Formation of the
English East India Company established a factory at Anjengo in Travancore in 1685by obtaining land from the Attingal Rani. In the 18th century. the fear of invasion from Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan, forced the government of Travancore to get military protection from the English East India Company. In November 1795, a treaty of perpetual friendship and alliance was signed between the Rajah of Travancore and the East India Company. The treaty was again modified in 1805, which established British paramountcy over Travancore. The treaty made it possible for a permanent presence of a British Resident in the Court of Travancore. The first Resident was Col. Colin Macaulay (1800-1810). He was followed by Col. John Munro (1810-1819).
Col Monroe was a strong
Anglican Christian and was interested in the CMS and its activity and also in
its beginnings in the crucible of the campaign to abolish slavery, a small
group of pioneers became a worldwide network of people in mission/.The
Society was founded in
The overseas mission
work of CMS began in
In 1808 Marthoma VI (Mar Dionysius I) made an attempt to raise funds from among the community and was able to collect , 840 poovarahans (star pagoda gold coins = Rs 2,940 of that time) from the Malankara Syrian Christian community. To this amount the British resident in Travancore, Col. Macaulay added another 2,160 Poovarahans (Rs 7,560) a contribution from the government of Tranvancore from money collected as fines from Hindus by the Travancore government for their crimes against the Syrian Christians - a total of 3000 Poovarahan equivalent to Rs 10,500/- a large amount at that time. Marthoma VII deposited this money at annual interest of 8% which was to be paid to the Church annually. This investment was called Vattipanam (interest money).
Poo Varahan - Star Pagoda Gold Coin of East India Company was the gold coin minted in
Though many of the Jacobite theology was at variance with the
Protestant theology there was lot of cooperation between the CMS and the
The Orthodox Church had no educational institution of its own for the training of candidates to priest hood. To remedy this in 1813 Pulikottil Joseph Ramban, a senior priest of the church from Kunnamkulam took the initiative and as the result of his work the Kottayam Seminary was started in 1815. The Bishops of Malankara Syrian Christian Church, Pulikkottu Mar Divannaciose (1817-18), Punnatra Mar Divannaciose (1818-27) and Cheppadu Mar Divannaciose (1827-52) and they all helped in the project.
Col. John Munro impressed by the plan encouraged Joseph Ramban (Professor Joseph) by all possible means at his disposal. At that time Col. Munroe was both the Resident of the Crown of England and also the Divan (Prime Minister) of the then ruling Rani Laxmi Bhai, the Regent Ruler of Travancore. Hence he was able to give to the church 16 acres of land and the timber for construction of the buildings and also the cost of Rs.2000 for the construction of the Seminary.
Soon the resident came to realize that according
to the original stipulation the recipient of the interest - the Vatti Panam
- had to be the Metropolitan of the
Orthodox Church and that the Seminary needed competent teachers to undertake
teaching work in it. It appears that there was some conflict of interest
between the Marthoma and Monroe. The
only way to channel the money to the seminary was to make Joseph Ramban a Bishop.
The only bishop available outside of Marthoma at that time who could
lend co-operation to perform the consecration of was the Metropolitan of Thozhiyur. Thozhiur
was glad to extend this courtesy to the Resident when he was so requested. Joseph Ramban, thus, was ordained as bishop
with the name Mar Dionysius II in 1816 and later a Royal proclamation from both
the states of Travancore and
At the time of Gee Varghese mar phelexinos (kidangan) of Thozhiyur (1811-1829) Malankara church was in series of troubles in its administration. Thozhiyur bishop consecrated three consecutive bishops for Malankara as Malankara Methran viz. Pulikkottil Mar Divannasios, Punnathra Mar Divannasios and Cheppat Mar Divannasios. Even Gee varghese mar Phelexinos (kidangan) himself was in charge of Malankara Methran for a short period. Thus the church leaders of Malankara Syrian Christian Church and C.M.S. worked together from 1816 to 1836.
