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Chaldean Syrian Church is the name used for the Assyrian Church of the East in India. It is one of several groups of Saint Thomas Christians tracing their origins to St. Thomas the Apostle who, according to tradition, came to India in AD 52.


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Thomas the Apostle is credited by tradition for founding the Indian Church in 52 A.D.[1] This Nasrani faith had many similarities to Judaism, and, owing to the heritage of the Nasrani people, developed contacts with the non-Chalcedonian religious authorities of Edessa, Mesopotamia.

The local church maintained its autonomous character under its local leader. When the Portuguese established themselves in India in the 16th Century, they found the Church in Kerala as an administratively independent community. Following the arrival of Vasco de Gama in 1498, the Portuguese came to South India and established their political power there. They brought missionaries to carry out evangelistic work in order to establish churches in communion with Rome under the Portuguese patronage. These missionaries were eager to bring the Indian Church under the Pope's control. They succeeded in their efforts in 1599 with the `Synod of Diamper'.The representatives of various parishes who attended the assembly were forced by Portuguese authorities to accept the Papal authority.

Following the synod, the Indian Church was governed by Portuguese prelates. They were generally unwilling to respect the integrity of the local church. This resulted in disaffection which led to a general revolt in 1653 known as "The Coonan Cross Oath". This demanded administrative autonomy for the local church. Since it had no bishop, it faced serious difficulties.

It appealed to several eastern Christian churches for help. The Antiochene Syrian Patriarch responded and sent metropolitan Mar Gregorios of Jerusalem to India in 1665. He confirmed Marthoma I as the bishop and worked together with him to organize the Church.

Following the Portuguese colonization of several coastal regions of India, Christians in Malabar were allied with the Roman Catholic Church. Beginning in the 17th century, ecclesiastically conservative groups began to seek leadership from the Syrian Orthodox Church.

The modern history of the Church of the East in India dates to the decades after 1814 when leading Christians in Thrissur, failing in their own attempt to gain a bishop from the Syrian Orthodox Church, began to seek to have a bishop ordained by the Catholicos Patriarch of the Church of the East in Qochanis. The priest Anthony Thondonatta was consecrated bishop as Mar Abdisho in 1862 in Qochanis, though he did not begin functioning as Metropolitan in India until 1882. Their publishing arm, Mar Narsai Press, prints several liturgcal books used throughout the Assyrian (often considered "Nestorian") Church of the East. The present Metropolitan, Mar Aprem Mooken (ordained in 1968), is headquartered in Trichur and is a noted author. Marth Mariyam Cathedral 10°31′6″N 76°13′2″E / 10.51833°N 76.21722°E / 10.51833; 76.21722 is the seat of the Metropolitan.

Shared history with other Saint Thomas Christians

See also


  1. History of Christianity. Vol.1. By Kenneth Scott Latourette, page 80

External links


  • Mar Aprem Mooken, The Chaldean Syrian Church in India, (Trichur: Mar Narsai Press, 1977).
  • Mar Aprem Mooken, Church of the East, (St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia, Trichur: 1973).

frp:Égllése malabara ortodoxe ml:കല്‍ദായ സുറിയാനി സഭ sl:Kaldejska Sirska Cerkev