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The Pahlavi inscribed Processional Cross of Herat, Afghanistan

The Pahlavi inscribed Processional Cross of Herat, Afghanistan and the Pahlavi Crosses of South India: A Comparative Study of Religio Cultural traditions of the Churches of India and Parthia.

The Pahlavi inscribed Processional Cross of Herat, Afghanistan  and the Pahlavi Crosses of South India: A Comparative Study of  Religio Cultural traditions  of  the Churches of India and Parthia.
Dr. M Thomas Antony and Mathew Mailaparampil.
A Pahlavi inscribed  processional cross conceivably dated from  the 8th century AD was found recently from Herat in Afghanistan. This cross has similarities with the Pahlavi inscribed granite Crosses of South India and other crosses of Church of the East (East Syriac Church) in China. It bears Pahlavi inscriptions which proclaims a theological formula to defend the accusations made by the growing new religion of Islam in the region . This processional cross witnesses the importance of liturgical processions prevalent in the East Syriac tradition.
Herat is the third largest city of Afghanistan and is the capital of the province of Herat. It is situated in the valley of river Hari. During the time of Achaemenid Empire 550-330 BC the area was called 'Haraiva' in Persian [1] It is situated in Khurasan north west region of modern Afghanistan. Khurasan or Khorasan is a historical region comprising a vast area of north eastern Iran, Southern Turkmenistan and Northern Afghanistan.[2]  Prior to the Sasanian rule, the region of Khorasan was called Parthia[3] and was the homeland of the Parthian Emperors. Khorasan comprises the cities of Balkh and Herat now in Afghanistan, Mashhad and Nisapur now in north eastern Iran, Merv and Nisa now in southern Turkmenistan, and Bukhara and Samarkand now in Uzbekistan.[4]
Christianity in Herat and Central Asia.
Christianity penetrated in to central Asia in the very early period itself. Bardaisan in AD 196 commented about Christians in Gilan, the southwest of Caspian and Bactria, the kingdom between Hindukush and Oxus (Amu Darya).[5] In AD 549,  the Hephthalites in the Bactria requested Patriarch Mar Aba I to consecrate a Bishop for them and  an anonymous Syriac Chronicle describes Mar Elias, the Metropolitan of Merv converting an entire nomadic population to  Christianity by a miracle in AD 644.[6]
Herat was a Metropolitan Province of the Church of the East. It was mentioned as a 'hyparchy' in the Synod of the Church of the East in AD 585. Herat had a Bishop since AD 424.[7]  Synodicum Orientale  mentions that three of the four cities of Khurasan , Herat, Merv and Nisapur (Abrasahr), were represented by Bishops in AD 424 .[8]Herat was elevated as a Metropolitan province of the Church  of the East in the Synod of Isho Yahb in  AD 585.[9]  Synodicum Oriantale mentions a Bishop Yasdoi  in the synod of Dadisho in AD 424, Bishop Gabriel  in Synod of Akak in AD 486, Bishop Yasdad attended the synod of Babai in AD 497, another Bishop Gabriel in the synod of Isho Yahb in AD 585. Besides, a Bishop John from Abiward or Baward in the north west of Khurasan attended the synod of Joseph in AD 554, Bishop David from Abrashahr, a district in Khurasan in the synod of Dadisho in AD 424, Bishop Yohannis also from Abrashahr in the synod of Babai in AD 497, Bishop Habib from Bushanj, a town west of Herat in the synod of Isho Yahb in AD 585, Bishop Gabriel from Kadistan near Herat and another Gabriel from Badishi or Badhgis, a district north of Herat in the synod of Isho Yahb in AD 585 .[10] Thus, Christianity was well established in the area with numerous Bishops attending various ecclesiastical synods showing vigorous activity of the East Syriac Church in the area.
There was presence of Syriac Orthodox  Church of Antioch since the first half of seventh century[11]. They follow West Syriac tradition. There was also presence of Armenian Christian community in Herat during the fifth century.[12]
Processional Cross of Herat.

Philippe Gignoux, a French epigraphist and historian reported about a  bronze  processional cross with Pahlavi inscriptions  found in  Herat.[13] The upper vertical arm was broken and missing leaving the lower three arms and a base with an inverted  cup with  holes to fix a wooden pole or a  stand with nails. It measures 18.3 x14.1 cm. There were two curved ornamental plates connecting the lower arm to the two lateral arms with an indentation in the middle making it a w shape. Inscriptions in  Pahlavi  are seen on  these ornamental curved plates and also on the arms of the cross, on both faces. It was possible to reconstruct the  shape and length of the missing arm with high probability by comparing it with the two horizontal arms. When it is reconstructed  the original size could have been 24.3 x 14.1 cm.
It appears that this was a processional cross based on the fact that this cross was supposed to be fixed on a pole. If it was an altar cross, there would not be inscriptions on both faces. There is nothing in the inscriptions to suggest that this was a pastoral cross. This is a remarkable evidence pointing towards the presence of an ancient Christian community in Herat.
The design.
The design of this cross agrees with many of the ancient East Syriac rock crosses found in India and China. The arms of the cross ends with a flowery design with three rounded buds as seen in the Pahlavi inscribed Saint Thomas Crosses (Mar Thoma Sliva) of India. The lotus arrangement and the steps in the Saint Thomas Crosses of South India  are not seen in the Herat  cross. As the top vertical arm is missing, we are not clear about any descending dove on the top.
The Inscriptions.
 The inscriptions are in the Middle Persian language with some Syriac words  in Pahlavi script. The Pahlavi inscribed crosses of South India also bear Pahlavi inscriptions with definite Syriac logograms.[14] These denote the strong Persian connection and the East Syriac background. The Pahlavi script of this cross resembles the text used in the sixth century Pahlavi Psalter found in Turfan in the Xinjiang- Uighur region of China.  Philippe Gignoux thinks this inscriptions most probably dates to  a time between  6th and 8th centuries AD.[15] The inscriptions talk about a certain 'Mare' of the Church of Herat in the year 507 or 517  entrusted the community to a Saint or Holy (Karisise) and a theological formula that there are no three gods but only one  and a wish for the prosperity for the Church.
As the Cross has a missing piece and inscriptions are on both faces , the reading was difficult. Gignoux considered the starting point was the vertical arm,  then the horizontal arm from right to left sides. The following is the translation  of Philippe Gignoux[16].
Front side.
............(missing part)bagdag son of Nisem-burzar that (sees/write)too. Mare son of NN, who (is) of the Church of Herat, who gave this (same) flock to Karisise the Holy .... in the year 507/517
Back side.
......(missing part) (We believe that ?) in heaven there are not three Gods/Creators, and on earth that wealth and happiness be the hosts to the Church of my good teaching.
In all probability, this Cross belonged to the Church of the East and is connected to the local Persian heritage. The usage of Late Middle Persian writing on an object of Christian worship shows that the local East Syriac Christian community was proudly Persian and bilingual- using East Syriac and Pahlavi. The Church of the East had several Bishops of Persian extract  and with very Persian names in this region. It has been pointed out that the theological formula regarding the non-existence of three gods most probably is a rebuttal to accusations made by proponents of the newly growing religion of Islam.[17]
The date on the inscription could not be the Christian Era because 507/517 AD does not comply with the style of writing and notations used by the Churches of the Syriac tradition. It is too early for the Seleucid Era which began in 311/312 BC. While it is possible that it could be the Sasanian Yazdegerd III Era which began in 632 AD, it would place the cross in the 12th century. However, the writing is from a period closer to the Pahlavi Psaltar and not later. Most probably, it is the Bactrian Era which began in 233 AD as this region is near Bactria. That places the date on the cross to 740/750 AD.[18] This time period coincides with the great East-Syriac Christian expansion into central Asia and China.



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Processional Crosses with inscriptions.
Glanville Downey, who was an Associate Professor of Byzantine Literature in the Harvard University at Dumbarton oaks, Washington DC comments that many of the ancient  religious antiquities seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art are inscribed with the donor's names and some pious phrases and vows. He gives an example of  a Processional silver cross  of Antioch treasure  of the sixth century, in the Metropolitan museum of Art[19]. This cross has Greek inscriptions on both sides.  The back side has the words "For Herodotus and Komitas, sons of Pantaleon" meaning this cross was presented for the salvation of the souls of Herodotus and Komitas. On the front, inscribed "Holy God, Holy Mighty one, Holy immortal one, have mercy upon us" the hymn of Trisagion[20]. This is most appropriate to read on  a cross in the front of a procession.
Another example of such a prayer formula inscribed is on a  large 58 cm processional cross  excavated from Divrigi near the village of Opsikom in Istanbul in AD 1969 with Armenian inscription  "In gratitude.....offers to his/her intercessor, Saint George CAGINCOM". This Cross was dated as of AD 547.[21]
Two other crosses reported in the  collection of George Ortiz in Geneva, one of them is  21.8 x16.1 cm with a bust of Christ in the central medallion with inscriptions  in Greek on both sides and another one without any inscriptions. The cross with inscriptions is  made of two sheets of silver laid over an iron core. The  inscription at the back of the cross , on the top arm says - "Holy Holy Holy Lord of Hosts, Heaven and earth are filled with thy glory",  on the bottom  arm "Hosanna in the highest Blessed is he that cometh in the name (of the Lord)", on the left arm " Lord of" and on the right arm "Blessed". On the front upper arm, written  "Jesus", bottom arm " Christ Lord, help Thy servant Georgios", and left and right arms "victory".[22]
Another Cross in Toledo Museum of Art with   inscription in Greek,   on the back reads  "Have mercy on us son of God" and on the front reads "He who has crucified for us".[23]
These inscriptions on the back are understood in terms of a procession as people following the cross can read a prayer or a liturgical formula. In the late 6th and 7th centuries, cross was the single most powerful symbol in the church evocative of the triumph  over death, the life everlasting.[24]
Pahlavi Inscribed Crosses of Malabar, South India.
The Pahlavi inscribed granite crosses of South India parallels the same theme. These crosses were altar crosses rather than processional crosses. These are probably sculptured in South India by migrant Persian Christians who escaped persecution in Persia. The inscription seems to be a prayer for the person who erected it as deciphered by many eminent scholars. A new interpretation published recently by a linguist and an  epigraphic- palaeographic researcher in the University of Allahabad, Shilanand  Hemraj is as follows. "My Lord is the Mishiha and life giver, who be praised for ever because of salvation. Indeed the Lord suffered crucifixion to redeem us."[25]
The inscription  is  in Pahlavi which denotes that this prayer was intended for Persian speaking  Christians, probably migrant Persian Christians who escaped persecution and intermarried with native Christians[26]. Later, the local Christians copied it and placed in the altars in many places, copying the inscription also without knowing what it is. Studies by C P T Winkworth showed that all these inscriptions are copies of an original, based on the finding that many letters are upside down and  a word  as mirror image due to copying by using rubbings or estampages from the original put in the wrong way in the copy.[27]
One of the Pahlavi inscribed crosses at Kottayam bears a Syriac inscription also which confirms that Syriac was a prominent language used at that time.
Glanville Downey  reports of a Marble Cross excavated from Hebdomon near Istanbul designed to stand in the open air  with inscription of Trisagion hymn, with the four phrases occupies on each arm of the cross as read from the top to bottom and left to right with a spectator's point of view of the order in which the Greek orthodox person makes his sign of Cross. On the back of the Cross, a dedication  by the Emperor Leo I (457-474) This Cross is now in the Museum of Istanbul.[28]
Pahlavi and Church of the East.
Pahlavi denotes a particular written form of various Middle Iranian languages that uses an Aramaic-derived script with Aramaic/Syriac logograms[29]. Pahlavi was the court language of the Sasanian Empire. Pahlavi was commonly used by Persian Christians, especially the East Syrians. The Christians of Mesopotamia were originally Jewish people and other local Aramaic/ Syriac speakers. But in the east of Tigris, the Persian Christians were mostly Zoroastrian converts who retained Middle Iranian languages such as Middle Persian and Sogdian. The first generation of these Christians retained their Persian names. Later generations changed their names into Christian appellations formed by  the compounds of faith.[30]
Chronicles of Seert mentions about a Ma'na, a student of the School of Edessa translated many Syriac works into Pahlavi and in AD 470, another Ma'na of the same school wrote religious discourses, cantilces and hymns to be sung and recited in the Persian Christian churches in Persia.[31]
Even  Certain ecclesiastical canons like that of  Simon, the Metropolitan of Rev Ardashir (d 670 AD) were originally composed in Pahlavi and later translated into Syriac  by a Monk from Beth Katraye.[32] This confirms that the official language of the Church of the East was Syriac and hence the local documents had to be translated into Syriac.
It appears that the Sasanians promoted Pahlavi over Syriac and hence the Church in Persia started using Pahlavi also, probably for para liturgical uses. Even when Pahlavi canticles and hymns were found, no such manuscript of a liturgical text in Pahlavi  has ever been found anywhere in the ecclesiastical area of jurisdiction of the Church of the East. There is no evidence so far to confirm that the whole liturgy was translated into Pahlavi. We can see usage of Syriac language  widespread in inscriptions in central Asia and China where the Christianity was brought from Persia. This means the Persian Christians and Missionaries used both Pahlavi and Syriac, but Syriac remained as the liturgical and universal language.
Even the more liberal Western Churches considered translating the liturgy to a language other than Latin only after 1960s, how can we even think of more conservative and traditional Syriac churches adopting vernacularisation at a very early period ? Early Christianity evolved in three different languages- Syriac, Greek and Latin.
Pahlavi usage was prominent  in South Persia. Christianity spread to Central Asia and China through Persia, but most of  the inscriptions found in Central Asia and China are in Syriac. Widespread presence of  ancient Syriac inscriptions and manuscripts found in central Asia and China  confirms the prominent usage of Syriac language in the area.[33] There are local Chinese, Pahlavi and Sogdian inscriptions also. In Malabar , South Indian State of Kerala, Syriac and local language- vattezhuthu(early malayalam) -inscriptions  are commonly seen in the Christian context  but  the series of  Persian Crosses bear Pahlavi inscriptions.
Almost half of the manuscripts in 'Turfan collection'  are in Syriac language. These are dated  11-14 th century AD by different scholars. There are some manuscripts in local scripts like Sogdian, Uighur Turkic  and Pahlavi. Many of the  Sogdian, Uighur Turkic and Middle Persian manuscripts are written in Syriac script. Many of the Turfan collection of Christian manuscripts are bilingual, with Syriac liturgical text with rubric instructions to the Priests in Sogdian. Almost all of the liturgical texts are in Syriac.[34] In a certain document dated  AD  1253, found from Inner Mongolia in the 1980s, a cross a and a short quotation of Psalm 34 in Syriac characters and language with the remaining text in memory of the dead  in the Uighur alphabet.[35] Thus we can assume that even in 13-14 th century Syriac was  still the liturgical language with local language used for giving instructions in liturgical texts and for para liturgical texts.
Thus, it  is evident that in South Persia Central Asia,  China and India, even when Pahlavi, Chinese and Early malayalam- vattezhuthu is used in Christian inscriptions and Christian manuscripts, in all these areas, Syriac  was  also used widespread. This shows that Syriac was the common link language because of the liturgical use.
We have to assume that in all these areas, Syriac was used as the liturgical language but local languages were  used in documents, manuscripts and up to certain para liturgical usage like Pahlavi canticles and hymns used by Persian speaking migrants.
Even when different languages were used, knowledge in Syriac was  a universal necessity in the Church of the East. When the illustrious Monk Markose, the Chinese born  Patriarch of East Syriac Church  in AD 1281 confessed on the occasion of his selection to the Patriarchal position " I am lacking in education and church doctrine. I am not even acquainted with your Syriac language which is a matter of universal necessity[36].



