History of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is a Major Archiepiscopal Church in full communion with the Apostolic See of Rome. The Church is headed by the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Mar George Cardinal Alencherry. It is one of the 23 sui iuris (autonomous) Eastern Catholic Churches in the Catholic communion. It is the second largest Eastern Catholic Church, the largest being the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The Syro-Malabar Church follows the East-Syrian liturgy which dates back to 3rd century.
Known for its deep-rooted spirituality and high rate of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, the Syro-Malabar Church is perhaps the most vibrant Catholic Church in the world, with over four million believers and a rich and fascinating history.
Syro-Malabar Catholics, also called “St. Thomas Christians”, trace their origins and faith to the missionary efforts of St. Thomas the Apostle, who landed at Kodungallur in Kerala, India, in 52 AD. St. Thomas was martyred at Mylapur, Chennai, India, in 72 AD, after preaching and establishing Christian communities in different parts of India.
Until the late 16th century, Bishops were appointed and sent by the Patriarch of the East Syrian Church, who governed the St. Thomas Christians. However, the arrival of the Portuguese in India marked a new era in the life of the Church. Hierarchically they were brought under the rule of the Latin Bishops after the Synod of Diamper.
In 1653 in the infamous ‘Coonan Cross Oath’ at Mattancherry, many St. Thomas Christians vowed to disobey the Latin hierarchy. Thus began a rift among St. Thomas Christians, who were one Church until that time. Eventually, some returned to the jurisdiction of the Latin rule to be in communion with the Pope, while others stood firm in their stand of opposition to the Portuguese.
Those who continued under the Latin rule formed the community that became the Syro-Malabar Church. Those who remained opposing the Portuguese encountered the Jacobite Patriarch and eventually became Jacobites, of which a fraction reunited with the Catholic Communion in 1930;they are now known as the Syro-Malankara Church.
Finally, after 230 years of Latin governance, the Syro-Malabar Church hierarchy was established in India, in 1923.
We, the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church under the Diocese of Galway Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, take every step to live Our Christian vocation handed over to us through St. Thomas, the Apostle of Jesus Christ,with its own distinct characteristics expressed in worship, spirituality, theology and disciplinary laws, to unite all the Syro-Malabar faithful in Ireland under the hierarchical order of the Syro-Malabar Church, to build our own Indian-Irish inclusive Community and handover the same faith and tradition to our Children.