Coonan Cross Oath
Churches, Coonan Cross Oath, Demography, Division and Rite, Population Statistics - Sunday, September 13, 2009 7:19 - 33 Comments
Catalogue of ancient Nasrani Churches, their affiliations and population statistics in the background of division and attempts of Reconciliation- A review of Literature
The history of Christianity in Malabar has been well documented after the synod of Diamper. Much information giving light into the ancient period is available as copper plates, inscriptions on rocks, palm leaf documents, artefacts, and oral traditions. Many authors have tried to knit up the loose history from available documents and available oral traditions.
DIVISION OF ST THOMAS CHRISTIANS
Until the time of the synod of Diamper, there was no evidence available to suggest any divisions among the Syrian Christians. After the Synod of Diamper (AD 1599) – the Coonan Cross Oath ( AD 1653 )- prompted the division of the community and both parties claimed over different churches. After the Coonan Cross Oath, the whole Nasrani community was divided into two groups, one continued to be loyal to the Roman Catholic Church keeping the East Syriac liturgy and traditions, called the “old party” or “Pazhayacoor” and the other under the Archdeacon known as new party or “Puthencoor”. Both were using the same liturgy and traditions for some time, but later, the Puthencoor moved towards the Church of Antioch and adopted the West Syriac liturgy and traditions and thus made the name “Puthencoor” appropriate.
As the community was divided, the churches were also divided among them into two groups. There were a third group of churches which remained to be shared between these two communities.
At the time of the Coonan Cross Oath, vast majority of people and churches remained loyal to the Arch Deacon. There are different accounts. “Out of the assumed 200,000 population, only 400 remained loyal to the Portuguese”.1
Joseph Thekkedathu reports that “some of them speak of 200 laymen and 15-25 Cathanaars. Others say that there were about 1000 laymen and 15 Cathanaars. In any case, it is clear that they were but an insignificant minority” 2
After the Coonan Cross oath, the Arch deacon was consecrated as a Metropolitan by twelve Cathanaars at Alangadu on 22 May, 1653. The available historical evidences show that this revolt was against Arch Bishop Garcia and the Portuguese authorities and not against the Roman Church or Pope of Rome.This is evident from the available documents regarding the declarations on the occasion and a letter sent to the Portuguese captain at Cochin. 3
Angamali Padiyola in 1787 reads “upon this, our forefathers assembled at Muttancherry and took an oath that neither they themselves nor their descendants, should ever have anything to do with the Paulists.”4
A Church Mission Society report for 1818-19 states-“After this, all the Syrians assembled at Muttancherry, and thus resolved-These Portuguese having murdered Mar Ignatius, we will no longer join them. We renounce them, and do not want either love or their favour. The present Francis Bishop shall not be our Governor.We are not his children or followers. We will not again acknowledge Portuguese bishops”.5
The whole St Thomas Christians were in communion with the Pope of Rome through the Chaldean catholic church after the division in the Church of the East in 1552 and with the arrival of Mar Joseph Sulaqa and Mar Elias in 1555. Since the arrival of Portuguese in 1498, the St Thomas Christians were in friendship with them and they were allowed to preach and celebrate mass in the Nasrani churches.Even the Portuguese missionaries established a seminary to train the St Thomas Chrisitians at Kodungalloor in 1541. It has to be noted that two Cathanaars of the St Thomas Christians travelled to Portugal with Portuguese General Cabral and one of them- “Joseph the Indian” as described in the literature visited the Pope Alexander VI. Joseph the Indian was interviewed by some Venicians who published it European languages. 6
This Joseph The Indian was among the delegation to visit the East Syriac Patriarch Simon in AD 1490 who ordained both of them- Joseph and George- as Priests. 7
The East Syrian prelates at that time were also friendly with the Portuguese. This is evident from the letters of Mar Jabalaha, Mar Denha and Mar Yakob to the Patriarch of Babylon in 1504. Continue…
- G T Mackenzie, Christianity in Travancore, 1901, p27 [↩]
- Joseph Thekkedathu, The troubled days of Garcia, quoted in The History of Christianity in India p94 [↩]
- -Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, Rome ( Jesuite Archives) Vol 68(1) f 102 f 225 Garcia’s letter to Fr Hyacinth of St Vincent, Vol 68 (2) ff 451-2, Historical Archives of Goa Livro das MongcesVol 25 f 130, all quoted by Joseph Thekkedathu, History of Christianity in India, p93
-Historical Archives of Goa, Livro das Mongces Vol 25 f 121 quoted by Joseph Thekkedathu, History of Christianity In India p94 [↩]
- A document signed by all the church people of Malankara beginning with Ankamale who were assembled at the large church of Angamale on the first of February (old reckoning) in the year of our Lord 1787, in reference to the increase of true faith, and with regard to the bringing about a real union in our church, and a walk according to the manners and customs of our forefathers quoted by Thomas Whitehouse, Lingerings of light— Appendix E
-(The Padiyola is available online- http://www.smcim.org/angamaly/history.htm ) [↩]
- Abstract of a brief history of Syrians in Malabar, preserved among themselves as genuine history, Church missionary society report for 1818-19 , page 317, quoted by Thomas Whitehouse in Lingering of light—Appendix D [↩]
- – India in 1500 AD, Fr Antony Vallavanthara, quoted in Changanasseerry Athiroopatha innale innu vol I p 36
- G T Mackenzie, Christianity in Travancore, 1901 p 12(Mackenzie reports that Guuvea p5 says that it is in Latin and appended to Fasciculus Temporum). An Italian version appeared at Vicenza in 1507 called Paesi novamente retrovati. It is cited also as Novus Orbis or as The Travels of Joseph the Indian. [↩]
- East Syrian Mission to Asia with Special Reference to Malabar Coast from Sixth Century to Sixteenth Century AD and its Influence on Indian Religion Society and Culture by Elias TP, 2005 Doctoral Thesis to Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala Guided by Fr Baby Varghese, SEERI, Kottayam [↩]
- Kerala Syrian Christian, Apostle in India, The tomb of the Apostle, Persian Church, Syond of Diamper – Coonan Cross Oath, Subsequent divisions and the Nasrani People
- Divisions and Rite of the Churches- Syro Malabar Church, Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church ,Malankara Orthodox Syriac Church, Thozhiyur Church, Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Syro Malankara Church, Chaldean Syrain Church.
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