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The Syriac Church of the East- the continuation of the Judeo Christian movement of the Apostles.
The Church of the East was the direct continuation of the Judeo Christian movement of the Apostles of Jesus. Jesus and His disciples spoke Aramaic, pronunciation of which is well preserved in the East Syriac dialect. This fact is evidenced by the preservation of many East Syriac words in the Bible written in Greek transliterated- as    'Amen', 'Maran Atha',  'Thal itha cum' - Little Girl, get up(Mark 5:41), Eph' pha-tha'- be opened ( Mark 7:34), 'E'li E'li Le-ma sa-back'thani'- My God, My God, why have you foresaken me ( Mathew 27:46) 'Martha' the sister of Lazar and Mary (Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1, 19-24,30,39 )[37]
Early Christianity developed in Syriac Aramaic. When the Churches in Jerusalem and Antioch became Hellenised and adopted Greek as their religio cultural language, the Syriac  Churches continued Syriac as their religio cultural language. Even in Rome, there is evidence that the Christian liturgy was celebrated in the very early period in Syriac. An early second century  document  recently unearthed from the base of the Palatine hill in Rome reveals the dissatisfaction among many Christians in adopting Latin instead of Aramaic Syriac in the celebration of Holy Mass.[38]
The Church of the East was founded by Jesus himself by His promise to the Edessan King Abgar the Ukkama that I will send my disciples to Edessa to heal you and give life to you and those with you, once I have been taken up after finishing what I have been sent for.[39] On the day of Pentecost, people from Mesopotemia and Parthia were present in Jerusalem.  "Parthians and  Medes and  Elamites,  and those who dwell in Mesopotamia, Jews  and cappadocians and those from Pontius and Asia minor. And those from the region of  Phrygia and of Pamphyli and of , Egypt and of the regions of Libya near  Cyrene, and those who have come from Rome, both Jews and proselytes. And those  from Crete, and Arabians, behold we hear them speak in our own tongues of the wonderful works of God".[40]
The Church of Edessa was founded by Mar Addai (Addai is the Syriac version of the Greek name Thaddeus)[41] who was sent by Apostle Thomas. Church of Ctesiphon was founded by Mar Mari, a disciple of Mar Addai.  Churches of Parthia and India were founded by Apostle Thomas himself. Thus, the Syriac Church of the East was founded by Apostle Thomas and his disciples and hence could be called as Thomasine Churches.
Iranian Christianity.
During the Parthian rule, the Christians of Persia (Parthian Empire ) suffered  harassments and persecutions but no systematic campaigns against them . But during the Sasanian period and later Islamic periods, there were organised persecutions.[42]
Christianity in Iran can be traced back from the visit of the three Parthian Priests (Magi) to infant Jesus.[43] Persian Christians claim that the Magi were the first ever Christians.[44] Saint John Chrysostom taught " The Incarnate Word on coming into the world gave to Persia, in the person of the magi, the first manifestations of His mercy and light so that the Jews themselves learn from the mouths of Persians of the birth of their Messiah.[45]
The early Christians in Persia might have been those fled from Roman empire due to persecution as early as AD 68 onwards and those came to Persia as missionaries to preach the Jewish communities in the Parthian Empire and their Jewish converts[46].During the Sasanian era, Christians who supported the diaphysite thought fled to Persia due to persecution in the Roman Empire.[47]
Shapur I in the AD 250s  reclaimed many of the old Achaemenid kingdom of Persia that was destroyed by Alexander the Great  by war with the Roman Empire resulted in a large number of Roman prisoners deported to Persia and resettled them in Beth Aramaye, Maishan, Beth Huzae and Fars. Many of these were Christians. They spoke Greek and had different services than that of the Church of the East. They founded a Roman Church in exile and had Bishops from Antioch namely Demetrius, Ardaq, Andrew and so on. Chronicles of Seert also comments about two separate churches found in Rev Ardashir, the Church of the Romans where the services were in Greek and the Church of the Kirmanians (the Christian traders from Kirman resided in Rev Ardashir) where Syriac was used for the liturgy.[48]
In the third century, Zoroastrian priest Kartir initiated persecution of other religions. The Kaba-ye  Zardusht inscriptions of Kartir in AD 285 speaks of striking down the Nasraye and Kristiane  communities along with the Manichaens, Budhists, Jews and Brahmins to put Zoroastrianism beyond challenge in the Empire.[49] The Nasraye were the Syriac speaking Judeo Christian community of the East Syriac Church and the Kristiane were the Greek speaking Christians who were deported from the Roman Provinces to Persian empire during the war.
After a century, the Acts of the martyrs present a different story in which many of the Christian victims  of Shapur II had Iranian names that they were Zoroastrian converts to Christianity. This means by the beginning of 4th century, there were Iranian( Persian) speaking Christians too in Persia.[50] Thus, by the early fifth century, Persian Empire had a Christian community that included Syrians, Greeks and Persians.[51]


Church of the East spread along the silk road to Bactria in the early centuries itself. Metropolitan provinces of Merv and Herat of Khurasan in the fifth century is an evidence of spread of missionary activity along the silk road to the east. The Khurasan area was a hub of the missionary activities directed towards east. An anonymous Chronicle written in AD 680 in Syriac  mentions about Metropolitan Elias of Merv actively involved in converting many people from Turks and other nations. It describes an encounter of the Metropolitan with a Chieftain in that location while travelling, the Metropolitan dispelled a storm by sign of Cross resulting in the Chieftain and the community converted to Christianity en masse.[52]
History of Mar Aba mentions consecration of a Hephthalite Bishop in AD 549. The location of this See could be the Bishopric of Badghis-Qadistan represented in the Synod of Isho Yahb in AD 585. This could have resulted in elevation of Herat as a Metropolitan See as Herat was traditionally associated with regions of  Pusang, Badghis and Qadistan.[53]
Church of Fars and Church of India -Maritime Trade links
India and South Persia had strong trade links. The Sassanids overthrowing the Parthians in AD 225 set ready for trans oceanic trade with India by setting up ports like Rew Ardashir,( Rishahr on the Bushire Penninsula), Astarabadh Ardashir (formelry Charax)Bahman Ardashir (Forat of maisan), Wahasht Ardashir, Kujaran Ardashir (on the Iranian Coast), and Batn Ardashir on the Arabian coast. It was the Christian merchants who operated this trade. Chronicles of Seert mentions that Sassanid ruler Yasdigird I( 399-421 AD) sent the East Syriac Catholicos Mar Ahai to Fars to investigate  the piracy of ships returning from India and Ceylon. This denote that the merchants involved were Christians.[54]
This Maritime trade caused a strong connection with Indian Church and the Church of Fars. On the coasts of the Arabian Gulf, there were many Monasteries as spiritual hub for these merchant missionaries.
Kharg Island was such a hub where Archaeological excavations revealed a monastery and  about 60 Christian tombs of the period 250 CE - confirms the strong presence of Christians in the area .[55] Archaeological studies at Sir Bani- Yas, Marawah islands off Abu Dhabi, ,Failaka and Akaz islands off Kuwait are other strong evidence for the Maritime  Trade- Missionary links on the Arabian coast.[56]
Processional Crosses.
Processional crosses  are crosses used in processions in the ceremonies of worship. They are used in processions  in the  Liturgy. In certain traditions, it is a privilege of the Bishops to use a processional cross in Liturgy. They are used outside the church also for processions. One of the earliest specific references to the custom of using crosses in processions can be found in a hymn in the honour of cross by Venantius Fortunatus of the sixth century[57]
Processional crosses were associated with relics. In the monastery of Theodore of Sykion, there is a sixth century processional cross that contain relics of the true cross[58]. The Monstrance used widely in the Roman Catholic Church is a variant for of a plain Cross with a capsule in the centre to place venerable relics  and later the Holy Eucharist for adoration. The Monstrance  has a basic design of a plain cross with radiant spikes from the centre forming a circle.
Processional Crosses in Malabar
The Processional crosses were common among the Saint Thomas Christians of  India also. They are part of the paraphrenalia of the public processions in the Christian Churches in Kerala along with ornamental umbrellas and so on. They are usually plain crosses not crucifixes, with a stand which is decorated with a  beautiful veil.[59]
A contemporary processional cross among Saint Thomas Christians of India.
The Saint Thomas Christians used processional crosses in  the liturgy. One  such ancient processional cross has been documented in the history of Saint Thomas Christians, the processional Cross of the ancient Church at Muttuchira, Kerala.
The Processional Cross of Muttuchira.
The ancient Church at Muttuchira in the South Indian State of Kerala  is traditionally believed to be founded in the fifth century. A number of archaeological artefacts are found in this Church compound including the Pahlavi inscribed  Persian Cross and the historically important Lithic inscriptions of Muttuchira[60].  The discovery of the ancient Pahlavi inscribed Granite Cross  during the renovation of the ancient Ruha D Kudisha Church on the eastern side of the open air rock cross in the present Church complex  in AD 1923 caught attention of the archaeology department of the then Government of Travancore. This initiated detailed investigation and   a  bell metal cross with Silver covering was also found along with several archaeologically important objects.  A local historian George P Murickel wrote on 02/12/1925 "Our brass cross has a close resemblance to the cross engraved on the  oval stone (the Pahlavi inscribed granite  cross)". [61] Rev Fr Joseph Pediyekkal who was a Vicar in this Church reported to the investigators that the bell metal Cross reported by Mr Murickel was actually a Silver Cross with bell metal core, which was melted in AD 1919 to recover the Silver.Fr Pediyekkal also reported that this was used in processions.[62]
This cross is not seen today, but a picture of it has been published in the book Christianity in India, a History in ecumenical perspective, Edited by Rev  Fr H C Perumalil CMI and  Rev E R Hambye S J, Prakasam Publications, Alleppey, India 1972[63]. This was a Processional Cross modelled on the  famous Mailappore  Cross and the series of Pahlavi inscribed Granite Crosses of South India, the Mar Thoma Sliva.



