Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy St. Thomas' Day

Courtesy of my mother I'd like to give a quick rundown of the history of Christianity in that little SW corner of India called Kerala.

In brief, the St. Thomas Christians remained pretty much as one group until 1599 (Diampur Synod), when Portugese Bishop did a hostile takeover of Syrian Christians. But Portugese power waned and in 1653, some of the new Christians could not take the loss of traditional worship. They revolted and had a pledge to go back to Orthodox worship and tradition.Thus the Syrian Orthodox Church was formed. My family part of the church remained in Roman Catholicism and revived little bit of old tradition. They are Syro-Malabar church. Portugese missionaries also converted lot of Hindus from 1498 onwards and this group is called Latin Catholics.

The Syrian Orthodox church split into several factions. One faction under the Bishop Mar Evanios re-joined Catholic church in 1930. Achacha' family and our New Jersey church belongs to this group. This is called Malankara Syrian Catholic Church

So remember Roman Catholic Church in Kerala has three groups or independent 'rites' or form of worship. The The Latin rite, Syro-Malabar rite and Malankara Syrian catholic rite. I should say four, if I include the Kananya Church.

The Syrian Orthodox Church that remained away from the catholic church has three other famous factions: One is called the Othodox Church to which belongs Shaji Achacha's family. They have large congregations in the US and Achacha's friend Thankanchan uncle's family also belongs to this one.

Now there are 17 million Catholics in India, 7 million are Syrian Christians, about 500,000 are Malankara Syrian Catholic.

I was for years trying to figure out where these different factions arise and how they are connected. Now it is all easy to find out from Wikipedia.

And that's my mother (Thresia Thomas)!

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