St.Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church

Waterford Ireland

Kerala (Indian) tradition is that Apostle St. Thomas established Christianity in Malankara in AD 52; it got organized and prospered with the arrival a group of Syrian Christians (Knanaites) from Urhoy (Edessa) in AD 345. The leadership of these Antiochean missionaries gave the local Christian community a new life, the Church in Malankara (Kerala) thereon adopted the rites & liturgies of the Syrian Church of Antioch and became a part of that ancient Patriarchal See. Thus the early Christian converts (St.Thomas Christians) along with the new Christian settlers (Knanaites), came to be called ‘the Syrian Christians’.

The Church in Malankara continued to be under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch, and his subordinate in the East, the Catholicos/Maphriyono, till the arrival of Nestorian bishops in 1490. Later with the coming of Portuguese in the 16th century, the Syrian Christians of Malankara came under the influence of Latin Catholics, but when they tried to forcibly introduce their teachings, the Malankara Syrian Christians revolted and finally re-organized once again under the guidance of the delegate of the Holy See of Antioch, thereby retaining the true Apostolic faith. In the 19th century, another split occurred in the Church when a group sided with the rich and influential European missionaries.

Again in the early 20th century, another group defied the Holy Church to form an independent faction claiming to be of nationalistic structure, after much harassment. Even in the midst of such great trials and tribulations, by God’s grace the ancient Syrian Orthodox Church, which in India (Malankara) also referred to as the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, continues to exist in this part of the world with its distinct identity, ardently practicing the true Apostolic faith taught by its Holy fathers.