Aruvithura church (half church). A number of 3rd- and 4th-century Roman writers also mention Thomas' trip to India, including Ambrose of Milan, Gregory of Nazianzus, Jerome, and Ephrem the Syrian, while Eusebius of Caesarea records that his teacher Pantaenus visited a Christian community in India in the 2nd century. There came into existence a Christian community who were mainly merchants.
The medieval historian Pius Malekandathil believes that the St Thomas Christians, integrated with Persian Christian migrant merchants in the 9th century, had become a powerful trading community by this time and were granted the privileges by the Brahmins and the Hindu rulers to promote revenue generation and to undermine Buddhist and Jain traders who rivaled the Hindus for religious and political hegemony in Kerala at the time.
Catholics form three sub groups totalling overall 3,743,851 (61% of all Christians) breakdown as follows Syro Malabar (2,345,911) Syro Malankara (465,207) Latin Catholic (932,733)
Major Churches of the most ancient Eastern Orthodox Rite form 1,381,209 (23% of all Christians) (also reformed Oriental church like Malankara Marthoma) numbers are as follows Malankara Jacobite (482,762) Malankara Orthodox (493,358) Malankara Marthoma (405,089)
- Protestant and others Born Again Churches like Penthacostal/Brotheren numbers are as follows
CSI (Church of South India) (274,255) St. Thomas Evangelical Church ~(2900) Penthacost & Brotheren (213,806) Other miscellaneous (301,864) Dalit (159,982)
Oriental Orthodox Churches (West Syriac Rite)
- Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church - autonomous jurisdiction of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch in India.
- Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church - autocephalous Indian Orthodox Church, part of the Oriental Orthodox communion.
- Malabar Independent Syrian Church - Oriental Orthodox church in good ecumenical relations with the Anglican Communion, but not in communion with other Oriental orthodox churches.
Assyrian Church of the East - (East Syriac Rite)
- Syro-Malabar Catholic Church - an Eastern Catholic church of the East Syriac Rite
- Syro-Malankara Catholic Church - an Eastern Catholic church of the West Syriac Rite
- Roman Catholic Church also known as Latin Church (Latin Catholic) (Roman Rite)
Reformed Oriental Churches
- Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church - Reformed West Syriac Rite Church. In communion with the Anglican Communion and Malabar Independent Syrian Church.
- St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India - Evangelical Oriental Church.
United and Uniting (Anglican)
- Church of South India (CSI) - the successor to the Anglican and several Protestant denominations in India, including the Church of England, the Methodist Church and the Church of Scotland, after Indian Independence. This Church is part of the Anglican Communion.
Other Protestant denominations
- General Council of the Assemblies of God of India
- Church of God (Full Gospel) in India
- The Indian Pentecostal Church of God
- The Pentecostal Mission
- The Salvation Army in India
- Seventh-day Adventist Church in India
- Kerala Brethren Church
- The National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom Roman Catholic Church, Vallarpadam, Ernakulam.
- St. Antony's Roman Catholic Church Kaloor, Ernakulam.
- St. Francis Assisi Cathedral Roman Catholic Church, Archdiocese of Verapoly, Marine Drive, Ernakulam, Kochi
- St.Philomena's Forane Church, Koonammavu & St. Chavara Pilgrimage, Archdiocese of Verapoly, a Roman Catholic Church, Koonammavu, Cochin.
- St. Mary's Church, Niranam, Pathanamthitta- one of the oldest churches in India and founded by St. Thomas.
- St. Mary's Cathedral, Kundara, Kollam- contains a Holy Girdle believed to be dropped from the sky by the Virgin Mary to St. Thomas.
- St. George Orthodox Church, Puthuppally, Kottayam- commonly called the 'Puthuppally Valiyappally' and contains a shrine declared as the 'Georgian Pilgrim Centre of the East'. Relics of Saint George are also present at Puthuppally Pally.
