Malabar Independent Syrian Church

Malabar Independent Syrian church
Classification Eastern Church, following West Syriac (Oriental Orthodoxy) faith and worship
Region Kerala

Abraham Mor Koorilose

Present Head: Hasyo Mar Baselios Cyril 1 Metropolitan
Origin 1772
Separated from Malankara Syrian Church
Congregations 16
Members 35,000
Hospitals 1
Primary schools 3
Secondary schools 1
Other name(s) Thozhyur Sabha
Anjoor Church

The Malabar Independent Syrian Church, also known as the Thozhiyur Sabha (Church), is a Christian church centred in Kerala, India. It is one of the churches of the Saint Thomas Christian community, which traces its origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.

Considered part of the Syriac Orthodox Group of churches in India, the church split from the main body of India's Malankara Church in 1772. The church obtained its current name after a court verdict in 1862; although the church is independent under the Malankara umbrella, the church faith and traditions are strictly Oriental Orthodox, adhering to the West Syrian Rite and consistently using western Syriac and Malayalam during the Holy Qurbana (Qurbono Qadisho).

Today the church remains small, with about 35,000 members, and maintains good relations with the other Malankara churches. The members of the Church are known as Nazaranis or Suriyani Nazarani.

Part of a series on
Saint Thomas Christians
Saint Thomas · Thomas of Cana · Mar Sabor and Mar Proth · Tharisapalli plates · Synod of Diamper · Coonan Cross Oath
Ancient crosses · Churches · Shrines · Liturgical language · Church music
Prominent persons
Abraham Malpan · Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar · Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban · Kuriakose Elias Chavara · Mar Thoma I · Saint Alphonsa · Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi · Kariattil Mar Ousep · Geevarghese Mar Dionysius of Vattasseril · Gheevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala · Ignatius Elias III · Geevarghese Mar Ivanios · Saint Alphonsa · Yeldho Mar Baselios · Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly · Euphrasia Eluvathingal · Thoma of Villarvattom · Gregorios Abdal Jaleel

Margamkali · Parichamuttukali · Cuisine · Suriyani Malayalam


Saint Thomas Christian's - Divisions- History

The Saint Thomas Christians trace their origins to Thomas the Apostle, who according to tradition proselytized in India in the 1st century. By the 7th century they were part of the Church of the East, centred in Persia.[1] The entire community remained united until the 17th century, when disputes with the Portuguese padroado in India led to the Coonan Cross Oath of 1653 and the division of the Saint Thomas Christians into Latin Catholic and Malankara Church[2][3] The independent branch, known as the Malankara Church, forged a relationship with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.[4]

However, relations between the Syriac Orthodox hierarchy and the native clergy were sometimes strained. In 1772 Bishop Mar Gregorios, a representative of the Syriac Orthodox hierarchy from the Middle East, had grown dissatisfied with how the Metropolitan Mar Dionysius I had treated him. Against Dionysius' wishes, Gregorios consecrated as bishop a leading dissenter, the monk Kattumangatt Kurien, in a secret but canonically legitimate ceremony. The new bishop took the name Mar Cyril (Koorilos), and he was designated Gregorios' sole heir.[5]

Cyril claimed authority over the parishes of Cochin, and initially received the support of the Raja of Cochin. However, Dionysus saw him as a threat to his power, and in 1774 he appealed to the Raja and to the British authorities in India to suppress the rival bishop.[5][6] Cyril left for Thozhiyur, outside their jurisdiction, and established what would become an independent church.[7] This was the first of several churches to split off from the Malankara Church.[6]

Cyril's church was always small, but maintained stability by attracting devoted priests and emphasizing regularity in the ecclesiastical order. In 1794 Cyril consecrated his brother Geevarghese as bishop; Geevarghese succeeded Cyril as Mar Cyril II in 1802, and the succession has proceeded unbroken since.[5] As a result of an 1862 court case, the Madras High Court confirmed the Thozhiyur church was independent Malankara church, and it has subsequently been known as the Malabar Independent Syrian Church.[7]

Ecumenical relations

The Malabar Independent Syrian Church maintains good relations with the other Malankara churches especially its relationship with Marthoma Syrian church. Despite its small size, it has had a significant impact on the history of the Saint Thomas Christian community. On several occasions Thoziyur bishops have stepped in to consecrate bishops for the other churches when the episcopal succession, and therefore the churches themselves, were in danger.[5] Mar Philoxenos II Kidangan (1811–1829) of the Thozhiyur Church consecrated three successive bishops in the Malankara Church: Mar Dionysius II on 22 March 1816, Mar Dionysius III on 19 October 1817, and Mar Dionysius IV on 27 August 1825.[8]

Malabar Independent Syrian Church is a member of the Christian Conference of Asia, the Council of Churches in India, and the Kerala Council of Churches. Other ecumenical links have been developed, not least with the Anglican and Lutheran Churches. This has been facilitated through a support group based in England, where the Church is a registered charitable trust.


