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Home » Churches of Kerala » St George Cathedral Church In Kerala

St George Cathedral Church In Kerala

St George Cathedral Church In Kerala

The Karingachira church is located 1.5 km east of Tripunithura town and 250 m west of Hill Palace, the royal palace of the Highnesses of the erstwhile Cochin state.

Marshy land on either side of a rivulet that flows west of the church had a few islands connected by paths (chira in Malayalam) made of bushes known locally as karingali which gave the place the name Karingalichira that later became Karingachira.

Tradition has it that St. Thomas arrived at Kodungallur in AD 52 and established seven churches in Malankara, one of which was the Kottakkavu church in North Parur. In course of time, a church was established at Edapally was established by migrants who belonged to the Kottakkavu church.

When Tripunithura gained prominence as the capital of the erstwhile Perumpadapu Swaroopam (Cochin State), several Syrian Christians migrated to the area. Syrian Christians of those days primarily engaged in commercial activities which were looked down upon by the upper-casted Hindus. But the rulers of the kingdom recognized the value of their activity and encouraged them to migrate to their capital by opening a new market (Puthan-angadi) for them.

While many Christians settled in the Tripunithura-Karingachira area, they continued to depend on the Edapally church for their spiritual needs.

In the early part of 8th century AD, two Syrian Christian families-Maliackel and Palathinkal gained prominence in this region. A member of the Maliackel family died unexpectedly. A message was sent to the authorities of the Edapally church, but they refused to bury the remains in the church due to alleged dues to the church outstanding from the Maliackel family.

Even so, the family took the dead body to Edapally church hoping for a settlement and burial rites, but was turned away. On their way back, they decided to bury the body in Karingalichira, an uninhabited place in those days. This event caused great concern among the local Christians.

The Maliackel family consulted with the Palathinkal family and decided to construct a church at the location where the body was buried. A church was established there in the name of St. George, the patron saint of Edapally church.

There is evidence to believe that this church was established in AD 722. In 1923, an inscription was found when an opening was made in the south wall on the eastern side of the church to construct a window. This inscription (70 cm x 52 cm) was in a language known as "Naanam-Monum.

" This inscription was translated into Malayalam and inscribed on the southern wall on a granite slab. An English translation would read "In the Year of our Lord Yeshue Meshiha 722, month of Makaram 13, this Church of St. George was established and was rebuilt in 812 AD, Karkidakom 21.

Translated from Naanam-Monum." Malayalam developed as a language between 800 and 920 AD, during the reign of Kulashekhara Rajas (Sridhara Menon, "Survey of Kerala History", p. 188). Since the inscription is in Naanam-Monum and not Malayalam, the inscription is acclaimed to be true.

Following the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, the trade route between Europe and Asia became inaccessible to Europeans. This encouraged them to explore a sea route to Asia. In 1498, Vasco de Gama, a Portugese navigator, arrived in Malabar.

The Portugese attempted to displace the Arab merchants who were favoured by the Samoothiri (Zamorin) of Kozhikode (Calicut) but did not succeed. Taking advantage of the strife between Samoothiri and Perumbadapu Moopila (Cochin Highness), they curried the favor of the Cochin royal family.

Since Syrian Christians had earned rights in commercial activities, the Portugese claiming to be co-religionists began to arrogate their rights. When they were comfortably established they began a campaign to bring the Syrian Christians under the Roman Pope.

Their objective was not only a religious conversion but also a cultural conversion. In 1599, a Portugese Archbishop, Alexis de Menesis, arrived from Goa and held the notorious Diamper Synod at Udayamperoor.

Menesis set out to every church in Malankara in order to bring them under the Roman yoke. While every church was included in his itinery, he was unable to include Karingachira. Thus Karingachira church never came under the Portugese.

On hearing about the persecution suffered by his flock in Malankara, [allegedly] the Patriarch of Antioch, Mor Ignatius Ahathulla, set out to Malankara in 1653. He was captured by the Portugese enroute and was taken to Madras.

 Two Syrian Christian deacons from Malankara, Itty and Kurian, who were on pilgrimage to Mylapore heard about the incident and reported to the church in Malankara. They also managed to meet Mor Ahathulla and secured a 'Statikon' from him appointing Archdeacon Thomas as the episcopa of Malankara [with the condition that a proper ordination would be obtained as soon as the situation permitted].

 In the meantime, Mor Ahathulla was brought to Cochin. On hearing about his arrival, hoardes of Syrian Christians rushed to the Cochin Port to free their holy father. It is said that church bells rang at Karingachira and several of those who rushed to Cochin were from Karingachira.

They were unable to free Mor Ahathulla. Legend has it that he was drowned in the Arabian Sea with a millstone tied to his neck, although another version says that he was taken to Goa and burnt on the stake. Later on Makaram 3rd, at Mattancherry, about 25000 Syrian Christians held on to a rope tied to a leaning cross and pledged to never surrender to the Roman yoke and always remain under the Holy Apostolic See of Antioch maintaining their ancient rites and traditions.

Archdeacon Thomas, who had received a 'Statikon' from the Patriarch of Antioch was declared the episcopa of Malankara. This historic event is known as the Koonen Kurishu Sathyam (The Leaning Cross Oath). A number of those who participated were again parishioners of Karingachira.

However, after this event, Karingachira Church saw schism amongst the two prominent families on the question of loyalty to Rome. The Maliackel family favoured Rome while Palathinkal family remained in the traditions of the Syrian church.

On an appeal from Maliackel family, the Cochin Highness called the two parties together in 1758 and settled the dispute. Following this, the two factions continued to share the church for some more time until 1780 when the Roman faction took a share of 10002 puthen from the church and separated.