The theological differences came to surface and in
January 16, 1836 there was clear rift between the Missionaries and the Syrian
Churches, and CMS and the Church separated. CMS then turned to evangelization
among the Hindus. The "Old Seminary" at Kottayam today After the excommunication of
Malankara Metropolitan Vattasseril Dionysius VI by Patriarch Abdulla II,
division and strife arose in the church, leading to the creation of two rival
Malankara Metropolitans. In 1913, the Secretary of State for India filed an
interpleader suit in the District Court of Trivandrum seeking a declaration
from the court as to which of the two rival sets of trustees were entitled
to draw the interest on deposit with the
British treasury by Mar Thoma VII. This is known as the ‘Vattipanam Case’. Bishops began to excommunicate each other on
the basis. A Royal proclamation was
thereby issued to recognize Mar Dionysious who was ordained by Mar Philexenos
of Thozhyoor Church as the legar head of the Malankara Church. Mar Thoma
VIII consecrated a successor in Mar Thoma IX. But Pulikkottil Mar Dionysious dethroned him
and were validated by Royal proclamation.
The next two prelates were also confirmed by Royal proclamations. Thus by
1816, Mar Thoma Metropolitan became the
highest authority of the Church, and was recognized by the native rulers
through royal edicts in this favour. Mar Dionysius II was the first to receive
such a royal edict.
written by Punnathra
Malankara Metropolitan from 1817 to 1825,
to Lord Gambier, President
of Church Missionary Society
and Bishop Henry, in the year 1821.
written in Syriac was translated by Professor Lee May and published in the
'Christian Journal and Letera ry Register'
Volume VII, published in the year 1823.
In the name of the eternal and necessary existence the Almighty.
Mar Dionysius, metropolitan of the Jacobite Syrians in Malabar, subject to the authority of our father, Mar Ignatius, patriarch, who presides in the apostolic see of Antioch of Syria, beloved of the Messiah.
Love from Christ and from the people of all the churches to lord Gambier, the illustrious, honourable and renowned president; and to our brother, Mar Henry, the honoured bishop of the city of Gloucester; and to the priests and deacons, and true Christians, great and small, in the church of England, who are devoted to these things, and are mindful of them, who both assist and provide that we should teach and preach the precepts of our Lord Jesus Christ. Love from God, and grace from his only begotten Son, and protection from the Holy Ghost, be with you all evermore! Amen.
Beloved, kind, and honoured brethren in Christ, we would make known to you in a few words, what has happened to us from the depth of our poverty.
We who are called Syrian-Jacobites, and
reside in the land of Malabar, even from the times of Mar Thomas the holy
apostle until the wall of Cochin was taken in the reign of king Purgis, kept
the true faith according to the manner of the Syrian Jacobites, of real glory,
without division or confusion. But by the power of the Franks our Jacobite
Syrian fathers and leaders were prohibited from coming from
to the faith of the pope of
In the year of our Lord 1653, came our
spiritual father Mar Ignatius the Patriarch from
Again in the year of our Lord 1753 came to us
some holy Jacobite Syrian fathers from
We now have fifty five Jacobite Syrian churches in Malabar and as the Franks are more powerful and rich than we are they are hourly laying the trap of the pope for us and endeavouring to take us in it and from the power of a kingdom filled with idols the heathen have subdued us Jacobite Syrians just as Pharoah king of Egypt subdued the children of Israel, and had no pity. And, as the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, and delivered the children of Israel from the house of bondage of Pharoah, king of Egypt; so the Lord beheld our sorrows and afflictions; and there have been sent to us an illustrious leader, named Macaulay, and Mar Buchanan, the illustrious priest: and when they came to us, and saw our subjugation, and sorrow, and poverty, they brought us forth from the house of bondage, and consoled us with kind words, and assisted us with money.
After this, another illustrious leader was sent to us, named Munró: and as Joshua, the son of Nun, brought Israel to the land of promise, and put them in possession of Canaan; so did this illustrious, discerning, and prudent leader, bring back and save us poor people from the hand of violence: and he built a school and one church for us, in the place called Cotym; which he did with great trouble, labour, and expense, in order that our eyes, made dim by the depth of our poverty, may be opened by the knowledge of the declarations of the holy and divine books. All the deacons, moreover, and children, who are taught in the school of our place, are cherished by the assistance of this illustrious leader.
Again the priest Benjamin* the priest Joseph, and the priest Henry, our spiritual and temporal friends, brothers, and assistants, whom you have sent to us, that they may root out the thorns and tares from among the children of God, are anxiously seeking all the requisites for the redemption of our souls, as well as constantly teaching all the deacons and children of our place the English language.
The books of the New Testament which ye sent us, we divided, and gave to the churches in Malabar; and, with great joy, does every man present his prayer unto God for you: and we trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is merciful to those who show mercy, that he will give you a good reward in the day of judgment, even thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold, for your work and labour for us, and that he will make us rejoice with you But we are unable to recompense you by any earthly riches: the more however shall we supplicate God daily that your dominion may be increased, and that he would subdue those that hate you under your feet: and daily may your preaching in Christ Jesus be increased; and may God raise up among you leaders who fear God, and who are kind to the poor, endued also with knowledge and prudence!
