St. Mary's Cathedral, Angamaly
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St. Mary's Cathedral, Angamaly

Mural of Last Judgement above the northern entrance
Mural depicting hell above the southern entrance
Angamaly Church
Altar room, Angamaly Syrian Church

St Mary's Jacobite Syrian Church, Angamaly (now known as St. Mary's Soonoro Cathedral) is believed to be built in AD 409 and is the first church built in Angamaly. It is an ancient church and one of the most prominent churches in Kerala. It was the seat of the Archdeacon, the local head of the Malankara Church and hence held an important position in Malankara for many centuries.[1]


After the Apostle St. Thomas arrived India[] in AD 52 and sowed the seeds of the Gospel, about 400 Syrian families immigrated in AD 345 under the leadership of the merchant Knayi Thoma to a town named Mahathevar patnam, near Muziris the famous port of Kodungalloor. This was the first known centre of Christians in India. Jews who had engaged in trade with the coast of Malabar had inhabited the city much earlier and had rights to land and other privileges there. Kodungalloor subsequently became less hospitable to Christians who took refuge in Angamaly. The local chieftain of "Mangattu", also referred to as "Mangattachan", graciously welcomed Christians into the area and granted them many privileges including the right to establish a church, a market and a town in 'Ankamalee' (later Angamaly). The land for the Church was granted to the Syrian Christians next to his palace premises as a noble gesture. Thus the church was built with wood and thatched roofing in a location adjacent to the palace of the chieftain and in closer proximity to the palace. The archaeological department of Kerala interpreted the ancient inscription on a stone in the altar room of this church as the consent of the local chieftain for the establishment of the Syrian church.

For many centuries this church and the Akaparambu Church (Mar Sabor and Mar Afroth) were a united parish and was administered by one council as is evident in the record of a general body meeting of 16-8-1069 (Malayalam Era). Both church used the same cemetery of this church. A new cemetery was formed at Akaparambu Church in 1956 by Mor Gregorios Vayaliparambil and the parishes were separated into two. This church is adorned by beautiful mural paintings, chandeliers and wooden carvings.

According to tradition, Mar Yoohanon who represented the Malankara Church at the Holy Synod of Ephesus in AD 431 stayed at Marth Maryam Valiyapally Kothamangalam and had visited Ankamaly church.[2]


Archdeacons of Pakalomattom family who administered from Ankamaly were Geevargese Kathanar (George of Christ ), Yakob Kathanar, Alexander Kathanar, and Geevargese Kathanar (the second). Geevargese the Second was buried in this Church.

Synod of Diamper

The whole parish defied the decrees of the Synod of Diamper in 1599 and firmly stood with the Archdeacon in resisting the Portuguese Padroado. The Catholic historian Fr. Bernard records that the Syrian Christians in Mangad, Kochi, Purakad, and Thekkumkur who were loyal to the Ankamaly Syrian church were threatened by local kings and Petty chieftains to attend the Synod of Diamper in 1599, as commanded by the Portuguese.[3] The Raja of Cochin decreed that all assets of Syrian churches which abstain from the Synod of Diamper on 20 June 1599 will be confiscated.[4] The Angamaly Church defied the command and boycotted the Synod unanimously; All the eighteen priests of the church abstained from the Synod.[5]

It states that the militant Portuguese bishop through threats and offers of military support to the local king and chieftains managed to create a schism in the Church and established a Roman Catholic presence in Malankara. Twenty-four of the 69 churches, including the St. George Church located next to the St Marys Church at Ankamaly, came under Latin Catholic influence. The forty-five churches that remained with Archdeacon, continued to be administered by him from Angamaly.

Coonan Cross Oath

After the Coonan Cross Oath of 1653, a delegate of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Gregorios Abdal Jaleel a Bishop of Jerusalem, arrived in Malankara. In 1665 he regularized the consecration of Mar Thoma I as the first Metropolitan Bishop of Malankara. At first during his reign Mar Thoma I was assisted by Ankamaly Vengoor Gevarghese Kathanar, Kadavil Chandy Kathanar, Palliveetil Chandy Kathanar, and Anjimootil Itty Thoman Kathanar, who lead the Coonan Cross Oath in 1653. The seat of Mar Thoma I was at Angamaly. He was buried in this church in 1670.

Estrangelo Bible

In 1808 an ancient Bible written during the headship of Dionysius the Great at the Angamaly church was presented to the Anglican missionary Rev. Claudius Buchanan; This Bible is now preserved in the archives of the Cambridge University Library. This Syriac Bible might have been brought to India by Fathers from the Holy See of Antioch as in its appendix you can see intercessory prayers to St. Mary and Mar Severios. This Estrangelo Bible written in East Syriac might have been from the Persian Catholicate of the Syrian Orthodox Church.[6][7]

List of parishes originated from Angamaly Church

Twenty-eight parishes listed below have originated from the Ankamaly church.

  • Akaparambu
  • Aluva
  • Avanankode
  • Azhakam
  • Chakkaraparambu
  • Edakunnu
  • Karayamparambu
  • Keezhpariyaram
  • Kidagoor
  • Koratty
  • Ponnamparambu
  • Mambra
  • Manjapra
  • Mattur
  • Mekkad
  • Mukkanoor
  • Nayathodu
  • Nedumbassery
  • Neduvannur
  • Peechanikkadu
  • Pirarur
  • Poikkattussery
  • Poothamkutty
  • Thavalappara
  • Thottakam
  • Thiruvillamkunnu
  • Thuruthissery
  • Vappalassery


  1. ^ Kaniamparambil, Chor Episcopos V. Rev. Curian, "The Fame of Angamali Church and Holiness of Mor Kurilos" (Malayalam). Ambattu Mor Kurilos Centenary Souvenir (Ankamaly, India: St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Church), ( published 1991)
  2. ^ John Mason Neale, A history of the Holy Eastern Church : the Patriarchate of Antioch, (First published 1873. Republisher: Facsimile Publisher, 2015), p.6, ff.3..
  3. ^ Fr. Bernad, Marthoma Christeeya Purapad (Malayalam), pp. 16,19.
  4. ^ Philip, E.M. , The Indian Christians of St. Thomas , (Published 1908-Malayalam) p. 102
  5. ^ Original-Govaeo(Portuguese), Reported-Fr. Xavier Koodapuzha Thirusabha Charithram (Malayalam) p. 620.
  6. ^ Pukadiyil Itoop Writer, MALAYALATHULLA SURIYANI CHRISTIANKALUDE SABHA CHARITHRAM (Malayalam)( Changanassery, :1869; Mor Adai Study Center, 2004) p 151.
  7. ^ Pearson Hugh, M.A.; Memoirs of the life and writings of the Rev. Claudius Buchanan, D.D. Published 1817. Benjamin & Thomas Kite, Philadelphia p 320-321

External links

  • Bibu Mathew Vayaliparambil Pynadathu. "Morth Mariam Church, Ankamaly". Retrieved 2016.
  • Jacobite Syrian Christian Church on Facebook
  • Jacobite Syrian Christian Church
  • Online Community and News Site of Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church
  • News Site Of Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church
  • Indian Christianity
  • Malankara Syriac Orthodox Resources
  • Malankara Jacobite Syriac Christian Network

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