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Other Similar Processional Crosses of East Syriac Church.
Malacca cross.
Sir Henry Yule reported in a manuscript about a copper Cross found in Malacca. "While digging  in a property near Malacca river belonging to Raya Mudaliyar . About 2 braccas down  they found a 'cross fleurie' of copper in the ruins of an underground house of bricks  like a hermitage. This was  of the shape of the crosses of the knights of Calatrava,  3 palms breadth  and length  It seems it is the cross of some of the Christians of Mailappore came with merchants of Coromandel to Malacca" .[64]
Iron Cross with Syriac and Chinese Inscriptions found in  Mosul.
Alphonse Mingana, a famous orientalist and researcher who was a Reader in Syriac in the University of Manchester reported that  he found an Iron Cross with Syriac and Chinese inscriptions in a private family at Mosul, Iraq. The Syriac words read 'Sliba Zkha' means the 'Cross has conquerred.'[65] As it has Chinese inscriptions, it might have originated in China and might have been imported to Iraq by some Missionaries or pilgrims. The words 'Cross has conquered' may denote a processional hymn.
Iron Cross with Chinese Inscriptions.
An iron Cross was found in China in the province of Kiang-seen with inscriptions on it  from which  we can assume that it belong to AD 239.[66] The inscriptions on it  was in Chinese language which reads as " Four seas rejoice over peace, iron road spendours a cross, Ten thousand folks for grace  yearn ,a thousand autumns incensed by golden urn". This may or may not be of any Christian significance, but if we see this information together with the report of Arnobius in "Adverses Gentes"mentions about Seres(China) as among the nations reached by the Gospels[67] and  the Malabar tradition that Apostle Thomas went to China from India, one has to consider that this could be the earliest Christian artefact in the far east.
Cross found in ruins of an East Syriac Monastery in Samarkand- Uzbekistan with Syriac, Sogdian and Chinese inscriptions.
East Sogdian Archaeological Expedition of the Academies of Sciences of Ukraine and Uzbekistan found ruins of a Medieval Christian monastery in the Urgut area of Samarkand, today's Uzbekistan, in the foothills of Zerafshan mountain ranges. In the mountain cave, they found Sogdian, Syriac  and Chinese inscriptions. Arabic Chronicles give hints of a monastery in the region by  9 th century AD , but archaeological evidence from even 7th century were found in the site. One important finding was  an iron Cross found on the steps directed to an altar supposed to be a processional cross used in liturgies.[68].
Processional Crosses: Church of the East and Thomas Christian tradition.
The East Syriac Church always had a tradition of  honouring  Cross. Narsai (399-502 AD) wrote " the altar stands crowned with beauty and splendour and upon it is the gospel of life and the adorable wood( the Cross)". Gabriel Qatraya and Abraham Bar Lipah  also  comments similarly  that the altar of the East Syriac Churches  adorned with the Cross and the Gospel also the image of Christ. According to John  Bar Zo'bi, Cross and the gospel on the altar represent the 'qnoma' of Christ. Cross represent the image of the body of Christ and the gospel his soul. [69].
Gabriel Qatraya and Abraham Bar Lipah witnesses position  of the  Cross, the Gospel and the Image of Christ  on the madbha. The onitsa sung  on the Friday following  the feast of the cross states " Saviour, your church carries a heavenly treasure and riches. She takes refuge  and fixes her trust in the mysteries  and images that you entrusted  to her,  namely the great book of the gospel, the adorable wood of your cross and the glorious image of your humanity . The mysteries of her redemption are indeed exalted " [70]
Crosses are used in various liturgical processions inside and outside the churches  of Saint Thomas Christians. 
Cross in the procession in the Eucharistic liturgy
In the ancient liturgy of the Saint Thomas Christians of Malabar, there are three specific occasions where a procession of Cross is celebrated.
1 Procession with the cross from the sanctuary during the Onitsa d' Qanke
2 Procession of the cross with the gospel
3 Re-entry  of the cross  and the gospel in the sanctuary before the 'offertory'.
Procession of the Cross from the sanctuary during the Onitsa d' Qanke.
The earliest evidence available today is a manuscript kept at the Monastery of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) at Mannanam, Kerala, India which is the modified version of the  ancient   liturgical 'taksa' (text) of Thomas Christians.  The manuscript is the Latinised text of the ancient liturgy of Thomas Christians. At the end of the manuscript, there is a note stating that " the order of the 'Raza' as arranged by  Bishop Roz in the synod of Angamali in the fourth year and fourth month of his reign (1603 AD)".
It has to be noted that due to the resistance of the Cathanaars(Priests) of the undivided Saint Thomas Christians, the Portuguese Missionaries had to keep many of the traditions and rituals of the Holy Eucharistic liturgy untouched.  Thus this confirms the longstanding practice of the Saint Thomas Christians with procession of Cross during the liturgy. Gabriel Qatraya also witnesses similar custom among the east Syriac Church.[71]
In the procession of the cross from the sanctuary during the Onitsa d Qanke, the celebrant, deacons and the laity kisses the cross and then places the cross in the madbaha. Gabriel Qatraya also describes the procession of the cross from the santuary to the bema among the East Syriac Church. Abraham Bar Lipah, Assemani and  Van Unnik also describes about this procession. After the Kissing of the Cross, the Cross is placed in the bema.
Procession of Cross with the Book of Gospel.
Gabriel Qatraya and Abraham bar Lipah describes about the procession of cross along with the book of Gospel in the East Syriac Church.  The procession of cross with the gospel is not described in the 'Rozian' order even when  in  Latin tradition, especially Braga tradition prevailed in Goa,  a crucifix accompanies the book of Gospel. If the procession of cross was of Latin origin, Roz would have kept it in the order of Raza. Roz omitted this procession in order to suppress one of the Syriac traditions. Even though this was omitted in 'Rozian order', the custom continued in Malabar.[72] Priest takes the book of gospel, incense it and 'turgama' is sung. Then the Book of Gospel is taken to the nave for reading as a procession along with the Cross. AS mentioned before, the Cross is the Qnoma of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel the words of the Lord. Hence they can't be separated and goes together.
Re-entry  of the cross  and the gospel in the sanctuary before the 'offertory'
The third procession of Cross is the re-entry of the Cross and Gospel into the sanctuary after the Korozhutha as a procession.
Cross in the procession during the Onitsa d' Basalike of Ramsa.
 Fr Charles Payngott explains quoting Gabriel Qatraya  that the tradition of a procession of Cross in the celebration of Ramsa  originated from the time of King Constantine who used to go to the church of evening prayers. There was  a procession to honour the kings. As the word for King in Greek is Baseleus, the name Onitsa d' Basalike came into existence. Later, Patriarch Isho Yahb  changed it into a procession of Cross.
Processions outside the Church.
In all religious processions, a large processional cross is carried in the front. This is usually an ornamental cross with a veil on the base.[73]
The  Iron Cross of Niranam.
The picture of this  Cross has been published in the Saint Thomas Christian Encyclopedia- Thomapedia, Ed. Dr George Menacherry[74]. This is made of iron and was once a steeple cross of one of the earlier Churches of Niranam. This is a Persian Cross of a different design. This is an equilateral Cross modelled on the Granite Cross at Kottakkavu near Cranganore in Kerala. The four equal arms ends  with a flowery pattern- two curved flowery petals on either side with a bud in the centre- fleury Cross.  The curved floral petals on either sides of the ends of each arm  meet with similar petals of the other arms of the Cross forming a circle with indentation in between the arms. This design of Cross is commonly seen on the open air rock crosses, granite beams, baptismal fonts and woodworks of the ancient Saint Thomas Christian Churches. The famous mural painting of Archdeacon George of Christ is seen holding a pastoral cross of similar design. This may have been the design of pastoral crosses of Saint Thomas Christians.
A mural painting of Archdeacon george of Christ. 
Pahlavi  was widely used by Persian Missionaries of the Church of the East who migrated to India, Central Asia and China. When Persian Christians migrated to other places due to persecution, they continued to use Pahlavi. These left archaeological artefacts in the form of inscriptions and manuscripts. The Pahlavi inscribed granite crosses of South India are one of the vestiges of the presence of Persian speaking Christian migrants in South India. There is evidence that later the  local Christians copied these crosses with the Pahlavi inscriptions, even though they did not understand Pahlavi- evidenced by uneducated copying of Pahlavi inscriptions leading to letters upside down and words as mirror images on the copies. They might have considered these inscriptions as some important theological formulae or prayers.
Pahlavi inscribed processional cross found in Herat also  denotes the  possible religio cultural practice of inscribing theological formulae and prayers dedicated to the donors on objects of veneration. This is an archaeological evidence of ancient East Syriac Christianity in Herat and Central Asia related to the Persian Church and a living example of the Missionary zeal of the Church of the East which was larger than even the  Roman Church during the European Middle ages[75], without  official patronage of any Empire.  It also shows the  multi cultural, multi linguistic and multi ethnic nature of the East Syriac Church which had even an ethnic Chinese Patriarch ( Jaballaha III) in the year  1281 AD.  This confirms the Universality and the real Catholicity of the ancient Judeo- Christian Church of the East.
Picture courtesy.
The different pictures of the Processional Cross of Herat has been taken from the paper- Philippe Gignoux, Une Croix de procession de Herat inscrite en pehlevi, Le Museon, 07/2001,; 114(3):pp291-304
Picture of the processional cross at Ollur  and mural painting of Archdeacon george of Cross are taken from ‘The Nazranis, Indian Church History Classics, Ed Prof. George Menacherry,South Asia Research Assistance Service, ollur, Kerala.
Picture of processional cross of Muttuchira is taken from  the book Christianity in India, a History in ecumenical perspective, Edited by Rev  Fr H C Perumalil CMI and  Rev E R Hambye S J, Prakasam Publications, Alleppey, India 1972
Picture of the iron cross of Niranam is taken from The Thomapedia, The Saint Thomas Christian Encyclopedia of India, Ed Prof. George Menacherry.



