Palliveettil Mar Chandy

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Palliveettil Mar Chandy
Saint Thomas Christians (Pazhayakoor faction)
Alexander de Campo1.jpg
Installed31 January 1663
Term ended1687
SuccessorKariattil Mar Ousep
Ordination31 January 1663 (At Kaduthuruthi by Msgr. Joseph, with the title of Titular Bishop of Megara in Achala and Vicar Apostolic and Administrator of the Archbishopric of Cranganore).
Personal details
Birth nameChandy
BuriedMarth Mariam Syro-Malabar Church, Kuravilangad.

Palliveettil Chandy (latinised Alexander de Campo) is the first known person to be appointed in India as a Metropolitan from among the native Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala by the Roman Catholic Church. He was appointed as a rebel bishop against the Mar Thoma I, who was the then head of Malankara Nasranis. (There was a plan to appoint Archdeacon George of Christ, by Mar Abraham (1568–1597) as Metropolitan of India. Thus he should have become, according to the plans of Mar Abraham, supported by the Jesuits, the first indigenous Chaldaean Metropolitan of the St Thomas Christians. However, from the last letter of Mar Abraham, where he requests the Pope to confirm George’s election as Bishop of Palayur and his successor, is dated 13 January 1584, while from another letter of the same Mar Abraham we learn that the consecration of George failed because of the latter’s death.[1]).

He had an instrumental role in claiming eighty-four churches onto Catholic side after the Coonan Cross Oath.[2] After his death from 1678 till 1783 there were no native Bishops in the Catholic faction known as Pazhyakoor) of the Malankara Church. His cousin Archdeacon Thomas, the legitimate leader and last archdeacon, was consecrated as a bishop by 12 priests in 1653. By 1665 Mar Gregorios Abdul Jaleel, said to be a delegate of the Patriarch of Antioch was able to come to Malabar and regularized the consecration of Mar Thoma.[2]


Tomb of Palliveettil Mar Chandy, Metropolitan and Gate of All India, inside the Madbaha of Marth Mariam Syro-Malabar Church, Kuravilangad.
Marth Mariam Syro-Malabar Church, Kuravilangad.

Historically Saint Thomas Christians were part of East Syriac Church. They came into direct communion with the Church of Rome through the Chaldean Patriarchate with the arrival of Mar Joseph Sulaqa and Mar Elias in AD 1554.[3] Historically, the title of the head of the Church of Saint Thomas was the 'Metropolitan and the Gate of India'. Ancient documents vouches this.[4][5]

After the infamous Synod of Diamper in 1599, the Church of Saint Thomas Christians became subjected to Latin rite Bishops. The Latin Missionaries broke the historic connection of Thomas Christians with the Patriarchate of Chaldeans and downgraded the ancient Church of Christians of Saint Thomas into a mere suffragan of the Arch diocese of Goa of Latin rite. Later, the Metropolitanate was reinstated and the Arch Diocese of Angamaly was renamed as Archdiocese of Kodungalloor and its seat moved to Kodungalloor with Latin Prelates.[6]

Even though the Thomas Christians were subjected to Latin rite prelates in Latin Rite hierarchy, the community consolidated under the leadership of the Arch Deacons as a separate rite with its own liturgy and traditions. The Missionaries began to impose Latinisations in their rite of worship and tried to eliminate the authority and status of the Arch Deaconate and thereby dishonour the status of their ancient Church of Malabar. The community secretly tried to get Prelates from the Patriarchate of Chaldeans and other Eastern Churches.

The missionaries used their political power to prevent Thomas Christians from contacting with any Oriental Churches and they even arrested and deported Mar Ahatalla, a Bishop of Syriac Rite arrived in Mailappore.[7] Thomas Christians rose up and revolted against the Portuguese in AD 1653 and consecrated (invalidly) the Arch Deacon Palliveettil Thomas as the Bishop of Thomas Christians. This revolt was nearly complete and that changed the politics.

A protest took place in 1653 with the Coonan Cross Oath. Under the leadership of Archdeacon Thomas, the Thomas Christians publicly took an oath that they would not obey the Jesuit bishops.[8][9][10]

The situation is best explained by the Stephen Neill(an Anglican missionary,from Scotland) in his book "A History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to AD 1707".

"In January 1653 priests and people assembled in the church of Our Lady at Mattanceri, and standing in front of a cross and lighted candles swore upon the holy Gospel that they would no longer obey Garcia, and that they would have nothing further to do with the jesuits they would recognise the archdeacon as the governor of their church. This is the famous oath of the ‘ Koonen Cross ` (the open-air Cross which stands outside the church at Mattnchery. The Thomas Christians did not at any point suggest that they wished to separate themselves from the pope. They could no longer tolerate the arrogance of Garcia. And their detestation of the jesuits, to whose overbearing attitude and lack of sympathy they attributed all their troubles,breathes through all the documents of the time. But let the pope send them a true bishop not a jesuit, and they will be pleased to receive and obey him."

