Malabar Independent Syrian Church
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|Malabar Independent Syrian church|
|Founder||Abraham Mar Koorilose|
|Separated from||Malankara Syrian Church|
|Other name(s)||Thozhyur Sabah
Considered part of the Syriac Orthodox Group of churches in India, 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.
Today the church remains small, with about 35,000 members, and maintains good relations with the other Malankara churches.
HistoryThomas 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. 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 Catholic and independent branches. The independent branch, known as the Malankara Church, forged a relationship with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.
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.
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. Cyril left for Thozhiyur, outside their jurisdiction, and established what would become an independent church. This was the first of several churches to split off from the Malankara Church.
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. 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.
Ecumenical relationsThe Malabar Independent Syrian Church maintains good relations with the other Malankara churches. 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. Mar Philoxenos II Kidangan (1811–1829) of the Thozhiyur Church consecrated three successive bishops in the Malankara Church: Mar Dionysius II on March 22, 1816, Mar Dionysius III on October 19, 1817, and Mar Dionysius IV on August 27, 1825.
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.
MetropolitansFollowing is the list of Metropolitans of the Malabar Independent Syrian church.
- Mar Cyril I (Kattumangatt Kurien)– (1772–1802).
- Mar Cyril II (Kattumangatt Geevarghese) – (1802–1807).
- Skaria Mar Philexenos (Cheeran) – (1807–1811)
- Geevarghese Mar Philexenos II (Kidangan) (1811–1829)
- Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (Kuthoorey) (1829–1856).
- Joseph Mar Koorilose (Alathoorey) (1856–1888).
- Joseph Mar Athanasius. (Maliyakal) (1888–1898)
- Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (Karumamkuzhi Pulikkottil) (1898–1935)
- Kuriakose Mar Koorilose (Kuthoorey) (1935–1947)
- Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (Cheeran) (1948–1967)
- Paulose Mar Philexenos (Ayankulangara) (1967–1977)
- Mathews Mar Koorilose (Kuthoorey) (1978–1986)
- Joseph Mar Koorilose (Alathoorey) (27 August 1986)
- Cyril Mar Baselius Metropolitan.