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[1] Wikipedia article Herat, Afghanistan, accessed on 14 December 2014
[2] Encyclopedia Britanica article Khorasan, accessed on 25 April 2015.
[3] Robert Guisepi, Ed. A History of the Parthians, The International History Project.
[4] Wikipedia article Greater Khorasan accessed on 25 April 2015.
[5] Alphons Mingana, Early Spread of Christianity in Central Asia and the far east, a new document, Bulletin of John Rylands Library, Manchester, Vol 9, July 1925, no 2, p 308.
[6] Pier Gieorgio Borbone, Some Aspects of Turco- Mongol Christianity in the light of Literacy and Epigraphic Syriac sources, Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, Vol 19, No 2 2005 p 7 citing P Bedjan, Ed. Historie de mar Aba, in Historie de Mar Jaballaha, de trois autres patriarches, d'un prete et de  deux laiques nestoriens, paris  1895, pp 266-269 A Christian Priest arrived  at the court of the Persian sovereign, Khusraw I Anushirwan, as an envoy from the Hephthalites, with the request to Mar Aba to order him Bishop before his people.
[7] Christopher Buck, The Universality of the Church of the East: How Persian was Persian Christianity, The Journal of Assyrian Academic Society,10.1: 1996,p67.
Alphons Mingana, Early Spread of Christianity in Central Asia and the Far East, , a new document, Bulletin of John Rylands Library, Manchester, Vol 9, July 1925, no 2. p 298.
[8] Erica Hunter,  Church of the East in Central Asia, Bulletin of John Rylands Library, Manchester,vol 78.3:1996.p121
[9] Erica Hunter, Opus cit p 134.
[10] A Mingana, opus cit , p319
[11] Erica Hunter, opus cit. p 142
[12] Philippe Gignoux, Une Croix de procession de Herat inscrite en pehlevi, Le Museon, 07/2001,; 114(3):pp291-304
[13] Philippe Gignoux, Une Croix de procession de Herat inscrite en pehlevi, Le Museon, 07/2001; 114(3):pp291-304
[14] Shailanand Hemraj, Pahlavi Text and Imagery Context of the Persian Cross in South India Part I, Asian Journal of Religious studies, 60/1, Jan- Feb 2015, pp 15-31.
[15] Philippe Gignoux, Une Croix de procession de Herat inscrite en pehlevi, Le Museon, 07/2001,; 114(3):pp291-304
[16] Philippe Gignoux Une Croix de procession de Herat inscrite en pehlevi, Le Museon, 07/2001,; 114(3):pp291-304
Front side. Vertically: (top to bottom)
Characters :  [... missing part…]bdk ZY nšyymybwrcly BRE ZY nyšydc
Reading :..]badagiNišem-burzar pus ī nīšēd-iz
Front side Horizontally right arm: (scroll from right to left):
Characters:  m'lydy ZY gn'ly / yn'ly ZY MN knyšyZY hlydyMNW
Front side horizontally left arm (scroll from right to left)
Characters :  ZNH ty 'ywlmyh L ZY klssdy
p'ky ZY ZYh'lky ZLN (yn) P (W) N ŠNTdyk 5 (100) 7/17
Reading : Mārē ī NN ī azkanīšHarē(y) kēdādēnēw-ramīhō Karisisē ī pāk ī padsāl(īg) 507/517
Front side translation in French : …badag, fils de Nišem-burzar, qui (voit/écrit) aussi. Mārē, fils de NN, qui (est) de l’église de Hérat, qui a donné ce (même) troupeau à Karisisē le saint,…, en l’année 507/517
Back side vertically top to bottom :
Characters:-  […Missing part…] PWN 'sm'nc L’3'prydgl PWN
Reading :-...pad āsmān-iznēsēāfrīdgar pad
Back side horizontally right arm  scroll from right to left:
Characters:-  zmykclywyhplšh 'y YHWWN myyhm (') n
Back side horizontally left  arm  scroll from right to left:
Charactes:-  ‘L knšyyZYmhw 'mwk
Reading:- zamīg-izrēwīhfrašīh ē bav[ēd] mehmānō kaniš ī-m hu-ammōg
Translation in French : [Nous croyons que?] dans le ciel il n'y a pas trois dieux/créateurs, et sur la terre que la richesse et le bonheur soient le hôtes de l'église de mon bon enseignement.
[17] Christelle Jullien, Chrétiens d’Iran entre hagiographie et histoire. Avec une nouvelle proposition sur la croix de Hérat, Studia Iranica. Cahier 43, p175-192, 2011.
[18] Philippe Gignoux, Une Croix de procession de Hérat inscrite en pehlevi, Le Muséon, Vol 114, Issue 3-4, p291-304, 2001
[19] Glanville Downey, A Processional Cross, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New series, vol 12, No 9, May 1954, pp 276-280.
[20] This is the 'Khandisa Alaha' hymn in Syriac  widely sung in the saint Thomas Christian Churches in Kerala before the vernacularisation of the Liturgy in the 1960s.
[21] Erica Cruikshank Dodd, Three Early Byzantine Silver Crosses, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 41, Studies on Art and Archeology in Honor of ErnstKitzinger on His Seventy-Fifth Birthday (1987), pp. 165-179Published by: Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University.
[22] Erica Cruikshank Dodd, Three Early Byzantine Silver Crosses, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 41, Studies on Art and Archeology in Honor of ErnstKitzinger on His Seventy-Fifth Birthday (1987), pp. 167, Published by: Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University.
[23] Erica Cruikshank Dodd, Three Early Byzantine Silver Crosses, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 41, Studies on Art and Archeology in Honor of ErnstKitzinger on His Seventy-Fifth Birthday (1987), pp. 169, Published by: Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University.
[24] Erica Cruikshank Dodd, Three Early Byzantine Silver Crosses, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 41, Studies on Art and Archeology in Honor of ErnstKitzinger on His Seventy-Fifth Birthday (1987), pp. 167, Published by: Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University.
[25] Shailanand Hemraj, Pahlavi Text and Imagery Context of the Persian Cross in South India Part I, Asian Journal of Religious studies, 60/1, Jan- Feb 2015, p20.
[26] We have tradition of Muthalalis of Kollam and letters of Patriarch Timothy regarding such marriages.
[27] C P T WINKWORTH, A new interpretation of the Pahlavi Cross inscriptions of South India, The Journal of Theological studies, April 1929, cited by T K Joseph, Ed Kerala Society Papers series 3 p159-166 

Read more:
[28] Glanville Downley, A Processional Cross, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New series, vol 12, No 9, May 1954, p280
[29] Wikipedia article Pahlavi Scripts, accessed on 14 May 2015
[30] A Mingana, Early Spread of Christianity in Central Asia and the far east, a new document, Bulletin of John Rylands Library, Manchester, Vol 9, July 1925, no 2 p300.



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[31] A Mingana,  Early Spread of Christianity in Central Asia and the far east, a new document, Bulletin of John Rylands Library, Manchester, Vol 9, July 1925, no 2 p300
[32] E Saachu, Syrische Rechtsbucher III 1914 p 209 A Mingana Early Spread of Christianity in Central Asia and the far east, a new document, Bulletin of John Rylands Library, Manchester, Vol 9, July 1925, no 2 p 300-301
[33] NIU Ruji, Xinjiang University North west minority research centre Xinjiang University, Urumbqi, 830046,  Nestorian inscriptions in Syriac script found on silk road in China.
[34] Mark Dickens, Scribal Practices in the Turfan Christian Community, Journal of canadian Society for Syriac studies, 13, (2013) p5
[35] Pier Giorgio Borbone, Some Aspects of Turco Mongol Christianity in the light of Literary and Epigraphic Syriac Sources, JAAS vol 19, no 2 2005 p 17.
[36]  James A Montgomery, The  History of Yaballaha III Nestorian patriarch and of his Vicar Bar Sauma, Columbia University Press, 1927,  p 44  .
[37]  A Practical Grammar for Syriac Aramaic, Dr Thomas Kalayil CMI p 1-2
J P M Van Der Ploeg O P D S Th., D S Scr. Professor of Old Testament exegesis, Hebrew and Syriac at Nijmegen University, Introduction to the book Thomas Arayathinal, M.O.L., Aramaic Grammar, Mannanam 1957pp i-iii,
His Grace the Most Rev.Joseph Cardinal Parecattil, the late Archbishop of Ernaculam, Sathyadeepam, Vol 31, No 27, FEb 26, 1958.
accesssed on 13 May 2015. This document was part of a letter written by an anonymous frustrated Christian to a friend in response to an angry letter about the expanding use of vernacular in Masses in Rome. An excerpt of the letter  has been translated by the  Office of Linguistic Studies of the Catholic Church and has been transcribed below.
Dearest Brother,
Greetings be upon you, and upon you be greetings. May the peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all good things come, bless you and your home. From your dispatch, I have learned the unsettling news that many of our brethren in Rome are irritated that some are beginning to use vernacular during the Lord’s Supper. I myself, in common with many others, was full of sorrow when your dispatch arrived with the unsettling news that the holiness and beauty of Aramaic has been usurped by Latin; for you have given me sad news that this new vernacular Mass is doing much dishonor to the traditions that have been passed down to us by the Lord and the apostles themselves. I, therefore, must admonish you to stay clear from those that uphold such scandal to the Supper of the Lord, and in all due diligence must inform you that this new order of the Lord’s Supper is an abomination at best. Though your private letter to me contained a somewhat slight expression of your angst, I can assure you that it gave me pleasure that you were grieved, for, by grievance you have proven yourself to the Lord. More importantly, you have proven yourself a true Christian, more Christian than Sixtus, for there is nothing in which I habitually find greater satisfaction and true holiness than in bitterness and hostility. I am overjoyed that you propose to write a letter to Sixtus in all capital letter and with an abundance of exclamation marks. I also write to inform you that in response to this news, I propose now to make bishop of you, as well as Alexander, Aurelius, and our beloved Lucias, whose minds I trust are in accord with our own. This, I shall do without the permission of Sixtus. For he, it seems, has fallen in to grave sin when he gave ear to a number of Jews to assist in reforming the Lord’s Supper during his meeting last month with fellow bishops in his territory. I shall  end this letter by telling you that our new “society” shall ever and always pretentiously look down upon those that…”
[39] Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 1, 13.cited by Samuel Moffett, Christianity in Asia, Vol I Beginnings to 1500, p 48
[40] Acts of the Apostles, 2:09-13 The Holy Bible, The new revised standard version, Catholic Edition, Published by Thomas Nelson, for theological publications, India, Acts of the Apostles, 2:09-11.Holy Bible from the ancient Eastern Text, Geroge M Lamsa's translation from the Aramaic of the Pe****ta.
[41] David Wilmhurst, The Martyred Church, A History of the Church of the East, East and West Publishing Ltd 2011, p8
[42] Michael Nazir- Ali, Christianity in Iran, a brief survey, International Journal for the study of ChristianChurch, vol 9, no 1, February 2009, p 32-33
[43] Eliz Sanasarian (1998) Babibahais, Christians, and Jews in
Iran, Iranian Studies, 31:3-4, 615-624, DOI: 10.1080/00210869808701936
[44] A Christian van Gorder, Christianity in Persia and the status of non Muslims in Iran, lexington Books, p24
[45] A Christian van Gorder, Christianity in Persia and the status of non Muslims in Iran, lexington Books, p25
[46] A Christian van Gorder, Christianity in Persia and the status of non Muslims in Iran, lexington Books, p25
[47] A Christian van Gorder, Christianity in Persia and the status of non Muslims in Iran, lexington Books p30
[48] David Wilmhurst opus cit p11-12
[49] David Wilmhurst, opus cit p 12
[50] Wilhelm Baum and Dietmar W Winkler, The Church of the East, a Concise History, Routledge Curzon London and New York, p165.

(51)Joel Thomas Walker, The Legend of Mar Qardagh: Narrative and Christian Heroism in Late Antique Iraq, University of California press, 2006, p102

[52] Earica Hunter, opus cit, p133.
[53] Erica Hunter, opus cit  p 134
[54] P Malekkandathil, Sassanids and Maritime trade of India during early medieval period - Maritime India: Trade religion and polity in the indian ocean p3
[55] Christopher Buch opus cit 59.
[56] Joseph Elders, The lost churches of the Arabian Gulf: recent discoveries on the islands of Sir Bani Yas and Marawah, Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, Vol. 31, Papers from the thirty-fourth meeting of the Seminar for Arabian Studies held in London, 20-22 July 2000 (2001), pp. 47-57 Published by: Archaeopress, Accessed: 04-05-2015 10:45 UTC
[57] Glanville Downey, A Processional Cross,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, Vol. 12, No. 9 (May, 1954), pp.276-280
[58] John A Cotsonis, Byzentine Figural processional Crosses, Catalogue of an exhibition  at Dumbarton oaks 23 September 1994 through 29 January 1995, Dumbarton Oaks Byzentine collection publication no 10,  p 28
[59] Charles Payngott C M I, The Cross, its place in the Hudra and its sign in baptism and Eucharist, Doctoral dissertation submitted to Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, Facultas Scientarum Ecclesiasticarum orientalium Roma 1971 Directed by Rev Alphons Raes S J , p 67-68
[60] M T Antony, Muttuchira Sliva and Lithic inscriptions- Landmark Monuments of saint Thomas Christians of India,,
[61] Henry Hosten, Antiquities of Sam Thome and Mailappore, 1936, p 346
[62] Mr  T.K.Joseph, the Secretary of the Kerala Society founded modelled on the Royal Asiatic Society and a famous Historian, letter dated 03/10/1926 cited by H Hosten, opus cit p 346, also note foot note 2 p 346.
[63]Ancient Churches, Stone Crosses of Kerala-Saint Thomas Cross, Nazraney Sthambams,  and other Persian Crosses,
[64] H. Hosten, opus cit,  p 552
[65] A Mingana, The early Spread of Christianity in Central Asia and the far east, A new document, p 431-42.
[66] John Kesson, of the British Museaum, Cross and the Dragonor the fortunes of Christianity in China with notices of the Christian Missions and Missionaries and some accounts of the Chinese secret societies, Smith, Elder and Co Cornhill, AD 1854 p 10
[67] Dale A Johnson, Searching for Jesus on the Silk Road, p 23 accessed on 02 May 2015.
[69] Charles Payngott CMI, The Cross, its place in the Hudra and its sign in baptism and Eucharist, Doctoral dissertation submitted to Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, Facultas Scientarum Ecclesiasticarum orientalium Roma 1971 Directed by Rev Alphons Raes S J p 40-41
[70]  Paul Bedjan, III 304, line 2 f  cited by  Charles Payngott CMI The Cross, its place in the Hudra and its sign in baptism and Eucharist, Doctoral dissertation submitted to Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, Facultas Scientarum Ecclesiasticarum orientalium Roma 1971 Directed by Rev Alphons Raes S J p 41 foot note 13
[71] Charles Payngott, opus cit pp 47-48, 52-54
[72] Charles Payngott, opus cit p60.
[73] Charles Payngott, opus cit p 67.
[74] George Menacherry, Ed. Thomapedia, the Saint Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India, plate 4
[75]Wilhem Baum, Dietmer Winker, The Church of the East, A concise History, Routledge Curzon, 2003, preface.



