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


H.H. Ignatius Zakka I Iywas the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East blessing the faithful
Venue: Mor Baselios Paulose II Nagar, Marine Drive, Cochin; Sep 21, 2004

The Syrian church in India which is believed to have been established by Apostle St. Thomas in AD 52 continues to be in the Orthodox faith primarily because of the sacrifices of many of the Syrian fathers of yesterdays who came here ignoring great difficulties for which the Malankara Syrian Christians are greatly indebted.  The strength, power, glory, growth and the very existence of Malankara Syrian Church is unequivocally related to these holy fathers, many of whose identity are unknown.  Scarcity of the church records of the pre-Portuguese era is the major obstacle in getting the complete list of these Holy fathers.

However there is a strong historical reference to the arrival of a Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan named Mor Youseph in AD 345, who reached Malabar/Malankara along with Thomas Cana (Kanai Thoma) from Edessa (in the present Turkey). Later many prelates have been sent by the Patriarchs of Antioch on the request of the Syrian Christians of Malankara, some of the widely venerated among there are Maphriyono St. Baselios Yeldho  (Kothamangalam), St. Gregorios of Jerusalem (N. Paravur), Maphriyono Mor Baselios Shakralla  (Kandanad), Mor Kurillos Yuyakkim (Mulanthuruthy) and St. Osthatheos Sleebo (Kunnamkulam).  Though the list of Syrian Metropolitans who came here are many, only five heads of the Church had visited Malankara, that too in the last 2 centuries and Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas is the only church head who visits India more than once, thanks to the increased transporting facilities of the 20th century.

Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Ahattulla (Abdulla of Turabdin-1653)

In fact the first known Syrian Orthodox Patriarch who set out to reach his flock in Malankara was Moran Mor Ignatius Ahattulla (Abdulla of Turabdin), but enroute he was imprisoned by the Portuguese navy and was murdered and drowned in sea in AD. 1653, an incident which resulted in a massive revolt by the native Syrian Christians against the Portuguese and their Roman Catholic counterparts. As and when the news about this brutal murder of their spiritual leader spread, the agitated Syrian Christians numbering about 25000, assembled at Mattancherry near Cochin and took oath to protect their Church from the illegitimate dominance of Roman Bishops, a problem that was haunting them more than a century, and vowed to ever remain loyal to the Holy Apostolic See of Antioch, maintaining their ancient rites and traditions, which their forefathers were very keen to follow. This landmark event is recorded in the history as 'koonan kurisu sathyam' (Oath at the leaning Cross). The Syrian fathers who subsequently came to Malankara helped to reestablish the Orthodox faith and the Holy church was rebuilt once again.

The strength, power, glory, growth and the very existence of Malankara Syrian Church is unequivocally related to the holy fathers of yore who against all odds and impediments reached here and guided us from time to time in order to uphold Petrine Succession with the stamp of authentic apostolic entity. The faith, priesthood, liturgy, rites, rituals and practices, hierarchic protocols, the appellations and vestments everything has been of the Antiochean Church.  The sacrifices made on our behalf by the Syrian holy fathers are legendary.

The holy Patriarchs of Antioch & all the East who had visited India:








Patriarch of Antioch (1872-1894)

Though many Syrian fathers came to Malankara after the untoward incident of 1653, the first Patriarch of Antioch who visited this land was Moran Mor Ignatius Peter IV (also known as Pethros III in Malankara) in 1875.

The credit for the end of the discrimination by the British missionaries goes to this Patriarch. It was he who introduced a democratic system of administration in the Malankara Church through the formation of the 'Jacobite Syrian Christian Association'. The historic Mulanthuruthy Synod which took this important decision was held in A.D. 1876 under the presidency of His Holiness. Later the Patriarch ordained six Metropolitans of which one was the St. Gregorios Geevarghese (Parumala Thirumeni), his private secretary.

On 27 August 1876, His Holiness consecrated Holy Mooron at the Mulanthuruthy Marthoman Church. This was the first time in the history of the Church the Holy Mooron was consecrated in Malankara.  After staying in Malankara for 2 years the Patriarch returned in 1877. He died on 8th October 1894 (M.E. 1070 'Kanni' 25) and was entombed at the Mor Gabriel monastery (Kurkuma Dayro) at Turabdin in Turkey.



Patriarcah of Antioch (1906-1915)

In 1909 came the Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Abded 'Aloho. He stayed here for almost 2 years in quest of solving the problems in the Indian Church. During his apostolic visit, H.H. ordained two Metropolitans, St. Athanasius Paulose (Valiya Thirumeni of Malankara) on  June 9, 1910 at Akaparambu Church and Mor Severious Geevarghese (Edavazhikal) of Knanaya diocese on  August 28, 1910.  On 19 August 1911, the Holy Mooron was consecrated for the second time in Malankara which was again at the Mulanthuruthy Marthoman Church.

On 30 August 1911 the Malankara Association was convened at Aluva under the presidency of His Holiness the Patriarch. It was this convention, held for three consecutive days, which  elected Mor Koorilose Paulose (Kochuparambil) as the Malankara Metropolitan. The Patriarch returned on 14 October 1911. He died on 9 December 1915 and was entombed at St. Mark's Dayro, Jerusalem.