A History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to AD 1707 By Stephen Neill page 326-327

St. Mary's Syro-Malabar Church, Alangad

Rome intervened and Carmelite Missionaries were sent to win the Thomas Christians back. Carmelites could convince the majority that the local church needs Bishops and the consecration of the Arch Deacon Thomas was claimed to be invalid by the Catholics as the consecration was conducted not by any Bishops, but by twelve priests only. But this was a practice existed in the ancient times, so could not be considered as illegitimate.Many leaders of the community rejoined the missionaries and later, due to political reasons, Portuguese Missionaries had to leave the country and they consecrated Palliveettil Chandy kathanaar as the Bishop for the Catholic Thomas Christians on 1 February 1663. He could convince a good number of people in his favor, because the then head of the church (Marthoma 1st) was consecrated by 12 priests where as Chandy Kathanaar was consecrated by an authoritative Bhishop. This resulted in the first split in the Malankara Church history. The broke away faction under the leadership of Chandy Kathanaar was later called as Syro Malabar church, where as the original malankara church continued to be loyal with Mar Thoma I.

The Malankara church later entered in spiritual relation with the Syrian Orthodox Church and hence the church was called as Malankara Orthodox from then on. This Malankara church still maintaining its Marthoman lineage and autocephalous nature, which was the ultimate goal of Coonan Cross Oath. Later Palliveettil Mar Chandy applied the historic title 'The Metropolitan and the Gate of all India'. This title denotes a Quasi Patriarchal status with all India jurisdiction.[11][12]

Early life and ordination[edit]

This church dedicated to the holy name of St. Sebastian, was built by the Parambil Chandy Kathanar – Later Bishop Mar Parambil Chandy, while he was the vicar of Kuravilangad parish (c.1640-1663)

He belonged to the Palliveettil family at Muttuchira. The parambil building of Parambrem Kara existed there till two centuries back. Parambil Kuriakose married into Kudukkasserry and the son born to the couple later became the Bishop. De Campo is the Latin translation of Parambil the Malayalam family name. He was Vicar of Kuravilangad Parish and later had Kuravilangad as his headquarters.[13]

He was a native of Muttuchira parish, in the present central Kerala. As a priest his original name was Father Parambil Chandy. He was consecrated Titular Bishop of Megara in Achala and Vicar Apostolic and Administrator of the Archbishopric of Cranganore on 31 January 1663, at Kaduthuruthy. He celebrated his first ponthifical mass at muttuchira church.[14] His appointment followed representations for the appointment of native Indians as bishops following the split in the church on account of the Coonan Cross Oath.

Later years and Death[edit]

In 1674, Mar Palliveetil Chandy requested Rome to elect a coadjutor and proposed his nephew, Mathew Kunnel for the position. Carmelites arrived in India in 1676, with special Dutch passports (as Dutch won't allow any other European to work in their areas) and they were asked by Rome to elect an Indian. They elected Raphael Figueredo in 1677, who was not a Roman Syrian Catholic but born as an Indian in the sense that he was a half caste Portuguese. This election shook the confidence Roman faction had in Carmelites and quarrels started to arise. Palliveettil Chandy died in 1687 and was buried at Kuravilangad.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bremer, Ernst; Röhl, Susanne, Language of religion, language of the people: medieval Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, p. 401
  2. ^ a b Neill, Stephen, A History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to AD 1707, pp. 326–7
  3. ^ Podipara, Dr.Placid (1938), The Syrian Church of Malabar
  4. ^ Podipara, Placid, The Hierarchy of Syro Malabar Church: chapter IV in Collected works of Rev Dr Placid Podipara, vol I, Mannanam: San Jose Publications, pp. 666–7
  5. ^ "SRITE". Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  6. ^ Thekkedathu, Joseph, History of Christianity in India, Vol II, p. 75
  7. ^ Thekkedathu, Joseph, opus cit, pp. 94–5
  8. ^ Neill, Stephen, A History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to AD 1707, pp. 319–20
  9. ^ Tisserant, Eugene Cardinal, Eastern Christianity in India
  10. ^ Logan, William, Malabar manual, Volume 1, p. 206
  11. ^ Thekkedathu, Joseph, opus cit, pp. 96–100
  12. ^ Podipara, Dr.Placid, The Hierarchy of Syro Malabar Church, in Collected works of Rev Dr Placid Podipara CMI, Vol I, p. 719
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ J. P. M. van der Ploeg,The Christians of St. Thomas in South India and their Syriac manuscripts page 30
  15. ^ "Kerala Syrian Christian, Thomas the Apostle in India, The tomb of the Apostles, Persian Church, Syond of Diamper - Coonan Cross Oath, Subsequent divisions and the Nasrani People". Nasranis. 13 February 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2017.

External links[edit]

  • Mar Chandy Parambil
  • St Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India - Edited by George Menachery (1998).
  • History of Christianity in India - Mundadan, A. Mathias (1984).