St Mary's Orthodox Church, Kallooppara, Pathanamthitta(Kallooppara Valyapally).
- Our Lady of Dolours Basilica, Thrissur, Thrissur- commonly known as 'Puthanpally' ('new church') and the third-tallest church in Asia.
- St. Antony's Forane Church, Ollur, Thrissur- a well-known church, site of the famous 'Malakhayude Perunnal'.
- St. Peter and St.Paul's Church, Parumala, Pathanamthitta- important to Malankara Orthodox Christians as the burial site of St. Geevarghese Mar Gregorios.
- St. Mary's Soonoro Cathedral Angamaly, first church in Angamaly and seat of power of Syrian Christians till 16th century.
- Basilica of St. George, Angamaly, Ernakulam- largest of its kind in India and the second church in Angamaly, which was a former "Kurishu Palli" of St Mary's Jacobite church, Angamaly.
- Potta Ashram, Potta, Thrissur- a famous Catholic charismatic renewal centre in Kerala.
- St. George's Syro-Malabar Catholic Forane Church, Aruvithura, Kottayam- first church built in the Pala Eparchy and has a cross laid down by St. Thomas.
- St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Cathedral, Manarcad, Kottayam- contains part of the Holy Girdle and was the site of the Jacobite ritual of the Holy Mooron in 1982 by the Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas.
- Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor, Thrissur- a famous retreat centre with a rehabilitation centre, retirement home and other centres.
- Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam- first seminary in Kerala for the old Malankara Church and currently owned by the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
- St. Thomas Church, Malayattoor, Ernakulam- an international shrine and the site of St. Thomas' footprints and knee-prints, along with other historical sites.
- Manjinikkara Dayara, Omallur, Pathanamthitta- Syriac Orthodox monastery and contains the tombs of St. Ignatius Elias III and Mor Yulios Elias Qoro.
- St. George Church, Edappally, Ernakulam- foundation laid by Pope John Paul II and the site of the 'offering of fowls' during the Feast of St. George.
- St. Thomas Orthodox Cathedral, Kadampanad, Pathanamthitta- contains the tomb of Mar Thoma III and declared as a 'Marthoman Pilgrim Centre'.
- St. Peter and St. Paul's Church, Kolenchery, Ernakulam- contains the tomb of Mar Thoma VII and reopened recently for both Malankara Orthodox Christians and Jacobite Orthodox Christians.
- St. Thomas Church, Kothamangalam, Ernakulam- contains the tomb of St. Baselios Yeldo.
- St. Mary's Jacobite Church, Thamarachal, Ernakulam- pilgrim centre of St. Mary and famous for its 'Ettunombu'.
- St. George Orthodox Church, Chadanapally, Pathanamthitta- contained the relics of St. George for a while and site of the well-known 'Chembuduppu' annual ritual.
- St. George Orthodox Church, Cheppad, Alappuzha- contains the tomb of Mar Dionysius IV and a 600-year-old mural.
- St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi, Ernakulam- oldest European church and currently under control of the CSI.
- St. John Nepumsian's Forane Church Parappukkara, Thrissur- a rare pilgrim centre of St. John Nepumsian and contains a granite cross given by St. Francis Xavier.
- St. Joseph's Church, Mannanam, Kottayam- constructed by St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara and contains his tomb.
- Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom, Vallarpadam, Ernakulam- a National Pilgrim Centre and contains a privileged altar.
- St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Church, Kattachira, Alappuzha- declared as a Global Marian Pilgrim Centre and contains an icon of St. Mary with tears of aromatic oil flowing from the eyes.
- Marth Mariam Forane Church, Arakuzha, Ernakulam- one of the oldest churches in Kerala and where Mar Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly served as a parish priest.
- Jerusalem Retreat Center, Thalore, Thrissur- a famous Catholic charismatic renewal centre in Kerala.
- St.George Forane Church Aruvithura
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