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Saint Thomas’ Cross- A Religio Cultural Logo of Saint Thomas Chrsitans
M Thomas Antony
Published also at on 9th October 2010


Cross is a universal symbol of Christians all over the world. Primitive Christian groups used the image of fish as their symbol. Sign of cross was reported to be used by primitive Christians by Tertullian (b AD 160). Early in the third century, Clement of Alexandria mentions Cross as the symbol of the Lord. (1) It was from the 4th century the cross was emerged as the public symbol of Christians. It is considered that Cross is a post Constantinian development after the “exaltation” of Holy Cross.(2)

Cross was an instrument of punishment before it became a sign of Christianity. Romans and Greeks executed people on crosses. Cross symbol was used by humans even from the Neolithic period. Swasthika was used by people of Indo Europen origin like Indians Persians Slavs, Celts and Greeks.(3)
There are different types of Christian crosses exist in the world used by different ethnic and cultural groups. Gaelic cross is such a religio- cultural symbol found among the Celtic people. Gaelic crosses are excavated in the places where Celtic people live.

St Thomas crosses are unique among St Thomas Christians only. These were named Crosses of Saint Thomas by the Portuguese missionaries as they found these crosses widespread in almost all of Saint Thomas Christian churches. Antonio De Gouvea and Duarte Barbosa give good account of the widespread use of these Crosses in South India.

This cross is the most ancient Christian emblem yet discovered in India. (4)

Cross in Thomasine Christian tradition

According to St Thomas Christian tradition, The Apostle Thomas planted crosses in the Christian communities he established. Acts of the Apostles doesn’t comment about any such acts by any Apostles despite the author of Acts of the Apostles, St Paul who himself being a champion of the power of Cross.(1 Cor.1:17, Gal.6:14)The early Roman catacombs have no symbolism of Cross.

The Syriac Christian tradition developed a rich symbolism and use of the Cross. (5) ”Acts of Thomas describes the Apostle performing miracles with a simple sign of cross. This may be a retrojection of later developments to the apostolic times. The Cross occupies a prominent place in the East Syriac tradition, especially in liturgy. Since the Syriac word for cross, sliba means both the cross and the crucified, there is ample scope for compressing multi level meanings in hymns on the cross. The syriac liturgy of hours is particularly rich in this. The symbolism of cross gained prominence in the Syriac tradition earlier than it did in the other traditions”. (6)
East Syrian Church had a great veneration of the cross. They even considered the sign of the cross as one of the sacraments.(7) As far back as in even AD 250, East Syrians erected crosses at their tombs. (8) This shows that East Syrians venerated cross very early. St Helena was a Syriac Christian who discovered the wood of the true cross. This could have been due to the fact that her church venerated the cross. (9)

Mar Thoma Sliba- Saint Thomas’ Cross- A religio cultural logo.

Saint Thomas’ Cross or Mar Thoma Sliba is the religio cultural symbol of Saint Thomas’ Christians. This cross was the only object venerated in the Churches of Saint Thomas Christians when the Portuguese missionaries arrived. The most popular and the most ancient model is that of the Cross found at Mylappore- the Mount Cross. This is an ancient cross discovered by the Portuguese in the ruins of the Church at Saint Thomas mount in AD 1547.

It is well documented that the Christians of St Thomas did not have anything other than their Cross in their churches. The only archaeological evidence left about the antiquity of St Thomas Christians is the number of Persian Crosses found scattered in South Asia. There are 6 such crosses found in Kerala. They are two in the Great Church of Kottayam- Kottayam Valiya palli of the Knanaya Diocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church (Jacobite Church), one each in Ruha d’ Qudisha Forane Church at Muttuchira and Garvasis and Proctasis Church, Kothanalloor under the eparchy of Pala and Saint Mary’s Church Alengadu, under the eparchy of Ernakulam- Angamaly all are of the Syro Malabar Church, one at St George Church Kadamattom of the Syrian orthodox Church (Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church). The others in the region are found in Chennai- the Mount Cross found in the Saint Thomas Mount at Mylappore, Agasim in Goa and three such crosses found in Sri Lanca, one at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanca kept in the museum of Anuradhapura, one at Kotte and another at Gintumpitiya (Saint Thomas’ Town), Colombo, both are lost now.(10)

This widespread distribution of similar crosses with lotus and dove in this region signify the common religio cultural hertitage of the Saint Thomas Christians Christians in the region.

Crosses in South East Asia

Similar Crosses are also found in South East Asia and China. All these show similar design with the empty eastern cross standing on lotus. (11)
Monasteries decorated with East Syrian crosses dated seventh century and a coin with east Syrian Church cross set in a ring of pearls found in Samarqand. East Turkestan , Turfan, Dunhuang, are also places where similar crosses were found..(12)

Crosses are found in Buddhist monasteries in Tibet also. In Shatschukul, a cross with Tibetan inscriptions and a figure of Dove and in Lhasa, a large iron corn measure decorated with a Nestorian cross was found. (13)

Malacca cross

A copper cross on marble tablet was dug up in Malacca before AD 1613. It was found in the ruins of an underground house of bricks, like a hermitage, and it was of the shape of the crosses of the knights of Calatrava-a Greek cross in gules with fleur-de-lis at its ends. It was supposed to have belonged to some Christians of Mylappore who had come to Malacca with merchants of Coromandel. The Malacca cross, suggested to the Portuguese a comparison with the cross of about AD 650 on St Thomas Mount, Mylappore. Doubtless, it was a Persian cross as at Mylappore.(14)

In a cave at Kyanzittha, near pagan, Burma, in what is now a Buddhist shrine, there is a fresco with 9 crosses of a simple pattern: 8 crosses occupying the petals of an eight petalled lotus and the central crosslying in the cup.(15)



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Taxilla Cross

Taxilla cross is a cross pendant found in Taxilla in Pakistan but there are arguments that it is a pre Christian symbol. Several pre Christian coins are found in the region with similar cross embossed. (16)

Accounts of different authors.

Gouvea. - Cross of Saint Thomas

Antionio de Gouvea was an aide of Arch bishop Dom Alexis de Menesis. Menesis took notes of what he saw and heard during his visits to different Saint Thomas Christian communities. Compiling these notes, Antonio de Gouvea published a book Jornada of Dom Alexis De Menesis in AD 1606 which contain a mine of information about sixteenth century Malabar. Gouvea was the first who named these crosses, ‘Crosses of Saint Thomas’.
Gouvea reports that the old churches of Saint Thomas Christians were built like the temples of the gentiles but all full of crosses like those of the miracles of Saint Thome ( Mylappore), which they call Cross of Saint Thomas.(17) This is the most ancient account of Saint Thomas Crosses in Kerala. The original words used by Gouvea is “Cruz de Sam Thome”-meaning Cross of Saint Thomas. (18)

Duarte Barbosa.

Duarte Barbosa was a Portuguse traveller who came to India with Cabral in 1501. When Cabaral left Malabar with Joseph the Indian and others, Barbosa started exploring the country. Barbosa has written a lot about Christians in Malabar. He reports “ they say mass on altars like ours with a cross in front of them. And he who says mass is in the middle of the altar, and those who assist him are at the sides” (19) Again, Barbosa describes the ancient church at cape Comorin- “At this cape Comory there is ancient church of Christians, which was founded by the Armeninas, who still direct it, and perform in it the divine service of Christians and have crosses on the altars” (20)
These paragraphs clearly state the situation of Saint Thomas Christians just before the arrival of Portuguese. It is assumed that Barbosa completed his book by 1514-1517 period. He has clearly documented the crosses in our churches and our devotion to the cross. If you read this together with Gouvea, it is evident that these crosses are those of Mylappore. Barbosa also talks about the tradition of martyrdom of Apostle Thomas at Mylappore.

The narrations of Joseph the Indian

Joseph the Indian describes about the churches of Saint Thomas Christians in AD 1501 and reports that they have only crosses in their churches. The Latin text clearly states that there are no statues. Joseph also mentions about a big cross at the foundation of the churches- the open air rock cross. (21)

A M Mundadan describes that the Portuguese missionaries of the 16th century found that the Churches of the Saint Thomas Christians had no statues, but only crosses, without the figure of Jesus. They had it in Gold, silver, wood and granite stones. The Our lady of Mercy Church at Quilon, where Mar Sabor was buried, had three altars, each having a cross on it , a golden cross on the central altar and silver crosses on the side altars. One of these silver crosses was given to Captain Albuquerque as a gift to King Manuel of Portugal in AD 1503..(22)

Lotus, Dove and Cross

The salient feature of these crosses is lotus on the bottom and dove on the top on a decorative cross without the figure of Jesus. Crosses with the figure of Jesus- the crucifix became popular only by 12th century in the Latin Church. (23) The ancient Christian communities used the cross as an emblem without the figure of Jesus.

The emblem of cross has been considered very important by the primitive Christian community. The cross has been considered the sign of Jesus. ‘And then the sign of Son of man will appear in the heaven and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.( Matthew 24:30)
The East Syrian liturgy of hours says that the sliba will be held by Gabriel on the day of last judgement The Latin church liturgy says the sign of cross appear in the sky on the day of second coming of Jesus. Mar Epharaim considerd the sliba as a sign that appear before the second coming of Jesus. Luke says ‘Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"(Luke 24: 26) From these, we can see that the Cross is a sign of salvation in Mishiha. Cross reminds us about the victory of Jesus over death. It is the sign of eternal life. The whole theme of the Jesus’s incarnation was salvation- eternal life. It was the victory of Jesus and salvation- eternal life, not the death on cross was the central theme of the faith. That was the reason why crucifix was not used in the primitive church. Later, in Latin Church, by the influence of piety on the sufferings of Jesus, Crucifix was evolved. (24) As all know, different statues and Crucifix came to India by Portuguese missionaries and they forcefully introduced these to Saint Thomas Christians replacing our religio cultural symbol, the Cross of Saint Thomas’ Christians. The proof for this is seen in the legitimate attempts of mutilation of many of the Saint Thomas Crosses.

Lotus has been considered as a symbol of Budhism and it became the symbol of India itself due the influence of Budhism especially during the time of Ashoka.. It symbolises purity also. We can see many Indian Gods standing on lotus in various art forms.

Lotus and Cross is the main theme of most of the ancient crosses found in the Chineese provinces.(25) In one of the Chineese crosses, fire or a flame also seen on the top.

The dove depicts the Holy Spirit. Dove and cross is a popular design in the ancient church. A dove descending onto a cross is seen on the sarcophagus of Arch Bishop Theodore who died in AD 691, in Ravenna in Italy. (26). In the Apse mosaic of Saint John Lateran, Rome, show an empty cross with a dove descending beak first onto it.(27) Professor Gensichen of Heidelberg suggests that the cross and dove iconographic tradition of south India conforms with the mainstream Christian tradition of that time. (28) John F Butler discusses the cross and dove in his paper ‘Further thoughts on the South Indian Crosses’ he describes a 15th century orprey showing the father seated in a shrine within the top arm of the cross and a dove descending from his lap with the beak almost touching the INRI titulus which is immediately above the son’s head., in Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester. Another orprey shows a dove descending onto the titulus of the cross above the son’s head.kept in the At gallery of the Corporation of Burnley.. These shows the dove as the Holy Spirit in the Trinity of Father, son and the dove.(29)

Symbolism and Inculturation in the Cross of Saint Thomas.

The Cross of Saint Thomas is the best example of Inculturation. This is a Cross evolved in Indian culture.

Symbolism of various elements

The elements of the Cross of Saint Thomas Christians have been analysed by various scholars. Rev Dr Varghese Pathikulangara, describes the Mar Thoma Cross with his immense knowledge in East Syriac theology, as a dynamic symbol of the death and resurrection of Jesus in the Indian context. It proclaims the theological, Christological, Pneumatological, Eschatological and ecclesiological specifications of Christian faith as the Thomas Christians practice in India. He considers this cross as an invaluable historical data of the living faith of authentic Saint Thomas Christians.

The empty cross in imitation of the empty tomb symbolises the resurrection of Jesus. The blooming buds at the ends of the four arms of this cross symbolises the new life that is restored to man in the resurrection of Jesus.