The Metropolitans of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church:

After constitutional change


Following is the list of Metropolitans of the Malabar Independent Syrian church.[9][10]

Mor Koorilos Abraham (Kattumangatt Kurien)– (1772–1802).

Cyril was the first Metropolitan of the church. As a boy he impressed the visiting Bishop Mar Ivanios of Jerusalem by correcting a deacon's liturgical mistake at Mulanthuruthy Church. Ivanios later ordained both Kurien and his brother Geevarghese as deacons, then priests, before returning to Jerusalem in 1751.[11][12] He later became a monk under Mar Baselios and Mar Gregorios, and was a leader in the local opposition to Malankara Metropolitan Mar Dionysius I. He was consecrated as Bishop by Gregorios, fomenting the tensions with Dionysius that ultimately resulted in the formation of the independent Thozhyur church. He died on 10 July 1802.[5]

Mar Cyril II (Kattumangatt Geevarghese) – (1802–1807).

Known as the Younger Bava, Geevarghese was the younger brother of Mar Cyril I. He was ordained as a deacon and then priest along with his brother by Mar Ivanios. Cyril I consecrated him as bishop and named him his successor in 1794, and he succeeded his brother as Mar Cyril II in 1802.[5] He consecrated Skaria Mar Philexenos and Joseph Mar Ivanios as suffragans. Geevarghese Mar Koorilose died on 29 May 1809, and was laid to rest at Vettical Dayara, Mulanthuruthi.

Skaria Mar Philexenos (Cheeran) – (1807–1811)

He was consecrated by Geevarghese Mar Koorilose.

Geevarghese Mar Philexenos II (Kidangan) (1811–1829)

He was consecrated by Skaria Mar Philexenos. During his period Mar Thoma IX was the Metropolitan of the Malankara Church, but because he was not accepted by the people and clergy, the Reverend Ittoop Kathanar from Kunnamkulam was selected to succeed him. However, there was no bishop to consecrate him, so members of the Malankara Church invited Mar Philexenos from Thozhyoor for the consecration. Even though his ancestors were driven out of the Malankara Church, without a grudge he accepted the invitation. The Reverend Ittoop Kathanar was consecrated on 22 March 1816, and was given the episcopal title Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius. However, in November that same year, Joseph Mar Dionysius died. Because there were no other metropolitans in Malankara at that time, Mar Philoxenos was accepted as Malankara Metropolitan and the concerned governments issued Royal Proclamation. This proclamation was lifelong. On 19 October 1817, he consecrated Punnathara Mar Dionysious and returned to Thozhyoor, but Punnathara Mar Dionysious died on 17 May 1825. Mar Philoxenos was again invited and he consecrated Cheppad Mar Dionysios for the Malankara Church. Mar Philoxenos died on 7 February 1829.

Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (Kuthoorey) (1829–1856).

Mar Philexenos did not appoint any successors. So Thozhyoor church invited Cheppad Mar Dionysios of the Malankara church and it was he who consecrated Geevarghese Mar Koorilose.

Joseph Mar Koorilose (Alathoorey) (1856–1888).

Geevarghese Mar Koorilose died without appointing a successor. So Mathews Mar Athanasius, metropolitan of the Malankara Church consecrated the Reverend Joseph Kathanar and gave him the episcopal title Joseph Mar Koorilose. At that time Euyakim Mar Koorilos, a bishop sent by the Patriarch of Antioch, was also in Kerala. In 1857, he filed a civil case stating that he was the Malankara Metropolitan and he had the rights to the Thozhyoor Church and its properties. In 1862, the Madras High Court issued the final verdict stating that the Church was an Independent Syrian Church in Malabar and that Euyakim Mar Koorilos had no claim on the Church or its properties. Because of this case Thozhyoor Church was given the name Malabar Independent Syrian Church.

Joseph Mar Athanasius. (Maliyakal) (1888–1898)

Joseph Mar Koorilose consecrated his successor, Joseph Mar Athanasius. At this time, the Malankara church was split into two, the Jacobites and the Metran faction. Thomas Mar Athanasius, appointed by Mathews Mar Athanasius, died in August 1893 without appointing a successor. So Joseph Mar Athanasius consecrated Titus I as metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church.

Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (Karumamkuzhi Pulikkottil) (1898–1935)

He was consecrated by Joseph Mar Athanasios. He consecrated Poulose Mar Athanasius, assisted by Thomas Mar Athanasius of the Mar Thoma Church as suffragan. Two schools were opened during his time. He also sent deacons to study at the Cambridge National Institute and at the Serampore College. He was there for the consecrations of three Metropolitans of the Mar Thoma Church. As a priest he attended the consecration of Titus I Mar Thoma and as metropolitan, the consecrations of Titus II and Abraham Mar Thoma.

Kuriakose Mar Koorilose (Kuthoorey) (1935–1947)

He was consecrated by Titus II Mar Thoma, assisted by Abraham Mar Thoma of the Mar Thoma Church.

Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (Cheeran) (1948–1967)

He was consecrated by Dr.Juhanon Mar Thoma assisted by Mathews Mar Athanasius of the Mar Thoma Church.

Paulose Mar Philexenos (Ayankulangara) (1967–1977)

He was consecrated by Dr.Juhanon Mar Thoma of the Mar Thoma Church. While Metropolitan, he joined the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, in union with the Pope.

Mathews Mar Koorilose (Kuthoorey) (1978–1986)

When the previous Metropolitan Paulose Mar Philexenos, joined the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, MISC was left without a hierarchy. Mathews Mar Koorilos was consecrated by Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma, of the Mar Thoma Church to replace him.

Joseph Mar Koorilose (Alathoorey) (27 August 1986)

He was consecrated by Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma, of the Mar Thoma Church. On 28 May 2001, the sabha council unanimously decided to consecrate the Metropolitan Joseph Mar Koorilose as the "Valiya Methrapolitha" and the constitution of Malabar Independent Syrian Church was modified accordingly. Metropolitan Joseph Mar Koorilos was the Valiya Methrapolitha of Malabar Independent Syrian Church until his demise on September 7, 2014.

HG Aboon Mor Baselius Cyril.

The Sabha Mandalam (church synod) of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church held on 10 December 2000 unanimously elected Rev. Fr. K. C. Sunny as the metropolitan-elect. On 3 March 2001 he was consecrated as ramban. The Very Reverend Sunny Ramban was consecrated bishop on 10 March 2001 and named Cyril Mar Baselius. On 28 May 2001 he was installed as Metropolitan Mar Baselius. .[13]



  1. St. George's Cathedral, Thozhiyur, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.
  2. St. George's Church, Perambur, Cooks Rd., Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
  3. St. Thomas' Church, Kunnamkulam, Guravayur Rd., Thrissur Dt.
  4. St. George's Church, Karikkad, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.
  5. Mar Koorilose Church, Korattikara, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.
  6. St. Adai's Church, Porkulam, Pazhanji, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.
  7. St. Mary's Church, Pazhanji, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.
  8. St. George Church, Kallumpuram, Kadavallur-Post, Thrissur Dt., Kerala
  9. St. Augin's Church, Chalissery, Palakkad Dt., Kerala
  10. St. Mary's church, Perummannoor, Palakkad Dt., Kerala
  11. St. George's Church, Peringod, Palakkad Dt., Kerala
  12. Mar Koorilose Bava Church, Ernakulam, Kerala.
  13. St. George's Church, Coimbatore Tamil Nadu.


  1. St. George's Chapel, Akathiyur, Kerala.
  2. Mar Bahanan Chapel, Anjoor Bazar, Kerala.
  3. Sleeba (Cross Memorial) Chapel, Thozhiyur, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.
  4. Mar Koorilose bava Chapel Ottapilave (Thrissur) Dt., Kerala
  5. St George Chapel Thiruthikkad (Thrissur) Dt.,
  6. St Koorilose Chapel, Bangalore, Karnataka.


  1. Syrian Christian U.P.S., Chalissery, Palakkad Dt., Kerala.
  2. St. George's H.S.S., Thozhiyur, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.
  3. Mar Koorilose Memorial U.P.S., Porkulam, Pazhanji, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.
  4. C.M.U.P. School, Thozhyoor, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.



See also


  1. Baum, p. 53.
  2. Neill, p. 214.
  3. Neill, p. 319.
  4. "Christians of Saint Thomas". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Neill, p. 70.
  6. 1 2 Vadakkekara, p. 92.
  7. 1 2 Burgess, p. 175.
  8. Rev. K. C. Varghese Kassessa. (1972). History of Malabar Independent Syrian Church. (Malayam). Page 62.
  9. Kochumon, M.P., Parisuddha Kattumangatte Bavamar. Page 58,59.
  10. Varghese Kassessa, K.C. A short history of Malabar Independent Syrian church.(page 118)
  11. Varughese, Rev. K. C., History of the Malankar Independednt Suryani Church. Page 26.
  12. Mathew, N. M. History of the Marthoma Church, Volume 1. Page 196
  13. Kerala Govt: Gazette Part 5th, private advertisement, dated 19 February 2002


In Malayalam

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