Malabar Independent Syrian Church

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Malabar Independent Syrian church
Western Syriac Cross.svg
ClassificationIndependent Oriental Orthodox
MetropolitanHasyo Mar Baselios Cyril
FounderAbraham Mor Koorilose
Separated fromMalankara Syrian Church
Primary schools3
Secondary schools1
Other name(s)Thozhyur Sabha
Anjoor Church

The Malabar Independent Syrian Church, also known as the Thozhiyur Church, is a Christian church centred in Kerala, India. It is one of the churches of the Saint Thomas Christian community, which traces its origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.

The church split from the main body of India's Malankara Church in 1772. The church obtained its current name after a court verdict in 1862; although the church is independent under the Malankara umbrella, the church faith and traditions are strictly Oriental Orthodox, adhering to the West Syriac Rite and consistently using western Syriac and Malayalam during the Holy Qurbana (Qurbono Qadisho).

Today the church remains small, with about 35,000 members, and maintains good relations with the other Malankara churches.

Part of a series on
Saint Thomas Christians
Saint Thomas Christian cross
Saint Thomas · Thomas of Cana · Mar Sabor and Mar Proth · Tharisapalli plates · Synod of Diamper · Coonan Cross Oath
Crosses · Denominations · Churches · Syriac language · Music
Prominent persons
Abraham Malpan · Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar · Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban · Kuriakose Elias Chavara · Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly · Mar Thoma I · Saint Alphonsa · Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi · Kariattil Mar Ousep · Geevarghese Dionysius of Vattasseril · Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala · Geevarghese Ivanios · Euphrasia Eluvathingal · Thoma of Villarvattom
Margamkali · Parichamuttukali · Cuisine · Suriyani Malayalam
A diagram showing the history of the divisions among the Saint Thomas Christians (click to enlarge).


The Saint Thomas Christians trace their origins to Thomas the Apostle, who according to tradition proselytized in India in the 1st century. By the 7th century they were part of the Church of the East, centred in Persia.[1] The entire community remained united until the 17th century, when disputes with the Portuguese padroado in India led to the Coonan Cross Oath of 1653 and the division of the Saint Thomas Christians into Latin Catholic and Malankara Church[2][3] The independent branch, known as the Malankara Church, forged a relationship with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.[4]

However, relations between the Syriac Orthodox hierarchy and the native clergy were sometimes strained. In 1772 Bishop Mar Gregorios, a representative of the Syriac Orthodox hierarchy from the Middle East, had grown dissatisfied with how the Metropolitan Mar Dionysius I had treated him. Against Dionysius' wishes, Gregorios consecrated as bishop a leading dissenter, the monk Kattumangatt Kurien, in a secret but canonically legitimate ceremony. The new bishop took the name Mar Cyril (Koorilos), and he was designated Gregorios' sole heir.[5]

Cyril claimed authority over the parishes of Cochin, and initially received the support of the Raja of Cochin. However, Dionysus saw him as a threat to his power, and in 1774 he appealed to the Raja and to the British authorities in India to suppress the rival bishop.[5][6] Cyril left for Thozhiyur, outside their jurisdiction, and established what would become an independent church.[7] This was the first of several churches to split off from the Malankara Church.[6]

Cyril's church was always small, but maintained stability by attracting devoted priests and emphasizing regularity in the ecclesiastical order. In 1794 Cyril consecrated his brother Geevarghese as bishop; Geevarghese succeeded Cyril as Mar Cyril II in 1802, and the succession has proceeded unbroken since.[5] As a result of an 1862 court case, the Madras High Court confirmed the Thozhiyur church was independent Malankara church, and it has subsequently been known as the Malabar Independent Syrian Church.[7]

Ecumenical relations[edit]