The descending dove symbolise the Holy Spirit. As Saint Paul teaches, Holy Spirit transforms Jesus’ flesh body into Spirit Body and thus vivifies the dead Jesus Christ. (Rom 8, 11)

The lotus on the bottom shows the Christian faith erected on Indian culture.
The three steps on the bottom of the lotus signify the gogulta, the Calvary.(30)



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Comparisons with Indian art

The Mount Cross shows two pillars on either side with a round arch on the top. Jyothi Sahi, a Christian artist observed that this arch belongs to the well known torana type, also found in Buddhist and Hindu art. This arch springs from the opened mouth of an aquatic monster known as makara. The proto type of the makara torana can be seen in famous Kailasanadha temple of Ellora. Here, in a pillared chamber, the three river goddesses Ganga, Saraswathi and Jamuna are exquisitely carved under a makara torana against the background of rich floral designs.(31) In Ellora, the makara are sitting on the capitals while in Mount Cross, they sit on an abacus(plate)which is laid on the cushion. This type of Cushion capital with abacus can be seen in Mahabalipuram and at Vaikuntha Permal and Kailsanadha temples in Kanchipuram which are assigned to the middle of the eighth century , being built by the pallava dynasty. (32) Thus, it is clear that the Saint Thomas Cross encircled by the makara torana is an early perhaps the earliest example of inculturated Christian art in India. (33) This is clearly an inculturated Christian monument of authentic Thomasine Christians of South India.

Iconoclasm by the Portuguese missionaries.

The Portuguese missionaries tried to get rid of this ancient monument and traditions of Saint Thomas Christians to replace it with the Western Christianity. Despite their force and might, the Church of Saint Thomas Christians was successful in keeping their apostolic experience of Christianity handed down from their forefathers. It is evident that the Portuguese missionaries destroyed or abandoned these crosses in our community deliberately to keep the Catholic Syriac community away from their memories of their ancient traditions to make them in conformity with the Latin rite after the Synod of Diamper and were replaced by the Crucifix introduced by the Portuguese missionaries. We can see that the Saint Thomas Crosses at Goa and Muttuchira are found mutilated. The cross at Kothanallor was made invisible by covering it by plaster, (but it became visible when the plaster started falling away from the granite cross). The cross at Alengadu was just abandoned in the ground and was found accidentally. Surprisingly, the original Cross found at Saint Thomas Mount was preserved by the Portuguese as it has sweat blood and played miracles. It has to be noted that there were no Saint Thomas Christian community at Mylappore at that time and hence, preserving it would not cause any consequences for their proselitysation efforts where as in Malabar, it will cause the community to go back to the old East Syriac heritage. The crosses at Kottayam were preserved well in the altar as the Church there was not under the control of the Portuguese missionaries.

Saint Thomas’ Christians’ Cross or Manichaen Cross ?

There has been deliberate attempts from a section in the Syro Malabar Church to portrait the Saint Thomas’ Cross as Manichaen cross. I think these were part of the group politics in the church in the 1990s regarding the appointment of Major Arch Bishop.

Manichaen theory and Burnell

The Manichaen theory came into the arena from A C Burnell who was an archaeologist. Burnell studied about the Pahlavi inscriptions in India. Burnell proposes that the earliest Christian settlements in India were Persian, not Syrian as Pahlavi was the language in Persia until AD 650. He argues that it was Gnosticism and Manichaeism that was prevalent in Persia not Christianity and hence he proposes that the so called early Christians in Kerala were Manichaens. He has based his arguments on certain references about Manichaen missions to Hind and Sin from Manichaen epistles, witness of Cosmas Indecapleutes in AD 6th century about presence of Persian Christians and Persian Bishop, presence of Pahlavi language in different crosses and Copper plates. In a nutshell, Burnell’s argument is that as the early so called Christians were Persian, they should be Manichaens as Christianity in Perisan empire was vogue during the period of Sassaninas. Burnell Published his article in AD 1874 in Indian Antiquary. There was a series of discussions in Indian Antiquary with different arguments from Col H Yule-Indian Antiquary Jan 1875 p8-10, Richard Collins - Indian Antiquary May 1875 pp153-155, Burnell’s reply in June 1875 pp181-183, Collins again in Oct 1875 pp 311-314. From these articles, it seems that Burnell disagree with the St Thomas’s Apostolate in India and accuses that it was the Roman Catholic missionaries who supported the local legends about Saint Thomas, the Apostle to make it a history. He agrees that the inscriptions on these crosses are not Manichaen but Christian itself and argues that those were made to convert the Manichaens. He interprets the inscriptions as “who is the true messiah and God above and Holy Ghost”. Burnell wrote, ‘This statement appears intended to contradict the Manichaen doctrine that the crucified messiah was the son of a poor widow, and not Jesus. If these Pahlavi inscriptions were Manichaean, they would be in a different character. It seems to me, not unlikely, however, that relics of the manichaens may yet remain to be discovered on the west coast of the peninsula where they once were very numerous’. (34)
But even after 135 years, so far we have not seen any of those relics of Manichaeism yet. From these, Burnell agrees that these crosses were Christian crosses with Christian inscriptions meant to convert the earlier Manichaens to orthodoxy by the so called Nestorians who came later. He again argues that Nestorians would not have used Pahlavi language but the use here is meant for the earlier Manichaens!

Persian Christian monument- Collins

Collins argues against it and states that Burnell’s interpretation of the cross inscriptions itself are not Manichaen but Christian and they simply connect the Malabar Christians with Persia during some time in the Sassanian dynasty. There are Syrian documents which tell us that the Christians of Malabar were early connected to urrhoi or Edessa and those are enough to account for any amount of Persian antiquities now discoverable, without the supposition that the only Persian arrivals were manichaens. Collins also discusses about Burnells argument that manigramams were manichaens and declares that “there may indeed have been Manichaens in South India and in Ceylon; but I do not think we have found any certain trace of them at present, and we shall most certainly be mislead if we begin to look up all the word beginning with mani”. He concludes that the manichaen origin of Christianity in South India, then, is a thorough miserrimus dexter and we may safely shelve the subject till the ‘relics of manichaens’ actually do come to light. (35) Burnells’s main argument for Manichaen theory was that, as Manichaens were stronger and Christians were very vogue in existence in the Sassanian kingdom during the period, the Persian settlers should be manichaen. Fr Jacob Kollamparambil comments that Burnell’s understanding of Persian Christianity and its history is defective.(36) Fr Kollamparabil writes that Christianity in the Persian empire from the early centuries was much different from what Burnell wrote. Under the Sassanian rule from 3rd century to 8th century, the East Syrian Church had gathered considerable strength in Persia proper, Khuzistan, Babylonia, Adiabene, and Mesopotamia. Towards the end of the Sassanian rule, , before the Isalmic conquest, in the middle of the 7th century, the Metropolitan Province of Riwardushir alone in Persia had grown into a super province having 18 suffragan eparchies.(37) Even though Manichaeism was favoured in Sassanian rule under Shapor I (AD 240-273), it had lost the favour and under Bahram-I (AD 274-277), Manichaens were persecuted and Mani was executed.

After Burnell- Collins dispute in Indian Antiquary, the Manichaen theory was refuted and discredited and became dead among scholarly historians and many new articles were published from scholars the gave strong evidence of the presence of the Church of the East in Persia and its connections to India . (38)

Pahlavi- the language of Persian Christians

Church of Rewardashir of Fars was one of a definite stream of the East Syrian church with its own culture. The Indian church was under the Metropolitan of Fars until the time of Patriarch Timothy I . The Metropilitanate of Fars had some differences from the Patriarcate of Ctesiphon based on the usage of Pahlavi language, besides issues like ordination of Bishops and monasticism. The Church of Ctesiphon had Syriac as its liturgical language whereas Church of Fars (Persia) used Pahlavi as its liturgical language in the 5th century. (39) The Bishop Ma’na of Rew Ardashir had made a Pahlavi Bible in contrast to the Pe****ta Bible, in AD 420 and a copy of it had been excavated in 1966in Turfan in China. And is now kept in Berlin. (40)

Thus, even when the East Syrian Patriarcate was based at Ctesiphon after AD 420, Church at Fars developed into a parallel ecclesiastical centre and during the period 554- 790, Metropolitan of Fars separated his diocese from the Patriarch of Ctesiphone and himself ordained the Bishops for the six Bishoprics under him. The six towns of Bet Qatraye/ Bahraine- oman, Socotora and coastal south west India were also under the Bishopric of Pars.(41) The Catholicose of East Syrian Church Isho Yab III (650-658) records that in his day, the Metropiolitan of Rew Ardashir was responsible not only for the dioceses Fars alone but also for India, a geographical concept in which he included the places between the maritime borders of the Sassanid kingdom to the country called Qal’ah in Malayan peninsula, covering a distance of 12300 parasangs. (42)

If Manichean, why only in India ?

Pius Malekkandathil also discusses the Manichean theory in his article Saint Thomas Christians;A historical analysis of their origin and development up to 9th century AD. He argues that it is true that some Manichaen texts speak of Manichaen missionaries travelling to India, if they were Manichaen crosses, it should have found in places, where Manichaen doctrines got wide acceptance. Since it had more lasting impact on the western church than on Indian church , these crosses should have been found more in Europe, but so far none is recovered from Europe or from the heartland of Manichaeism. (43)

Did Manicheans ever venerate a Cross?

Fr Jacob Kollamparambil asks, did Manichaens ever venerate a cross ? According to Manichaen principles, Jesus did not die on a cross but it was a substitute. Mani also did not die on a cross. Mani was imprisoned by Bahram I and died in the prison in chains. His corpse was pierced through with a buming torch and then mutilated. The severed head was hung up over the city gate of Bet- lapat. His remains were buries by his followers at Ctesiphon (44) So, cross is nothing important to Manichaens and then why would Manichaens venerate a cross?

Religious Symbol of Saint Thomas Christians

Rev Dr George Nedungatt certifies Saint Thomas’ Cross as “The Saint Thomas’ Cross has been dubbed by some critics as manichaen, but there is no valid reason for doing so…Neither Apostolic nor Manichaen in origin, the Saint Thomas’ Cross is a beautiful and meaningful religious symbol of the Thomas Christian tradition. (45)

Different Crosses.

The Pahlavi inscribed Crosses found in the Indian subcontinent are grouped into two designs. Both the designs are displayed together at Kottayam valiya palli on the side altars for comparison. One with round upper border, well defined dove on the top and lotus on the bottom with pillars and arch encircling the cross where as the second group has pointed uppoer end, ill defined dove and lotus and no pillars and arch.

1 The Mount Cross- The Bleeding Cross

This is the first discovered Persian Cross. Mylappore has been considered as the site of martyrdom and the burial place of saint Thomas the Apostle . Saint Thomas’ Christians had a tradition of annual pilgrimage to Mylappore from ancient times. Marco Polo in AD 1293, wrote that the body of Saint Thomas the apostle lies in this province of maabar in a ‘little town’ , John of Monte Carvino AD 1292-1293 wrote that he stayed in the country of India wherein stands the church of Saint Thomas the Apostle for thirteen months and baptised people and buried his companion in the church of Saint Thomas. Yule’s Cathay reports Blessed Oderic (AD 1324-25) visiting Malabar,( he uses the term ‘Minibar’) and then another ten days journey to Mobaar where laid the body of Thomas Apostle. . And John De Marignolli in AD 1349 visiting Columbuim- Quilon and then proceeding to visit the shrine of the Apostle Thomas in Mirapolis . Nocola De Conti (AD 1425-1430) visited maritime city names Malepur situated in the second gulf of India- Bay of Bengal-where the body of Saint Thomas is honourably buried .(46) Narrations of Joseph, the Indian (AD 1501)confirms that Saint Thomas’ Christians go to Mylappore on pilgrimage where the body of Saint Thomas is buried. (47) Duarte Barbosa also reports the prevailing tradition in AD1514 that Mylappore was the site of martyrdom and the tomb of Saint Thomas the Apostle. (48) This proves that the tradition about Mylappore was present even before Portuguese.

When the first Portuguese arrived there, there was no building, only foundation walls that rose above the ground about 1 cubit, stretching east to west. The first Portuguese missionaries built a small oratory on this foundation in AD 1523.Later, in 1547, they decided to build a larger church and when they dug found another foundation, also east to west on the Tuesday 23/03/1547 which was unknown. They continued digging down and at 3 cubic, they found the ‘Holy Stone’. This stone was of the size of a mile stone with the cross engraved on it, facing down with fresh blood stains on it. This narration was taken by a Bishop from the elders of the area and from the writings of Nuno Luis and from others and publish (49)

The cross has raised edges and is round on the top. The Pahlavi inscriptions are on this round edge with a small cross in between two parts of the inscriptions. The cross inside is surrounded by two pillars and an arch surrounding it. The arch originates from the open mouth of something like an aquatic creature.

The cross has three steps on the bottom, three downward facing petals and upward facing floral petals looks like a lotus on which the cross is erected. The cross shows the arms ends in a bud pattern. The bottom arm a bit longer than the rest. A dove is seen facing downwards on the top arm. The entire structure is like a niche in which the cross and pillars are carved.

Kottayam Valiyapalli Crosses- 2 in number

Two similar crosses are found in Kottayam Valiya palli, on either side altars. The one on the south alter is exactly similar in design to the Mount cross but the one on the north alter is a bit different. These are the two different designs of Persian Crosses found in the Indian subcontinent.