We have heard too that the people of your land are beseeching God for us, that he would supply and complete that which is defective and imperfect, both in our bodies and souls.
Respecting Samuel the priest, who is held in honour by us, we received the letter which he sent by the hand of Joseph the priest; and we read and understood what was written in it: and very much did we rejoice, with exceeding great joy on account of your friendship for us. And may the Lord, who both hears prayers and grants petitions, lengthen your lives, and increase your peace!
But we call to mind the adage, " A glance is enough for the intelligent," and avoid prolixity.
Besides, James, the honoured priest, will make known to you all that is going on among us. And I, the Metropolitan Mar Dionysius, your friend, very cordially salute you: also Abraham the priest, our obedient servant, and all the deacons, and children that are in the school. All the priests, moreover, and deacons, and the whole congregation of Christians who are in all the churches in Malabar, salute you. May grace be with you all: even so. Amen !
Our Father which art in heaven &c.
Remain firm in the power of Jesus!
In the year of our Lord 1821.
On the third of the month Ranun the first, Friday.
(Signed) MAR DIONYSÍUS, Metropolitan of Malabar
Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius (Mar Thoma XII) did not like the move of the reformers within the church nor the strength and presence of the CMS. So he convened a Synod at Mavelikkara in 1836, A declaration was made in the synod as follows:
“We are Jacobite Syrians subject to the patriarch of
So the missionaries
turned to the non-Christians and started working among them. According to a
panchayat court verdict, the properties and schools which were common among the
missionaries and the
The resolution (Padiyola), unanimously accepted at the Mavelikara Synod
of AD.1836, held at the Mavelikara Puthiyakavu St.Mary's church.
In the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost the one true God, Padiyola (agreement) drawn up in the year of our Lord 1836 corresponding 5th Makarom 1011 at the church dedicated to the Virgin Mother of Lord at Mavelikara, between Mar Dionyosious Metropolitan of the Jacobite Syrian Church of Malankarai subject to the supremacy of Mar Ignatius Patriarch, the Father of Fathers, and the Chief of Chiefs ruling the throne of St. Peter of Antioch, the mother of all Churches and his successor Mar Kurilos, and the vicars, priests and parishioners of Ankamali and other churches under the charge of the said Metropolitan.
That whereas an interview held at Kottayam between the Rt.Rev. Daniel, Lord Bishop of Calcutta and the Metropolitan, in Vrischikam last, it was proposed by the former that certain changes should be introduced in the Liturgies and ordinances of our Syrian Church and whereas it was stated in reply that a conference of all the churches would be held on the subject and its determination made known, we the Jacobite Syrians being subject to the supremacy of the Patriarch of Antioch and observing as we do the Liturgies and ordinance instituted by the prelates sent under his command, cannot deviate from such Liturgies and ordinances and maintain a discipline contrary thereto, and a man of one persuasion being not authorized to preach and admonish in the church of another following a different persuasion without the permission of the respective Patriarachs, we cannot permit the same to be done against us, and our churches being built by the aid of the pre-lates sent under the order of the Patriarch and on the wishes of the people of each parish and ornamented by their money, and as the accounts of the annual income according to our churches under the head of voluntary contributions offerings etc, are as required by the rules furnished to our bishops, as is the custom in the churches of Antioch as well as in the churches of this and other countries following different persuasions we are without the power, and feel disinclined, to follow and cause to be followed a different procedure from the above.
