Christianity in Kerala

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Christianity is the third-most practised religion in Kerala, accounting for 18% of the population according to the Indian census.[1] 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.[2][3]


Mar Thoma Sleeha Pilgrim Church, Kodungalloor where the relics of the right hand of the apostle is kept and venerated. This new church is built where it is believed that the first of the seven churches was built by St. Thomas in AD 52.

The tradition of origin among Saint Thomas Christians relates to the arrival of Saint Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus at the ancient seaport Muziris on the Kerala coast in AD 52[4][5][6]

The families near St.Mary's Church, Niranam, Sankarapuri, Pakalomattam, Kalli, and Kaliyankal were considered particularly preeminent, and historically the most aristocratic Syriac Christian families tended to claim descent from these families.

There is no contemporary evidence showing that Thomas had been in the subcontinent, but it was possible for an Aramaic-speaking Jew from Galilee to make such 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 and Thiruvithamcode Arappalli (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 existence Christian community who were mainly merchants. Other main places where churches were built are Angamaly(now), AD300 Ambhazhakkad (a place near chalakudy) and other parts of kerala.

Kuravilangad Church

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 rivalled the Hindus for religious and political hegemony in Kerala at the time.


English Church, Nadakkavu

The 6.141 million Christians in the 2011 census consists of 3.744 million Catholics (61.0 percent of the total Christians), 21.3% of Jacobite/ Orthodox Syrians that is 1.307 million, 405,000 Mar Thoma Syrians (6.6 percent), 274,000 Church of South India (CSI) adherents (4.5 percent), 183,483 Pentecost(3 percent), 30,571 Church of God (Anderson) members (0.5 percent) and 160,000 Dalit Christians (2.6 percent).

Roman Catholics in Kerala consist of Latin Catholics, Syro-Malabar Catholic Church & Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.[7] The most numerous among the Christian denominations in Kerala today are the Syro-Malabar Catholics, numbering about 2,346,000 in 2011. The Latin Catholics, who numbered about 933,000 in 2011, are the second most numerous Christian denominations. The Jacobite Syrian Christian community has a membership of 742,000 and the Orthodox Syrian community has a membership of 558,000; together they number 1.3 Million. The Mar Thoma denomination numbers about 900,000

Oriental Orthodox churches (West Syriac Rite)[edit]

Assyrian Church of the East - (East Syriac Rite)[edit]

Nasrani cross

Catholic churches[edit]

Other Oriental churches[edit]

United and Uniting (Anglican)[edit]

Other Protestant denominations[edit]

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. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 5 by Erwin Fahlbusch. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing – 2008. p. 285. ISBN 978-0-8028-2417-2.
  7. ^ Churches in Kerala, Kerala Catholic Bishops Council.
  8. ^ "Malankara Orthodox Church - Kottayam Seminary". Retrieved 2013-12-16.
  9. ^ World Christian Encyclopedia , Second edition, 2001 Volume 1, p. 368-371
  10. ^ "Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar". 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.
  • C. I. Issac, The Evolution of Christian Church in India, ISBN 978 81 7255 056 1 2014, Soorygatha Publishers, PB No 3517, Kochi 682 035