2 Cross at north altar. (Left side)

This cross is smaller with a pointed border compared to the round upper border of the Mount cross. The pillars and arch are not seen.
The border around the cross is pointed, and the Pahlavi inscription is over the edge of the slab outside the border. The petals on the bottom of the cross is different from that of Mount Cross. They are mainly directed downwards with a small bud upwards on either ends. The arms of the cross are almost equal in length, but the ends show an additional button. The dove on the top is smaller, not very clear; it may be interpreted as a dove or even a flame.
This cross is considered to be the older one among the two.

3 Cross at the south altar.(Right side)

This is larger and the design is identical to the Mount cross.. Four arms are almost equal in length but ends shows an additional tongue shaped structure besides the three button/bud design. In the centre where all the four arms meet, there is a circular floral design. The dove is well defined and clear. On the bottom, three steps are clear, the downward facing petals are more like concentric semicircles but the upward facing petals are similar to mount cross floral arrangement.
The Pahlavi inscriptions are on the raised round edges of the slab on the top. There is additional East Syriac inscriptions are also seen on the bottom raised edge of the slab. Below the syriac inscriptions, there are 5 or 6 floral design seen. Above this whole design, another small cross similar to mount cross with two pea****s kissing the ends of the side arms and a floral decocoration above it. This part is not well visible now as it is covered by the wooden decoration of the church altar but described by Joseph Vazhuthanappalli and other authors. (50)

4 Kothanalloor Cross.

This is found at the Gervasis and Prothasis church at Kothanalloor of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church. This church was believed to be founded by Persian Bishops Mar Sabour and Afroath in AD 826. Mar Sabour and Afroath were two twin brothers. This cross was found on the northern wall of the church covered with plaster on 14/09/1987. (51) This seems to be a deliberate attempt to hide away the cross. Now, the cross is installed in a small chapel outside the church near the presbytery. It is believed that the original church was in Pallikkunnu and when they moved to the present site, the cross was installed on the side wall and probably someone deliberately wanted to cover it with plaster to remove the memories of Mar Sabour and Afroath. When the synod of Diamper declared Mar Sabor and Afroath as heretics and commanded all the churches dedicated to Sabour and Afroth should be rededicated to all saints. As the community was resilient to give up the twin saints popularly known as Kantheesangal, (syriac word kantheesangal means holy men) the missionaries found another twin saints from Milan – Saints Gervais and Prothasis who lived in AD 160-180 and were martyrs and renamed this church after them, but the name Kantheesangal continued. This seems that the people were tricked by installing a set of different twin saints in the same name Kantheesangal. This cross is similar to the smaller cross at Kottayam Valiyapally with pointed upper border but no inscriptions. The three steps are seen, the petal arrangement below the cross is identical to the smaller Kottayam cross. Four arms are equal in length and ends show the additional bud on the three button arrangement which is projecting into the raised border. The dove on the top is not very clear, it is small and can be interpreted as a flame or fire.

5 Muttuchira Cross.

This was found in Ruha’D Qudisha Forane Church, Muttuchira of the Syro Malabar Catholic church.
The history and details of this cross is well described on a granite slab in vattezhuthu which is lying neglected on the surrounding of the church!

This cross is similar in design to the smaller cross at Kottyam Valiyapalli and Kothanalloor crosses, but the border is not pointed, but rounded. There is no pillar or arch, the Pahlavi inscriptions are seen on the round edge.These inscriptions are seen partially mutilated raising the suspicion that it was also subject to destruction by authorities.
The design of the cross is similar to the Kothanalloor cross- equal arms, design of the petal arrangements below the cross, and the dove is inconspicuous, like a flame or fire.

The Muttuchira rock inscriptions in vattezhuthu tell us about installation of this cross in AD 1580 by Mar Simon, a Chaldean Bishop. It is not clear whether it was a re-erection of an old cross.

6 Alengadu Cross.

This is found near Saint Mary’s Forane Church at Alengadu, of the Syro Malabar Catholic church. This cross was abandoned and was lying like a mile stone. It was identified only in AD 1931 and is installed in a roadside chapel near the church.
This cross is similar to the smaller cross of Koottayam valiyapally. There is no arch and pillars. The border is pointed and there are Pahlavi inscription on the border. The dove is small and inconspicuous seen like a flame or fire.



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7 Kadamattom Cross.

This cross is found on the south wall of the altar of the Syrian Orthodox Church at Kadamattom. This cross is in a niche with two pillars and arch surrounding the cross. Pahlavi inscriptions are on the raised edge of the niche as in Mount Cross. The four arms are equal in length. The dove does not show definite anatomy of a bird, it could be a fire. The petal arrangement on the bottom of the cross is similar to Mount cross. The steps are clear. On the bottom of the niche, where we see the syriac inscriptions in Kottayam valiyapalli cross, there are five vertical lines seen as five small pillars. There is an oblique grove connecting the second and third lines making it like N, make it read as INRI, but the R is not clear. If it is INRI, it may be a later addition after the arrival of Portuguese.
8 Goa cross- Agassim cross

This was discovered by Fr Cosme Costa SFX, an archaeologist cum historian of the Pilar Society of Goa accidentally on 27th of April 2001. This was found in a mound of Rock in a thicket in the premises of Saint Peter’s chapel at Dandiin Agaism at the fag end of the old port of Gopakapattana. This was actually the base of granite cross of Latin design- plain cross- which had crumbled down around 1995 on a cyclonic storm and was neglected since then. This Persian cross was hidden inside the mound and had come out and was about to fall into the sea. This was a granite slab with a Persian cross similar to the Mount cross- the two pillars and the arch encircling the Persian cross in a niche carved in granite. The round edge of the upper part shows the same Pahlavi inscriptions. The cross is similar to mount cross with dove above, three steps and the petal arrangement as in mount cross, equal armed cross with ends like a bud.
There was a Portuguese inscription on the bottom of the niche. This cross was broken and only 4/5th of the cross were found. Hence half of the Pahlavi inscriptions are lost. The Portuguese inscriptions runs like this- ‘…A DE s.TOME…..DO R….ILEZ VS…..642…..’which has been interpreted as ‘A deS (Sao) Tome…do R(Regiao?) Ilez (Ilhas?) vs (Vizinhas?)…642(1642)’ It could be roughly translated as That which belongs to Saint Thomas’ (Christians?) from the region of (the neighbouring) islands (Tiswadi) 1642’
This cross is unique in that we can see the evidence that this Persian cross was destroyed and put in the mound and erected a Latin cross instead o the same site.(52)

Other crosses

8 Kaduthuruthy cross

Ths is seen on the baptismal font at Kaduthurythy valiyapalli. It is of 9th century AD. I have not seen this cross personally. The information is from Fr Jacob Kollamparambil’s article in the Christian orient.

9.Changanacherry Cross.

There are two crosses found at Changanacherry valiyapalli.
One at the open air rock cross and the other inside the oldest church, on the left side of the new church. The cross has four steps on the bottom, There is no figure of Jesus, and there is a dove on the top as descending down and on either sides, there are two doves kissing the ends of the cross.(53) There is a similar cross at Kottayam Cheriya palli also, on the front of the church, above the archdoor that opens into the portico. Here, instead of two doves on either side, we can see two pea****s on either side.
Above the larger cross of Kottayam valiyapalli also, we can see a similar design, with two pea****s on either side, but that is now hidden in the decorative wood work of the altar.

The story told by these Pahlavi crosses.

On detailed analysis, we can see that these Pahlavi crosses reveal a mine of very interesting information. It tells us the tradition of saint Thomas Christians and their veneration of Cross. It gives a hint that these crosses were present in the past and revived 6-7 th centuries by putting the Pahlavi inscriptions around it and made copies everywhere. It also tell us the story of Iconoclasm by the Portuguese.

The Pahlavi crosses at Mylappore and Kottyam were kept and venerated in the church. The Pahlavi crosses in Syro Malabar churches all were seen neglected or damaged- Kothanalloor hidden in the wall covered with plaster, Muttuchira seen mutilated, Alengadu seen neglected and thrown away and found on the wayside. Only those churches which after 1663, remained with the Jacobite Syrians or under Dutch or British control like that of Mylappore could preserve the Pahlavi crosses intact. (54)
It is evident that all these Pahlavi crosses in South India bear same inscriptions and there are evidences that these inscriptions are unintelligent copies. CPT Winkworth has done extensive research on these Pahlavi inscriptions and concludes that the Mount cross is the original one and the rest must be copies of it. (55) He found that all these crosses bear Pahlavi inscriptions but with minor differences in the letters and on careful study, found that these are unintelligent copies. He argues that a series of rubbings on paper arranged in the order to reproduce the inscriptions and while doing so, many characters were not reproduced correctly as the sculpture was illiterate in Pahlavi and many characters were mirror images as he used the reverse side of the paper or medium used for rubbings At one part, the letter was upside down. By his studies, he argues that the smaller Kottayam cross was a reasonably intelligent copy of the Mount cross, from which the larger Kottayam cross was copied and the Kadamattom cross was a very unintelligent copy of the Kottayam larger cross. This shows that by 8-9 centuries, our leaders tried to copy this cross and spread over to the whole community.

CPT Winkworth’s interpretation of the inscriptions suggest that the Mount Cross was re erected by the inscriber. His interpreted the inscriptions like this:- (56)

(a)‘ My Lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chaharbukht, the Syrian who cut this’

(b) My Lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chahrbukht, the Syrian who preserved this’

(c )My Lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of chahrbukht, the Syrian who put this around’
The interpretation (b) and (c) are amendments of (a) after studying the inscriptions on all replicas of these crosses well, analysing more clear pictures and discussing with other scholars in an international meeting which included scholars from Iran also.

On analysing the inscription itself, we can assume that these inscriptions were entered by Afras, son of Chaharbukht, the Syrian. It also says, Afras has preserved this/put it around. That means, the cross without any inscriptions was already there, and Afras found it and preserved it- put it up. Putting an inscription around a cross is not a meritorious act, but setting up a cross or preserving a neglected cross is definitely a meritorious act. (57) This raises the possibility that the Mount cross was found by Afras and he preserved it in AD 650 period.

Famous Malabar Historian T K Joseph argues that ‘it may justify the supposition that the cross without inscriptions had been in existence on the Coromandel coast prior to the time of Mar Sabour Afroath who arrived in AD 825. We may also presume that on his visit from Quilon to the Mailappore tomb of Saint Thomas and the mount church or its ruins, Afras found the cross in a neglected condition and preserved it’. (58) Then he or the Christians of Malabar made copies of it in Malabar and that became our tradition from AD 825 onwards until the Portuguese found and witnessed the ‘Cross of saint Thomas’ in our churches.

Other interpretations.(59)

Several scholars have interpreted the Pahlavi inscriptions on these crosses. Burnell was the first scholar who interpreted the inscriptions.

A C Burnell- ‘In punishment by the cross (was) the sufferings of this one. Who is the true Christ and God above and guide ever pure.’

Martin Haug ‘He who believes in the messiah and in God on high and also in the Holy Ghost is in the grace of Him who bore the pain of the cross’

E M West- (a) ‘what freed the true Messiah, the forgiving, the upraising from hardships
(b)He whom the sufferings of the self same messiah, the forgiving and upraising, has saved is offering the plea whose origin was the agony of this’

Harlez- ‘He who is the true messiah the reconciler, the resuscitator, for ever punished by virtue of the crucifixion’

Sanjana- (a) Such was the affliction of the wounding and spearing of him on the cross who was the faithful messiah is forgiver of superior dignity , the descendant of Chaharbukt’
(b) Messiah the merciful one, the descendant of the Great Abraham who was the descendant of Chahar bukht’
(c ) ‘He , of whom the faithful messiah was a foregiver was highly exalted. He was redeemed frommthe four regions of hell. This was due to the afflictions of the spearing and wounding of the messiah on the cross’
(d) ‘This was the affliction on the cross even of the messiah of jehova’

Modi- ‘ I, a beautiful bird from Nineveh, have come to this country . Written Mar Shapor I whom the Holy messiah the forgiver freed from the thorn’

CPT Winkworth- (a)‘ My Lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chaharbukht, the Syrian who cut this’

(b) My Lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chahrbukht, the Syrian who preserved this’

(c )My Lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of chahrbukht, the Syrian who put this around’

Gerd Gropp- ‘may our Lord the messiah have mercy on Gabriel, son of Chaharbukht, grandson of Durzad, who made this’ (60)

May our Lord, the messiah have mercy on Sabriso, son of Caharboxt the deft, who sculpted this’ (61)



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Saint Thomas Crosses are really inculturated Crosses of Saint Thomas Christians of Malabar and is the Religio cultural logo of the authentic Saint Thomas Christians. This glorious Cross is the living sign of Jesus’ victory over death, sin and sufferings. It is a symbol of risen Jesus. It denotes the tree of life, stem of Jesse, staff of comfort(Holy Spirit), Ark of Noah(Church), sign of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and that of Christian perfection- sum total of old and new testaments.