That the Honourable Colonel Macaulay having taken a loan of 3000 star pagodas from (Valia) great Mar Dionysius who died in 983, gave him a bond for the same. The interest on the amount having fallen in arrears, Mar Dionysius Metropolitan who died in 992 made a representation to Col. Munro and received the interest with which he (Dionysius) built the Seminary at Kottayam. Having also collected at the Seminary the money brought by the prelates that had come here from Antioch and the property left by the late Bishops of the Pakalomattom family, Mar Dionysius laid out a portion of this together with the donation made by HIS HIGHNESS THE MAHARAJA on behalf of the Syrian Christian Youths, on Kanom and therewith met the expense of their education. The Reverend the missionaries who have come down to Kottayam, in their profuse benevolence taught the youth at the Seminary, English and other languages, protected our children like loving fathers, caused books to be printed for the benefit of all classes, rendered all necessary help in maintaining the prevailing discipline of the Syrian Church caused the annual interest due, to be drawn on the receipt of the Metropolitan, had superintendence over the affairs of the Seminary and caused ordination to be made agreeable to the request of the people and the power of the prelates. While affairs were being thus conducted the Missionaries took to managing the Seminary without consulting the Metropolitan, themselves expended the interest money drawn annually on the receipt of the Metropolitan, dispersed the deacons instructed in the Seminary, conducted affairs in opposition to the discipline of the church and created dissensions amongst us, all of which have occasioned much sorrow and vexation. For this reason we do (would) not follow any faith or teaching other than the Orthodox faith of the Jacobite Syrian Christians, to the end, that we may obtain salvation through the prayers of ever happy, holy, and ever-blessed Mother of God, the redresser of all complaints and through the prayers of all Saints. Witness, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
One group of believers
and priests who believed in the reformation principles joined with the C.M.S
and started the CMS church. Those who came from the Syrian Christian Church
retained their identity even within the new church. Another group of believers
under the leadership of Palakunnathu Abraham Malpan (1796-1845) decided to stay
Here is how the early CMS mission understood the history of Syrian Christians till their arrival.
SOUTH INDIA AND
HISTORICAL SKETCHES, OBITUARY NOTICES, AND APPENDIX.
XVI.—THE SYRIAN CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
By the Rev.. R. H. maddox.
the Syrian Christian Chnrch of Malabar has an interest all its own in the annals of Church History. In the darkest ages and in the most distant and obscure regions God has always had His own people, His appointed witnesses for His truth.
Side by side with this
ancient Christian Church in Malabar, there exists a considerable colony of Jews who, it is
supposed, made their way to
It is difficult to account
with certainty for the origin of the
We have authentic records
to show that as early as the second century
there were Christians in
In the sixth century
Cosmas, an Alexandrian merchant, called from his travels Indicopleustes, visited
Towards the close of the
eighth century, the Church in Malabar was greatly strengthened by the arrival of a large
party, led by a wealthy merchant named
Thomas Cana from
may be well, before proceeding to this period of the history,to say a few words on the government? and
distinctive views and
tenets of the
The Syrian Chnrch of Malabar is an Episcopal Chnrch. Its first bishop or bishops were consecrated, according to tradition, by the Apostle who founded the church.
have seen that at the time of the Nicene Council (325), and in the days of Cosmas in the sixth
The Archbishop of Selencia, whether
in connection with
When the Metropolitan of Persia acknowledged the authority of
these Nestorian Patriarchs, the Christians of India, being subject to his
authority, were, as a matter of course, reckoned among the Nestorian Churches,
acknowledging the Bishop of Babylon as their Patriarch. Continuing to receive
their bishops from
" It preserved much primitive simplicity both of doctrine and ritual, but was heterodox upon the subject of our Lord's Incarnation, and moreover had derived from the heathen and unbelievers around some other corruptions of doctrine. A remnant there was in it, no doubt, of earnest, pure, God-loving and Godfearing men; but there were many abuses and much spiritual sloth......Their public services being conducted in the unknown tongue of Syria, and by priests who were, for the most part, examples of coldness and inactivity, were unable to inspire the people with that fervour of religious feeling, which is the mark of a living Church. A stirring and quickening of the dry bones was greatly needed. Perhaps the troubles which shortly came upon them were permitted for a discipline."
The remainder of this sketch is compiled almost exclusively, very frequently in the actual words of the writer, from a paper prepared on this subject by the Rev. David Fenn, shortly before his death, for the Indian Christian Intelligencer, December 1877.
When the Portuguese first reached
It was just one hundred years later that the Roman Catholic
hierarchy, acting under directions from the Pope, and calling in the aid of the
Portuguese military power, succeeded in forcibly subjugating the Syrian Church
to the domination of Rome, Cardinal Menezes, Archbishop of Goa, was the great
mover in this aggression. He was a man of marvellous energy and determination.
For fifty years previous to his arrival, the Jesuits and other Romanists had
been labouring to effect the voluntary submission of the Syrian Christians to
the Pope, but without success. Menezes at first in like manner tried persuasive
measures, but he found them too wedded to their connection with the Eastern
Church to yield to the wishes of one so powerful .even as they knew him to be.
