Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church

Founder St. Thomas the Apostle
Independence Apostolic Era
Recognition Oriental Orthodox
Primate His Holiness Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Didymos I
Headquarters Kottayam, Kerala
Territory India
Website Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

Coordinates: 8°14′30″N 77°18′06″E / 8.2417741°N 77.3015428°E / 8.2417741; 77.3015428


The historic Thiruvithamcodu Church was built by St. Thomas, the Apostle of India in 63 AD in the name of the Holy Mother St. Mary. This is believed to be one of the oldest church structures in the world.

Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Mar Thoma Didymos I proclaimed the church as an international St. Thomas pilgrim centre on December 16, 2007 The church, known among local people as Thomayar kovil is believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Once upon a time this place of worship was the epicentre of a community of Malankara Christians, or St. Thomas Christians. Over a period of time, there was a large-scale migration of the community to central Travancore. The church remains with the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.

Malankara Sabha

That the place of worship has its origins in antiquity is also attested by its stone walls and door frames and intricately carved wood work. The church’s altar, the baptism basin and incense burner are believed to be the legacies of the Portuguese.

St.Thomas was one of the disciples of Jesus. He is also known as Didymus, which means the Twin. Thomas means Twin in Aramaic and Didymus means Twin in Greek. He is generally known as the Doubting Thomas since he refused to believe the resurrection unless he has verified it himself. His acts are not found in the Acts of the Apostles.

But an apocryphal book written around 200 AD called "Acts of Thomas", describes it with embellishments and exaggerations. But archeology and Indian traditions substantiate the basic historic events in this book.

A merchant Ambassador Habbanes (This is probably a Greek pronouncement of the name Appana) bought him. If so he was probably from the Kingdom of Pandhya Empire) being sold to him by Jesus the carpenter. He was the ambassador for King Gondaphores the Indo-Parthian Kingdom of Indus Valley Area (Sind, Pakistan, Baluchistan and Afghanisthan). He attended the banquet at the marriage ceremony of the daughter of Cheraman Perumal (the King of the Chera Kingdom) where he came across a Jewish girl in the King's court. During the period of seven days of his stay there, several Jewish people were converted to Christianity. It is said that Thomas ordained one Prince Peter to be the head of the church of the Jews and left for Takshasila, (The English version of the name is Taxila which was a University City in the Indus Valley) the capital of Hondaphorus Kingdom. He established a church in that region before he traveled to other areas of India. These churches were annihilated during the invasion of Kushan and Moghal dynasty.

He returned to Kerala where he established seven and half churches with 75 Brahmin families as teachers and over 3000 converts from Kshatriyas, Nairs and Chettiars. These new converts were called St: Thomas Christians. This church is one of the most ancient churches in Christendom. The seven churches are at Malankara, Palayur, Paravoor, Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Chayal and Kollam.

When the Christians in east coast suffered persecution St. Thomas took 64 families with him across the ghats over Aruvamozhi Pass into Venad. These were mostly converts from Chettiars of Nagercoil. The King of Thiruvithamcode offered them refuge. The tradition says that when the King offered them sacred ash (Vibhuthi) they refused and so these Christians came to be known as Vibhuthi Dharia Chettkal

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