Patriarch of Antioch (1917-1932)

In 1931 came the Holy Patriarch of Antioch & all the East Moran Mor Ignatius Elias III. His mission in Malankara was to bring peace in the divided church.  H.H. traveled throughout Malankara and held several round of talks in this process.  But the Holy Father's extensive tour and severe mental agony he had to face, weakened him physically and mentally.  On 13 February 1932 H.H. entered into eternal rest during his stay at the Mor Stephanos church. The same morning while offering the Holy Qurbono, the Holy Father during the sermon said "We came to India with the sole purpose of ushering peace and open the Door of Peace, but sorry, all our efforts are in vein.... We are extremely unhappy to see our own limbs, is being lost! Our heart is breaking.... we would never forget your loyalty to the Holy See. We are confident that we would be with our Lord in His majestic second coming; May God bless you all and your families...."  It was at 2.30 in the evening the Holy father passed away. The mortal remains of the holy Patriarch was entombed at Mor Ignatius Dayro at Majanikkara on 14th.

While in Malankara, the Holy Father had once convened a Church delegates meeting at Kuruppumpady, which is popularly known as the Kuruppumpady Yogam, on 5 July 1931. This was the 3rd time a Patriarch of Antioch had been presiding in a Malankara Association meeting.

The memory of the holy Patriarch is revered throughout the Syriac Orthodox Church and especially in Malankara where thousands of pilgrims reach the tomb, by foot, on the annual feast day, from various parts of the Kerala state. He is the only Patriarch of Antioch whose remains are interred in Malankara and his tomb stands as a towering symbol of the sacrifices made by the Syriac fathers to nurture the church in Malankara. The Saintly Patriarch's name is remembered in the fifth diptych since 1987.

(Biography of the Holy father is available at


Patriarch of Antioch (1957-1980)

Three decades later, Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Yakub III visited Malankara with a mission to consecrate a new Catholicose for the reunited Malankara Church. On 22 May 1964 H.H. consecrated the first Canonical Catholicose by name Mor Baselios Augen I, for Malankara, at the Mar Elia Chapel, Kottayam. Incidentally, Mor Severios Zakka, the present Patriarch of Antioch was one of the co-celebrants in the consecration ceremony. The Patriarch left India the next month.

(Right) H.H. the Patriarch Mor Yakub III installs Mor Augen as the Catholicos of the East at Kottayam.

(Left) The Catholicos-designate Mor Augen reading the Pledge of Loyalty to the Holy See

Pledge by Mor Augen during his Catholicos consecration:  I the feeble and meak Augen Mor Themotios chosen for ecclesiastical office of the Catholicos confess my belief before the Synod, and before the head of the Synod His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Yacoub III Patriarch of Antioch and all the East that, the Patriarch is my head, that I accept from St.Peter the head of Holy Apostles upto your Holiness all the canonical Patriarchs who reigned on your Throne and all those who come after your Holiness. Once again I repeat my canonical connections with the Holy Throne of Antioch. I swear that I shall not depart from this solemn oath.


Though as the supreme head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, it was his first visit, as Rabban Abdul Ahad, he had been at Majanikkara Dayro for many years teaching Syriac and theology for the seminarians.

On 7 September 1975, H.H. ordained the second Catholicose for Malankara Mor Baselios Paulose II at the Patriarchal cathedral, Damascus. H.H. passed away on 25th June 1980 and was laid to rest at the Cathedral church, Syria.



H.H. the Patriarch being welcomed at the Cochin Airport in 1982 by H.B. Catholicos Mor Baselios Paulose II, the present Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I and others

Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas is the only Patriarch of Antioch who has visited Malankara more than once, first in 1982, two years after his Patriarchal enthronement and then in April 2000 to attend the Episcopal Golden Jubilee of the then Chief Metropolitan of the East Mor Clemis Abraham of Knanaya diocese. While the first Apostolic visit lasted for 50 days, the second was for only 3 days. In each of these visits millions of faithful thronged at various places to have a glimpse of their beloved spiritual leader. During the first Apostolic visit, H.H. consecrated the Holy Myron at Manarcad Marth Mariam church on 27 February. It was the third time in the history of the Church the Holy Myron was consecrated in Malankara. On 6 March H.H. also ordained a Metropolitan at the Kothamangalam Marthoma Cheriaplly. During the forthcoming Apostolic Visit of the Patriarch, His Holiness will consecrate the Holy Mooron in Malankara once again; after a gap of 22 years. Millions of faithful in India are eagerly waiting to participate in that divine ceremony. 

H.H. the Patriarch along with H.B. Catholicos and other Metropolitans ordaining an Assistant Metropolitan by name Mor Severios at Kothamangalam (6 March 1982)

Patriarchal message to the newly ordained Metropolitan: "Mor Severios, beloved son, we have today ordained you bishop. You shall be the salt of the earth. Salt may seem trivial, but it is very important. It is alive and active (Heb 4:12). It purifies..... Beloved son, your life should be salted by the teachings of our Lord so that you are the salt of the easrth. You have the duty to turn evil into good and to prevent the good from becoming evil. You have great responsibility, my son. IF THE SALT LOSES ITS SALTINESS THERE IS NO WAY TO MAKE IT SALTY AGAIN. It will be worthless. People will trample on it. Take sure, my dear son, that you do not loose your saltiness and get trampled upon."


H.H. the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas addressing the mammoth gathering
at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kottayam, Kerala on 8th April 2000,
 during his 2nd Apostolic visit to India
Source: Mathrubhumi daily, 9-April-2000



External Link:-

Photos & related news on His Holiness' past visits:





@ MSCR  -  Malankara Syriac Christian Resources