Alexander de campo

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His Beatitude

Alexander de Campo

Bishop of Megara in Achala
Roman Catholic- Syrian rite of Malabar
Alexander de Campo1.jpg
Diocese Cranganore
Installed 31 January 1663
Term ended 1687
Predecessor Mar Abraham-Last Chaldean Bishop of Malabar(1564-1597), Mar Abraham appointed Archbishop of Angamaly by Pope Pius IV
Successor Kariattil Mar Ousep
Ordination 31 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 name Chandy[Alexander]
Born Muttuchira
Died 1687
Buried Marth Mariam Church, Kuravilangad.
Nationality Indian.

Alexander de Campo (ecclesiastical title) alias Palliveettil Chandy metran is the first known person to be appointed in India as a bishop from among the native Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Goa. Thus he should have become, according to the plans of Mar Abraham, supported by the Jesuits, the first indigenous Chaldean Metropolitan of the St Thomas Christians. However, the last letter of Mar Abraham, where he requested the Pope to confirm George's election as Bishop of Palur and his successor, is dated 13 January 1584. From another letter of Mar Abraham we learn that the consecration of Archdeacon George failed because of the latter’s death.

At first he was the advisor of the Bishop Mar Thoma I. He had an instrumental role in ordaining Mar Thoma I as a Bishop and later reclaiming eighty-four churches in the Catholic side after the Coonan Cross Oath. After his death from 1678 until 1785 there were no native bishops in the Catholic faction (Known as Pazhyacoor) of the Malankara Church. His cousin Archdeacon Thomas was democratically consecrated as a bishop by 12 priests in 1653. In 1665 Mar Gregorios Abdal Jaleel, a delegate of the Patriarch of Antioch came to Malabar and regularized the consecration of Mar Thoma as per the traditional standards. [1]


Mart Mariyam Church, Kuravilangad

Historically Saint Thomas Christians were part of the East Syrian 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.[2] Historically, the title of the head of the Church of Saint Thomas was the 'Metropolitan and the Gate of India'. Ancient documents vouch for this.[3][4]

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 the Christians of Saint Thomas into a mere suffragan of the Archdiocese of Goa of Latin rite. Later, the Metropolitanate was reinstated and the Archdiocese of Angamaly was renamed as Archdiocese of Kodungalloor and its seat moved to Kodungalloor with Latin Prelates.

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 any Oriental churches and they even arrested and deported Mar Ahatalla, a bishop of Syriac Rite arrived in Mailappore. Thomas Christians rose up and revolted against the Portuguese in AD 1653 and democratically consecrated the Arch Deacon Parambil Thoma 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.[5][6][7]

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 Mattancherry, 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 'Coonan Cross' (the open-air Cross which stands outside the church at Mattancherry. 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
Alengad Church

Rome intervened and Carmelite missionaries were sent to win the Thomas Christians back. Carmelites could convince the majority that the local church needed bishops and the consecration of the Arch Deacon Thomas was irregular as the consecration was conducted not by any bishop but by twelve priests. Many leaders of the community rejoined the missionaries. Later, due to political reasons, Portuguese missionaries had to leave the country and they consecrated Palliveettil Chandy Cathanar as the Bishop Alexander de Campo for the Catholic Thomas Christians on 1 February 1663. Thus, the majority of Thomas Christians consolidated under the native Bishop Palliveettil Chandy, keeping their Syro Chaldean rite of worship. Palliveettil Mar Chandy used the historic title 'The Metropolitan and the Gate of all India'. This title denotes a quasi-patriarchal status with all India jurisdiction.[8][9]

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 Palliveettil Chandy, while he was the vicar of Kuravilangad parish (c.1640-1663)

He belonged to the Palliveetti family at Muttuchira. He was Vicar of Kuravilangad Parish and later had Kuravilangad as his headquarters.

He was a native of Muttuchira parish, in the present central Kerala. As a priest his original name was Father Palliveettil 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 pontifical mass at muttuchira church.[10] 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 Palliveettiil 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 don't allow any other Europeans 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 Syrian Catholic but born as an Indian in the sense that he has a half Portuguese ethnicity. This election shook the confidence of Syrian Catholics in Carmelites and quarrels started to arise. Mar Palliveettil Chandy died in 1687 and was buried at Kuravilangad.[11]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ The Orthodox Church of India: history and faith, Volume 1,page60
  2. ^ Dr.Placid Podipara, (1938) "The Syrian Church of Malabar"
  3. ^ Placid Podipara, The Hierarchy of Syro Malabar Church, Ch IV in Collected works of Rev Dr Placid Podipara, vol I San Jose Publications, Mannanam, pp 666-667
  4. ^
  5. ^ A History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to AD 1707 By Stephen Neill Page 319-320
  6. ^ Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, " Eastern Christianity in India"
  7. ^ Malabar manual, Volume 1 By William Logan page 206
  8. ^ Joseph Thekkedathu, pous cit pp96-100
  9. ^ Rev Dr Placid Podipara, The Hierarchy of Syro Malabar Church, in Collected works of Rev Dr Placid Podipara CMI, Vol I p 719
  10. ^ J. P. M. van der Ploeg,The Christians of St. Thomas in South India and their Syriac manuscripts page 30
  11. ^


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