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Malabar Independent Syrian church
Classification Eastern Church
Geographical area Kerala
Founder Abraham Mar Koorilose
Origin 1772.
Separated from Malankara Syrian Church
Congregations 16
Members 35,000
Hospitals 1
Primary schools 3
Secondary schools 1

The Malabar Independent Syrian Church also known as Thozhiyur Sabah (Church) is a Christian denomination in Kerala, India. The term Independent denotes that it is independent from the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate; the term Syrian in its name refers to the Church's use of the West Syrian Rite and the Church's embrace of the West Syriac tradition in general.

This Church is part of the Saint Thomas Christian tradition, and continues to maintain good relations with the other major Saint Thomas Christian groups that took the Coonan Cross Oath.


Main Article : Syrian Malabar Nasrani

Due to international sea trade, several Jewish merchants settled in Kerala, the main port for the trade, from the 1st century BC. According to Nasrani tradition, Thomas the Apostle arrived there in the first century, to preach the Christian gospel to the Jewish community. Some of the Jews and locals became followers and became known as Nasranis.

After taking an oath to defy the Portuguese persecution of their faith, the Nasrani welcomed visiting Syrian Orthodox bishops. Contact with the Syrians lead to adoption of the Antiochene liturgy, and growing influence on the church by the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch; the church became known as the Malankara Syrian Church. The Patriarch's influence was not universally popular, and in the eighteenth century a few Nasrani formed a faction decisively independent of the Syrian Patriarch; this faction gathered in Malabar, north of Cochin, and in 1771 amicably split from the remainder of the church.

The faction gathered in Malabar were in the minority, initially having control only over a simple hut in a jungle, but they gradually expanded in numbers; as a result of an 1862 court case, the Madras High Court confirmed that this group was an independent Syrian church, and it has subsequently been known as the Malabar Independent Syrian Church.

File:Nasrani Evolution.jpg

Relationship of the Nasrani groups

Early Leaders

Leaving his home, his positions and his hometown in Antioch, Mar Ivanios arrived in Kerala in 1748. He lived in the Mulanthuruthy church teaching Syriac to the deacons. One day one of the deacons made a mistake in liturgy and immediately the boy Kattumangattu Abraham who was watching the lesson, corrected him. Mar Ivanios was much impressed and he took Abraham and his brother Geevarghese into his classes. Before going back to his home country in 1751, Mar Ivanios ordained them as deacons and later as kassessa (priests).[1][2]

Later Mar Baselius and Mar Gregorius of Jerusalem arrived. They also started teaching Syriac to the deacons. The Reverend Abraham was a great help to him. Kattumangattu Reverend Abraham felt called to build a church at Mattanchery, Cochin. Recognizing his knowledge, abilities and behavior, Mar Baselius ordained him as a ramban (monk). Mar Baselius died in 1764. Mar Gregorius of Jerusalem in 1771 ordained the Reverend Abraham and gave him the episcopal title, Abraham Mar Koorilose.

Relations with other Nasrani groups

The church has tried to maintain good relations with the remainder of the Malankara Syrian Church. Three times, when the Metropolitans of the Malankara Church did not have the opportunity to consecrate their successors, Mar Philoxenos II, Kidangan (1811-1829) of the Thozhiyur Church was invited. It was Mar Philixinos who consecrated Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious I (Mar Thoma X) on March 22, 1816, Punnathara Mar Dionysious (Mar Thoma XI) on October 19, 1817 and Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius (Mar Thoma XII) on August 27, 1825.[3]

However, within 150 years of the Church's split with the Malankara Syrian Church, the latter group fractured completely, into three subsequent churches: the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church (who wanted theological, liturgical reform & interdependency of Malankara Church), the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church (who wanted the Antiochian Patriarch to have full authority), and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (who limited the Antiochian Patriarch's authority to liturgical matters). The Malabar Independent Syrian Church maintains close relations with these three successor churches.[4]

The Church today.

The Church today has expanded out of its centre in Thozhiyur. In 2008, a new church was consecrated in Cochin.


Following is the list of Metropolitans of the Malabar Independent Syrian church.[5][6]

