Ancient Churches of Saint Thomas Christians in Kerala

CHURCHES FOUNDED BY ST. THOMAS, THE APOSTLE

The catechetical system of the Syro-Malabar Church is organized in four levels: Synodal, Eparchial, Forane / regional, and Parochial.

  Year
Saint Thomas at the palace of King Gondaphares in North India c. 40 AD
Saint Thomas lands at Cranganore c. 52 AD
Palayoor
Kodungaloor
Parur
Kokamangalam
Niranam
Nilackal / Chayal Kollam
c. 52-72 AD
Martyrdom of Saint Thomas at Mylapore, India July 3rd. 72 AD

All these communities were in the coastal region. Around the third century St. Thomas Christians began to move east as part of their agrarian activities to bring more forest under cultivation. This resulted in erection of several churches at inland parts. In the succeeding centuries migrating Persian Christians and some local Christians concentrated more of their activities on the coast, while native St. Thomas Christians penetrated more and more to the inland parts. Until the last century, vast majority of Syro-Malabar Catholics lived in erstwhile Cochin and Travancore states, with Meenachil Taluk having the largest proportion.


ANCIENT CHURCHES/PARISHES OF THE THOMAS CHRISTIANS

Church Year of foundation
Kuravilangadu  Church c. 105 AD
Pallipuram Church c. 290 AD
Ambazhakad Church c. 300 AD
Aruvithara Church c. 301 AD
North Pudukad Church c. 400 AD
Puthenchira Church c. 400 AD
Chambakulam Church c. 427 AD
Akaparambu Church 450 AD
Angamali Church 450 AD
Mattam Church c. 480 AD
Muttuchira Church c. 510 AD
Kaduthuruthy Church c. 510 AD
Enammavu Church c. 510 AD
Udayamperoor Church c. 510 AD
Edapally Church c. 593 AD
Chalakudy Church c. 600 AD
Mylakombu Church c. 600 AD
Kolenchery Church c. 650 AD
Moozhikulam Church c. 650 AD
Kayamkulam Church c. 824 AD
Kothanalloor Church c.826  AD
Athirampuzha Church c.835 AD
Kottayam Church 890 AD
Nagapuzha Church 900 AD
Manjapra Church 943 AD
Mavelikara Church 943 AD
Kadamattom Church 950 AD
Pazhuvil Church 960 AD
Arakuzha Church 999 AD
Nediasala Church 999 AD
Kottekad Church 999 AD
Kunnamkulam Church 999 AD
Kadaplamattom Church 10th century
Kanjur Church 1001 AD
Kaduthuruthy Cheriapally c. 1001 AD
Pala Church 1002 AD
Muttam Church 1023 AD
Cherpunkal Church 1111 AD
Vadakara Church 1096 AD
Bharananganam Church 1100 AD
Changanacherry Church 1117 AD
Thripunithara Church 1175 AD
Cheppadu Church c. 1175 AD
Chengannoor Church c. 1175 AD
Kudamaloor Church c. 1175 AD
Ernakulam Church c. 1175 AD
Mulanthuruthy Church 1225 AD
Kothamangalam Valiapally 1240 AD
Karthikapally Church c. 1240 AD
Kuruppumpady Church c. 1240 AD
Alengad Church 1300 AD
Muthalakodam Church 1312 AD
Njarackal Church 1341 AD
Koratty Church 1381 AD
Poonjar Church c. 1381 AD
Alleppey Church 1400 AD
Kanjirappilly Church 1450 AD
Ramapuram Church 1450 AD
Kothamangalam Cheriapally 1455 AD
Kudavechur Church 1463 AD
Elanji Church 1522 AD


MAP OF CHRISTIAN PRESENCE IN 1600


CHURCH ARCHITECTURE OF THE ST. THOMAS CHRISTIANS

In 1578, there were about Sixty Churches for Saint Thomas Christians in Kerala. The number of Churches increased during the course of time, and by the year 1644 there were about 94 of them. The Church buildings conformed to the Malabar style of architecture. The ancient Churches externally looked like non- Christian pagodas, the only distinction being the crosses that were put on the roofs and in front in the open air. The Churches also had flag staff. A flag hoisted on such a staff indicates that a feast is being celebrated in the church. The early buildings were built entirely of wood. (They would last 400 years!). Most of the old churches are beautifully decorated with the Virgin and Child, crosses on various floriated designs and angles, images of male and female beings, half man, half fish, holding a ship above their heads. There are also images which has no religious significance such as man shooting a tiger etc.

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