The 3rd Apostolic visit of His Holiness the Patriarch of Antioch & All the East to INDIA



Silver Jubilee of H.H. Patriarch's enthronement begins

About 2,00,000 people attended the jubilee inauguration

Front row from left: CSI Bishop K J Samuel, Philipose Mar Chrisostym Marthoma Metropolitan, Former Minister of State T M Jacob, Leader of Opposition V S Achudandan, Cheif Minister Oommen Chandy, H.B. Catholicose, H.H. Patrirach, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, UDF Convener P P Thankachen, Minister of State P K Kunjalikutty, Minister of State Dominic Presentation, Sebsatian Paul M.P, Former Union Minister O Rajagopal, SNDP General Secretary Vellappay Natesan, Former Minister K V Thomas, Philip Mathew

KOCHI, INDIA, Sep. 21:  The grand celebrations marking the silver jubilee year of the enthronement of the Patriarch of Antioch, Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I, began in Kochi today at 5.00 pm. About 2,00,000 people participated in the marvelous function held at the (late) Mor Baselios Paulose II Catholicos Nagar in Marine drive ground, Cochin.  50,000 chairs with two large screens and many close-circuited TV's were arranged at the venue. The pandal itself was 1.5 lakh sq.ft. which is the largest erected temporary structure in the place. The Marine drive ground and the nearby city roads were overflowing with the faithful who came from all over the state. Even three hours before the meeting had started, the seats were full.  As the Marine drive ground became insufficient to accommodate all, the faithful had to spill over to the nearby city roads as well.

H.H. Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iywas along with
H.B. Catholicos Baselios Thomas I arriving at the venue

At 5.00 pm His Holiness accompanied by the Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I came to the venue in an open Jeep. It passed through the specially arranged path  in the centre of the ground.  The over joyous crowd waved at His Holiness. The Patriarchal flags were seen everywhere.  People were shouting Long Live Patriarch, Long Live Catholicos, Long Live Antioch-Malankara link !! The Police officers and organizers found it very difficult to control the people as they were so enthusiastic to come near the Patriarch. It was one of the biggest crowd the city has seen for many years.

The public meeting started soon after His Holiness reached the dais. The function which was presided by the Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, started with the welcome address by the Holy Episcopal Synod President Mor Gregorios Joseph followed by the presidential address of His Beatitude the Catholicos.

Chief Minister Shri Oommen Chandy inaugurating the silver jubilee celebration of the enthronement of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iywas to the Holy Apostolic Throne of St. Peter

At 5.30 pm the Chief Minister of Kerala Mr. Oommen Chandy inaugurated the silver jubilee celebrations of the enthronement of Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iywas to the Holy Apostolic throne of St Peter, the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East.  Speaking on the occasion, Chandy applauded His Holiness the Patriarch for his great contribution in the Christian Ecumenical world.  He hoped that the Patriarch's visit would bring prosperity to the Church and the Nation. Chandy also tried to bring into the attention that Kerala was a role model for other states with regard to religious amity.

Delivering the keynote address, Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil, the head of the Syro-Malabar Church in India stressed the role of Antioch and the Patriarchs in Church history. He also recalled the warm relations existing between Rome and Antioch. The bilateral agreement signed between Rome and Antioch in 1984 was a milestone in Church unity. The relations between Rome and Antioch were so warm that Rome invited Mor Ignatius Zakka (when he was only the Metropolitan in charge of Mosul diocese) as an observer in the Second Vatican council, the Cardinal said.  The Cardinal also recalled the visit of the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas to Rome in 1984 and the Pope John Paul II's visit to the Patriarch at Damascus in 2001.

Mar Thoma Church supreme head Philippose Mar Chrisostem said that "Correction in the historic process is inevitable for all social movements.'' He wanted the Church leadership to make the silver jubilee celebrations of the enthronement of the Patriarch an occasion to recover humanity's love and righteousness. Mar Chrisostem hoped that the Patriarch's Kerala visit would accentuate the ongoing ecumenical movement in India.

Faithful inside the 'Pandal'

Former Church of South India Moderator Bishop K J Samuel also spoke. He hoped that the Kerala visit of the Patriarch would be an impetus to the ecumenical movements in the country.

The veteran communist and leader of the  opposition front in the Kerala Assembly V.S Achuthanandan, Union Minister of State for Power P.M. Sayed, former Union Ministers O. Rajagopal and P C Thomas, Ministers of State P K Kunjalikutty and Dominic Presentation,  UDF Convener P P Thankachen, former State Ministers T M Jacob and K V Thomas, SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappalli Natesan, Member of Parliament Sebastian Paul, Press Trust Chairman Philip Mathew were among others who spoke. Various other Religious and socio-political heads were also present during the function.

Patriarchal Address

The Patriarch in the end, addressing the mammoth gathering, said the relationship with the Syrian Orthodox Church in India and the Patriarchate of Antioch started in the early Christian century and was conformed in the council of Nicea in AD 325. 'We are glad to note that this ancient tradition is still kept alive.  For the full text of the speech of His Holiness, click here.....

According to press reports this was the biggest crowd assembled at cochin in the near past. The meeting concluded at 8.15 pm.


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@ MSCR  -  Malankara Syriac Christian Resources