Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam

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The Orthodox Theological Seminary also known as Old Seminary (Pazhaya Seminari) or M.D Seminary is a seminary of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. It was founded in 1815 by Colonel John Monroe with the help of the priest-monk Ittoop Ramban(later Mar Dionysius II) to serve the then-unified Malankara Syrian Church, to invite CMS missionaries to teach theology. At that time deacons were ordianed as priests without an organized theological education. After the arrival of CMS missionaries theological education was organized for the priests. It is the first theological school in Kerala.[1]

Colonel John Monroe, the British Resident in the Kingdom of Travancore offered his unreserved support for the initiative. The Queen of Travancore granted 16 acres (65,000 m2) of tax-free land, Rs.20,000 and the necessary timber for the construction of the Seminary. The work started in 1813 and the building was completed and classes began in March 1815.

The beginning of the Seminary synchronized with the arrival of Church Missionary Society (C.M.S) Missionaries to Kerala. For some years the relationship between the missionaries and the Church was one of cordial co-operation. The missionaries taught the Bible and biblical languages in the Seminary. The early principals were Rev. Benjamin Bailey and Rev. Henry Baker.

After some time the relationship of the Church with the later missionaries became strained as they wanted to introduce Anglican doctrines in the Church which eventually led to disputes and litigation. The missionaries got separated from the Malankara Church and they established the Anglican Church in Kerala.

It was the residence and headquarters of the Malankara Metropolitan, the chief Metropolitan of the Malankara Church. The academic importance of the Seminary suffered when it became the centre of church administration. It continued the programme of training ordinands. Eminent Malpans (teachers of theology and liturgy) rendered service to the institution. Some of the distinguished teachers include Abraham malpan, Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala, Geevarghese Mar Dionysius of Vattasseril, Konat Mathan Corepiscopa, Skaria Cheriamadam, Skaria Elavinamannil, Alexander Mattakkal, Augen Mar Timotheos (later Catholicos Baselios Augen I), Mr. V.K.Mathews (later Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I), Philipose Mar Theophilus and Paulos Mar Gregorios.[1]

In 1942, the Seminary was modernized. A systematised course of studies was introduced. A new generation of qualified professors of theology and biblical studies took responsibility for running the Seminary. Classes and students' residence were moved to the new buildings in the campus of the M.D. Seminary at Kottayam. When the Catholicos moved his residence from the Old Seminary to the present Devalokam, theological education was once again brought back to the Old Seminary. In 1964 the Seminary became affiliated to the Serampore University for its B.D. degree course. In 1965, the 150th year of its founding, was celebrated on a grand scale in the presence of ecclesiastical dignitaries and church leaders.

The foundation stone of the new building was laid by Vasken I, Supreme Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Etchmiadzin on 23 December 1963 during his visit to the Indian Orthodox Church. Justinian, the Patriarch of Romania, declared open the new building on 7 January 1969, during his visit to the Malankara Orthodox Church. Other eminent visitors to the Seminary include Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, Patriarch Pimen I of Moscow of Moscow and All Russia, Patriarch Ilia of Georgia and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

The M. D. Syrian Orthodox Seminary, in an ecumenical collaboration with the C.S.I Seminary(KUT) Trivandrum and the, Marthoma Seminary,Kottayam, runs the prestigious Master's and Doctoral programmes under the banner of the Federated Faculty for Research in Religion and Culture.[1]

On 21 April 2015 a postage stamp commemorating the 200 years of the Orthodox Theological Seminary was released by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Official Website". Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Postage Stamp commemorating 200 years Old Kottayam Seminary released". news.biharprabha.com. 21 April 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015.