The Malabar Independent Syrian Church maintains good relations with the other Malankara churches especially its relationship with Marthoma Syrian church. Despite its small size, it has had a significant impact on the history of the Saint Thomas Christian community. On several occasions Thoziyur bishops have stepped in to consecrate bishops for the other churches when the episcopal succession, and therefore the churches themselves, were in danger.[5] Mar Philoxenos II Kidangan (1811–1829) of the Thozhiyur Church consecrated three successive bishops in the Malankara Church: Mar Dionysius II on 22 March 1816, Mar Dionysius III on 19 October 1817, and Mar Dionysius IV on 27 August 1825.[8]

Malabar Independent Syrian Church is a member of the Christian Conference of Asia, the Council of Churches in India, and the Kerala Council of Churches. Other ecumenical links have been developed, not least with the Anglican and Lutheran Churches. This has been facilitated through a support group based in England, where the Church is a registered charitable trust.


The Metropolitans of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church:

  • Mar Koorilos Abraham I (1772–1802)
  • Mar Koorilose Geevargheese II (1802-1808)
  • Joseph Mar Evaniose (1807 6 months only)
  • Zacharia Mar Philexenos (1807–1811)
  • Geevarghese Mar Philexenos (1811–1829)
  • Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (1829–1856)
  • Joseph Mar Koorilose (1856–1888)
  • Joseph Mar Athanasius (1888–1898)
  • Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (1898–1935)
  • Kuriakose Mar Koorilose (1935–1947)
  • Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (1948–1967)
  • Paulose Mar Philexenos (1967–1977) (joined the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and replaced)
  • Mathews Mar Koorilose (1978–1986)
  • Joseph Mar Koorilose (1986-2014)

After constitutional change

  • Hasyo Mar Baselios Cyril




  • St. George's Chapel, Akathiyur, Kerala.
  • Mar Bahanan Chapel, Anjoor Bazar, Kerala.
  • Sleeba (Cross Memorial) Chapel, Thozhiyur, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.
  • Mar Koorilose bava Chapel Ottapilave (Thrissur) Dt., Kerala
  • St George Chapel Thiruthikkad (Thrissur) Dt.,
  • Mar Koorilose Chapel, Bangalore, Karnataka.



  • Mar Koorilose Mission Hospital, Anjoor, Thozhiyur P.O., Thrissur Dt., Kerala – 680 520.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baum, p. 53.
  2. ^ Neill, p. 214.
  3. ^ Neill, p. 319.
  4. ^ "Christians of Saint Thomas". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d Neill, p. 70.
  6. ^ a b Vadakkekara, p. 92.
  7. ^ a b Burgess, p. 175.
  8. ^ Rev. K. C. Varghese Kassessa. (1972). History of Malabar Independent Syrian Church. (Malayam). Page 62.


  • Baum, Wilhelm; Winkler, Dietmar W. (2003). The Church of the East: A Concise History. London-New York: Routledge-Curzon.
  • Burgess, Michael (2005). The Eastern Orthodox Churches. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-2145-2.
  • Frykenberg, Robert Eric (2008). Christianity in India: From Beginnings to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Neill, Stephen (2004). A History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to AD 1707. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-54885-3. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  • Neill, Stephen (2002). A History of Christianity in India: 1707-1858, Volume 2. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-89332-1. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  • Vadakkekara, Benedict (2007). Origin of Christianity in India: a Historiographical Critique. Media House Delhi.

Further reading[edit]

The following are Malayalam works:

  • Mathew, N.M. (2007). Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram, (History of the Marthoma Church), Volume 1.(2006) and Volume II (2007). Pub. E.J.Institute, Thiruvalla
  • Kochumon, M.P., (1995) Parisuddha Kattumangatte Bavamar. (The saintly bishops of Kattumangattu) Pub. By Most Rev.Joseph Mar Koorilose Metropolitan.
  • Porkulam, A.K.C.. (2003) Parisudha Kattumangatte Bavamar Thiruvachanathiludey.(St. Kattumangattu bishops through the Bible), Trissur.
  • Varughese, Rev.K.C., (1972). Malabar Swathantra Suryani Sabhyude Charitram (History of the Malankar Independednt Suryani Church)

External links[edit]