  1. Abraham Mar Koorilose (Kattumangattu) – (1771-1802). He was a metropolitan consecrated by Mar Gregorios of Jerusalem at Mattancherry. He is known as the Elder Bava. He was consecrated without the approval of Mar Thoma VI and so he had to go through a lot of difficulties and persecutions. He went to Thevenal, Vettikkal, a place very near to his home and built a hut and spent his time in prayer and meditation. There he was afraid for his life. He was invited by Ittoop Kathanar to come to Malabar. So, to escape from Mar Thoma VI, he went to Malabar and settled at Anjoor in a small village in Kunnamkulam, Thrissur district, where he led a life of prayer. He was reported to have miraculously healed a Muslim boy and many others. A local chieftain of Anjoor, Hydrosekutty Moopan, was impressed by his devotion and donated a coconut grove to the metropolitan. There the headquarters of the Church were established. The cornerstone for a church was laid in June 1772. Later this church was declared a cathedral. Thus began the Anjoor church also known as Thozhyur Sabah (church). Abraham Mar Koorilose (Koorilose Bava) died on July 10, 1802, and was laid to rest in the Thozhyur church.
  2. Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (Kattumangattu) – (1802-1807). Known as the Younger Bava, the Reverend Geevarghese was the younger brother of Abraham Mar Koorilose. He was always seen accompanying his brother. In 1794, Abraham Mar Koorilose consecrated him as his successor. He consecrated Skaria Mar Philexenos and Joseph Mar Ivanios as suffragans. Geevarghese Mar Koorilose died on May 29, 1809, and was laid to rest at Vettical Dayara, Mulanthuruthi.
  3. Skaria Mar Philexenos (Cheeran) - (1807-1811) was consecrated by Geevarghese Mar Koorilose.
  4. Geevarghese Mar Philexenos (Kidangan) (1811-1829) 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 March 22, 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 life-long. On October 19, 1817, he consecrated Punnathara Mar Dionysious and returned to Thozhyoor, but Punnathara Mar Dionysious died on May 17, 1825. Mar Philoxenos was again invited and he consecrated Cheppad Mar Dionysios for the Malankara Church. Mar Philoxenos died on February 7, 1829.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (Karumamkuzhi Pulikkottil) (1898-1935) 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 Metropolitnas 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.
  9. Kuriakose Mar Koorilose (Kuthoorey) (1935-1947) was consecrated by Titus II Mar Thoma, assisted by Abraham Mar Thoma of the Mar Thoma Church.
  10. Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (Cheeran) (1948-1967) was consecrated by Dr.Juhanon Mar Thoma assisted by Mathews Mar Athanasius of the Mar Thoma Church.
  11. Paulose Mar Philexenos (Ayankulangara) (1967- 1977) was consecrated by Dr.Juhanon Mar Thoma of the Mar Thoma Church.
  12. Mathews Mar Koorilose (Kuthoorey) (1978-1986) was consecrated by Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma, of the Mar Thoma Church.
  13. Joseph Mar Koorilose (Alathoorey) (27 August 1986) was consecrated by Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma, of the Mar Thoma Church. The Most Reverend Metropolitan Joseph Mar Koorilose retired on 28 May 2001.
  14. Cyril Mar Baselius Metropolitan. 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. .[7] On the same day (28 May) the then Metropolitan Joseph Mar Koorilose handed over all his wordly and spiritual powers to the new metropolitan

Ecumenical relations.

Malabar Independent Syrian Church is a member of the National 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.



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


  1. St. George's Chapel, Akathiyur, Kerala.
  2. Mar Bahanan Chapel, Anjoor Bazar, Kerala.
  3. Sleeba (Cross Memorial) Chapel, Thozhiyur, Thrissur Dt., Kerala.


  1. Syrian Christian U.P.S., Chalissery, Palakkad Dt., Kerala.
  2. St. George's H.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.


  • Mar Koorilose Mission Hospital, Anjoor, Thozhiyur P.O., Thrissur Dt., Kerala – 680 520.


  • St. Thomas Press, Kunnamkulam, Guruvayur Rd., Kunnamkulam, Thrissur Dt., Kerala - 680 503.


  • Kunjhadukalude Velicham, MISCYL Office, St. Thomas Church, Guruvayur Rd., Kunnamkulam, Thrissur Dt., Kerala-680 503.

See also


  1. Varughese, Rev.K.C., History of the Malankar Independednt Suryani Church. Page 26.
  2. Mathew, N.M. History of the Marthoma Church, Volume 1. Page 196
  3. Rev.K.C.Varghese Kassessa. (1972). History of Malabar Independent Syrian church.(Mal). Page 62.
  4. Mulanthuruthi Padiola.
  5. Kochumon, M.P., Parisuddha Kattumangatte Bavamar. Page 58,59.
  6. Varghese Kassessa, K.C. A short history of Malabar Independent Syrian church.(page 118)
  7. Kerala Govt: Gazette Part 5th, private advertisement, dated 19th February 2002


In Malayalam:

    1. Mathew, N.M. (2007). Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram, (History of the Marthoma Church), Volume 1.(2006) and Volume II (2007). Pub. E.J.Institute, Thiruvalla
    2. Kochumon, M.P., (1995) Parisuddha Kattumangatte Bavamar. (The saintly bishops of Kattumangattu) Pub. By Most Rev.Joseph Mar Koorilose Metropolitan.
    3. Porkulam, A.K.C.. (2003) Parisudha Kattumangatte Bavamar Thiruvachanathiludey.(St. Kattumangattu bishops through the Bible), Trissur.
    4. Varughese, Rev.K.C., (1972). Malabar Swathantra Suryani Sabhyude Charitram (History of the Malankar Independednt Suryani Church)

External links

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