Having obtained the help of the Hindu Rajah of
'In 1661 the Dutch took Quilon and in 1663
The English succeeded the Dutch in 1 795. During the 130 years
that the Dutch occupied the country little or no interest seems to have been
shown by them in the well-being of the
The Christian Researches, published soon after this visit,
excited the liveliest interest among Christians in
Messrs. Bailey, Baker, Fenn and Norton were the first
missionaries. The object alike of the Resident, the Society, and the
missionaries, was to aid the
(1) translation of the Bible into Malayalam ;
(2) the education of young men for the ministry of the Church;
(3) the establishment and maintenance of schools in connection with the different Syrian Churches, scattered over the country.
For twenty years this
connection with the
This rupture did not alienate the minds of the people generally
from the Missionaries and their work. The indirect influence, which the
The present condition of the
This reform party was strongly opposed by a considerable portion
One of the last acts of the Patriarch before leaving Travancore was to consecrate six additional Metrans among whom he parcelled out the whole Church into Dioceses, leaving each to fight or win his way into possession as best he could. The latest phase of matters is that these six Metrans have united with Mar Dionysius in an attempt to depose Mar Thomas Athanasius, the nephew and successor of the late Metropolitan Mar Athanasius, from his position, and obtain through the Civil Courts the property which he now holds on behalf of the Syrian Church, viz.t the moiety of land and money forming the original endowment of the Syrian College, which came to them by the distribution of property on the withdrawal of the Church Missionary Society, in 1837.
The policy of the Church Missionary Society in the country for a
considerable period has been to discourage secession from the
In the meantime the Church Missionary Society is persevering in
its original purpose, and it is fervently hoped that, as the Church of England
in the country becomes stronger and more thoroughly developed, its influence
may be owned and blessed by God to the revival and enlightenment of our
After leaving the Syrian Christian Collaboration, the CMS mission turned themselves to Missions to the heathen of Travancore. The Missionaries involved were Benjamin Bailey (1816-50), Henry Baker, son (1917-66) and Joseph Fenn (1817-26), Joseph Peet (1833-65), John Hawksworth (1840-63), and Henry Baker, jun. (1843-78), all of whom died at their posts. Peet founded the station at Mavelikara, Hawksworth that at Tiruwella, and H, Baker, jun, the interesting Mission to the Hill Arrians.
CMS missionaries of Travancore
Rev.F.Bower of Tiruwella; S.Baker,Superintendent of the cottayam Press;
Rev. C.E.R.Romilly (behind); Mrs. Neve; Mrs.Painter;
, Cottayam College
Rev.J Thompson; Mrs.Thompson
Sitting on Chair
Mrs. Bower; Mrs. H Baker; Mrs. Caley, Arch Deacon Caley;
Rev. A.F.Painter of Hill Arrian Mission,
Rev. W.J.Richards, .
Mrs T Baker (widow of late Rev. H.Baker founder of the Hill Arrian Mission)
As a result of these missions which was also joined by a
considerable number of Syrian Christians of the reform group the
The church was rebuilt and opened for divine worship on the 27th of September 1842 under Rev. J. Peet. An active mission among the Pulayas and the Pariahs (the untouchables) brought in several churches within the CMS. According to the Gleaner report of the 1885 there were two congregations of converted slaves, amounting to eighty-two souls.
Early Priests of the
Mother's Meetting and Young Mens Christian Association, Tranvancore
At the top: Rev. John and Mrs Cain of Dummagudem.
In the center is a group of CMS and CEZMS missionaries. Six standing behing from left are Mrvs. M.N.S Atkinson, J.B. Panes, H.J.Tanner, C. W.A. Clarke, E.T. Pegg and J.Stone.
Second row from left Rev. F.N. Alexander, Mrs. J.Stone and Mrs.Swan Hurrell.
In front Mrs Atkinson, Mrs. J.P.Brandon and Miss Bassoe of Zenana Mission
Left: Rev I.V.Razu of Dummagudem Right: Rev. G. Krishnayya (ordained 1871)
Bottom: Rev. & Mrs. Vores, from
(from The Church Missionary Gleaner)
Rev. Alexander and Evangelists Mrs. Alexander and women of the Bible 1888
(from The Church Missionary Gleaner)
(from The Church Missionary Gleaner)
Rev. Kaipuraidam Mathai Mathai the first priest
was the uncle of of my father's sister's husband. Kaipuraidam family was one of the first CMS members in Mallapally from the Syrian Christians who joined them. His wife was the daughter of Archdeacon Oommen Mammen