It is not a statue. It is a symbol of our tradition. Let us pray our Lord to guide us to keep the Apostolic experience of Christ received in our cultural milieu to pass over to our future generations and to become the authentic witness of our Apostolic heritage and the catholicity of the universal Church. (62)


Photograph of Agassim cross is taken from the book ‘Apostolic Christianity in Goa and in the west coast’ . Thanks to Rev. Fr. Cosme Jose Costa for permission to use the image in this article.

The Title picture of Saint Thomas Cross and illustrations of lotus, cross and dove are taken from Mar Thoma Sliba wall calendar published by Denha Services. Thanks to Rev. Dr. Varghese Pathikulangara for permission to use those images in the article.


1.Catholic encyclopaedia, Archaeology of Cross and Crucifix, accessed 10/10/2010

2. George Nedungatt, A Quest for the Historical Thomas Apostle of India, a rereading of Evidence,Theological publications in India, Bangalore, p 346

3 Wikipedia article about swasthika- archived on 11/09/2010.


5. G Nedungatt, Quest for the Historical Thomas Apostle of India, a rereading of evidence, 2008, Theological Publications in India, Bangalore, p346

6.G Nedungattu, A Quest for the Historical Thomas Apostle of India, a rereading of Evidence,Theological publications in India, Bangalore p387

7.Jacob Kollamparambil, The Persian Crosses in India are Christian, not Manichaen, Christian Orient, March 1994, p 29 citing Abdisho of Soba, Liber argaritae, tract IV, ch I and Tract T , ch 2

8.E Yarshater, The Cambridge History of Iran III, 2 Cambridge, 1983, p929, E E Herzfeld, Archaeological History of iran, London, 1930, pp 103-104, cited by Jacob Kollamparambil, The Persian Crosses in India are Christian, not Manichaen, Christian Orient, March 1994, p 30

9.Jacob Kollamparambil, The Persian Crosses in India are Christian, not Manichaen, Christian Orient, March 1994 p 30

10 H Hosten, Antiquities from San Thome and Mylappore,1936 pp474, 477-478, 484 , cited by John F Butler, The iconography of the ancient South Indian incised Crosses, Indian Church History Review,Vol VIII, No 2, 1969 p87

11. T P Elias, East Syrian Missions to Asia with special reference to Malabar coast from sixth century to sixteenth century AD and its influence on Indian religious Society and Culture, Thesis submitted to the degree of Ph D in Syriac studies, Mahatma Gandhi University, India, p200

12 T P Elias, East Syrian Missions to Asia with special reference to Malabar coast from sixth century to sixteenth century AD and its influence on Indian religious Society and Culture, Thesis submitted to the degree of Ph D in Syriac studies, mahatma Gandhi University, India, p146

)13. T P Elias, East Syrian Missions to Asia with special reference to Malabar coast from sixth century to sixteenth century AD and its influence on Indian religious Society and Culture, Thesis submitted to the degree of Ph D in Syriac studies, mahatma Gandhi University, India,pp154

14.KSP seriers 5 p 237 H Hosten

15 Kerala Society Papers, series 5, Trivandrum, 1929, p 237

16 Gunnar Myhlman, The hidden string between the Indus valley bead culture and the Buddhist bead culture,

17 Jornada of Alexis De Menesis: A Portuguse Account of the Sixteenth Century Malabar, Ed. Dr. Pius Malekandathil, LRC Publications, Cochin, 2003, p244-245

18 Jornada of Alexis De Menesis: A Portuguese Account of the Sixteenth Century Malabar, Ed. Dr. Pius Malekandathil, LRC Publications, Cochin, 2003, foot note p 245

19 Duarte Barbosa, A description of the coasts of East Africa and Malabar in the beginning of Sixteenth century, p 162

20Duarte Barbosa, , A description of the coasts of East Africa and Malabar in the beginning of Sixteenth century p 163

21 Antony Vallavanthara, India in 1500 AD, Gorgias Press, pp166-167, 231

22 Jacob Kollamparambil, The Persian Crosses in India are Christian, not manichaen, Christian Orient, March 1994, p 30

23 Joseph Perumthottam, Circular 10 Ch 67-114, Vedaprachara Madhyasthan, September 2010, p7

24 Joseph Perumthottam, Circular 10 Ch 67-114, Vedaprachara madhyasthan, September 2010, p5


26 Eckerhard Bickelmann, The saint Thomas Cross, An early example of the inculturation of Christian art in india, Indian Church History Review, Vol IV, No 2 1970p66, John F Butler, Further thoughts on South Indian Crosses, Indian Church History Review, Vol IV, No 2, p74

27 John F Butler, Further thoughts on South Indian Crosses, Indian Church History Review, Vol IV, No 2, p75

28 Professor Dr D W Gensichen, Indian Church History Review, Vol IV, No 1 June 1970, p3 cited by John F Butler, Further thoughts on South Indian Crosses, ICHR, IV, No 2 p 76

29 John F butler, Further thoughts on the South Indian Crosses, Indian Church History Review, Vol IV, No 2 1970, p73

30 Varghese Pathikulangara, Mar Thoma Sleeva wall calendar, Denha Services, 2006

31 C Sivarama Murti, Indian, Kunst and Kultur, Frielberg, 1975 cited by Eckehard Bickelmann, The saint Thomas Cross, an early example of the inculturation of Christian art in India, Indian Church History review, Vol IV No 2 p64

32 Persy Brown, Indian Archetecture, Budhist and Hindu periods, 6th edition, Bombay, 1971, pp 73-77, cited by Eckerhard Eckehard Bickelmann, The saint Thomas Cross, an early example of the inculturation of Christian art in india, Indian Church History review, Vol IV No 2 p64-65

33 Eckehard Bickelmann, The Saint Thomas Cross, an early example of the inculturation of Christian art in India, Indian Church History review, Vol IV No 2 p64

34 A C Burnell, On some Pahlavi inscriptions in South India, Indian Antiquary, November 1874, p314

35 Richard Collins, Manichaens on the Malabar coast, Indian Antiquary, May 1875, pp153-155

36 Jacob Kollamparambil, Persian crosses in India are Christian, not Manichaen,Christian orient, March 1994, pp24-35

37 ( Jacob Kollamparambil, Persian crosses in India are Christian, not Manichaen Christian Orient, March 1994, citing W G Young, Patriarch, Shah and caliph, 1974 Rawalpindi, pp 41-44, 98-99

38 (Jacob Kollamparambil, Persian crosses in India are Christian, not Manichaen Christian Orient p 29

39 Richard N Fyre, Bahraine under the Sassanians, in Daniel Potts, Ed. Dilmun: New Studies in the Archaeology and early History of Bahrain, Berlin, 1983, p 169, cited by P Malekkandathil, Saint Thomas Christians; A Historical analysis of their origin and development upto 9th century AD , in Saint Thomas Christians, Nambudiris Jews and Sangam literature, Ed Bosco Puthur, LRC Publications, Cochin, 2006p 42

40 Pius Malekkandathil, Saint Thomas Christians; A Historical analysis of their origin and development upto 9th century AD , in Saint Thomas Christians, Nambudiris Jews and Sangam literature, Ed Bosco Puthur, LRC Publications, Cochin, 2006 p42 citing Gerd Gropp, Christian maritime trade of Sassanian age in the Persian gulf, p 85 and E schau, Vom Christentum in der Persis, pp 960 ff

41 Pius Malekkandathil, Saint Thomas Christians; A Historical analysis of their origin and development upto 9th century AD , in Saint Thomas Christians, Nambudiris Jews and Sangam literature, Ed Bosco Puthur, LRC Publications, Cochin, 2006, p;41 citing Gerd Gropp, Christian Maritime Trade of Sasanian age in the Persian Gulf, p 85, E Schau, Von Christnetum in der Persia, in Sitzungsberichte Preubischen Akademie der Wissenschdften, Berlin, 1916, p 965

42 Pius Malekkandathil Saint Thomas Christians; A Historical analysis of their origin and development upto 9th century AD , in Saint Thomas Christians, Nambudiris Jews and Sangam literature, Ed Bosco Puthur, LRC Publications, Cochin, 2006p 41-42, citing O Braun, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium: Scrtptores Syri, Ii p 252; B E Colles, Persian Merchants and Missionaries, pp 20-21. Medleycote also quotes Assemani, a letter of Jesuab of Adiabene Patriarch of the Nestorians, a.d.650-660( Assemani, Bibilotheca orientalis) in which he mentions Kalah as the extreme eastern terminus of his jurisdiction in the direction of India and beyond India proper.

43 Pius Malekkandathil, Saint Thomas Christians; A Historical analysis of their origin and development upto 9th century AD , in Saint Thomas Christians, Nambudiris Jews and Sangam literature, Ed Bosco Puthur, LRC Publications, Cochin, 2006, p 43

44 Jacob Kollamparambil, The Persian Crosses inn India are Christian, not Manichaen, in Christian Orient, March 1994, p 34-35, citing G Widengren, Mani and Manichaeism, New York, 1965, pp41-42 and K Rudolph, Gnosis, pp330-331.

45 G Nedungatt, Quest for Historic Thomas Apostle of India, pp386-387.

46 AE Medleycot, Apostle Thomas, pp69- 73

47 Antony Vallavanthara, India in 1500 AD Gorgias Press, pp214-215 and 259

48 Duarte Barbosa, A description of the coasts of East Africa and Malabar in the beginning of Sixteenth century, Hakluyt Society, London, 1865, pp160-161, 174-175

49 Kerala Society Papers, TK Joseph, Series II 9 p 215

50 Joseph Vazhuthanapalli, Archaeology of mar Sliba, p17

51 Joseph Vazhuthanapalli, The archaeology of Mar Sliba p16

52 Rev Fr Cosme Jose Costa, Apostolic Christianity in Goa and in the west coast, pp75-80

53 Joseph vazhuthanappalli, Archaeology of mar Sliba, pp13-14

54 Cosme Jose Costa, Apostolic chritianity in Goa and in the west coast, p88

55 Kerala Society Papers, Series 3, A new interpretation of the Pahlavi cross inscriptions of South India, p159

56 Kerala Society Papers, Series 3, A new interpretation of the Pahlavi cross inscriptions of South India, p159

57 T K Joseph, Kerala Society Papers series 5 pp269-70

58 T K Joseph, Kerala Society papers series 5 pp269-270

59 Joseph vazhuthanappalli, Archaelogy of Mar Sliba, pp10-11, Kerala Society papers, p269

60 Gerd Gropp, Die Pahlavi inschrift auf dem Thomaskreus in madras” Archaologisches Mitteilungen aus Iran, NF 3, 1970, pp267-271 cited by G Nedungattu, p386

61 Ph Gignoux, “The Pahlavi inscriptions on Mount Saint Thomas Cross, South India”, Solving Riddles and untying knots: Biblical Epigraphic and Semitic studiesin Honour of J C Greenfield, Eisenbrauns, 1995,pp 411-422, cited by G Nedungattu, p386

62 Mar Joseph Powathil, Church as a tradition, in ‘Church in its most basic elements’ Ed Paul pallath, Herder, Rome, 1995, pp 91-107.



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Kodungalloor Cross

The so called Kodungalloor Cross described by Gouvea in AD 1606 was erected in the city. Gouvea talks about a Church which belongs to the fort at that time and comments that it was the church that the Christians had in olden times. He says, the Christians had a lot of affection for this church as well as a cross in the same city, the cross of Christians. He describes, the cross has been kept in the middle of a chapel which is open on one side with railings. Arch Bishop Menesis celebrated a solemn mass in this chapel on his visit to the city. Gouvea also witnesses that the gentiles also had a lot of affection for it. He describes that the gentile king, when he lost something precious, sent some oil to this cross and he found the lost thing. This shows that there was facility for burning oil in front of this cross. Was this an open air Rock Cross with facility to burn oil? .
Kottayam Valiyapalli was founded in AD 1550 as per the tradition of the church. It seems that Christians from Kodungalloor had to migrate to south in the early 16th century because of the power struggle between Portuguese and the Muslims. As I have mentioned in the comment on 13/10/2010, Southists took their cross from Kodungalloor and migrated to Kaduthuruthy and later to Kottayam valiyapalli and erected the cross in the altar. Fr Kollamparambil writes ‘ The Kottayam Crosses are said to have been brought from Cranganore via Kaduthuruthy.The crosses were taken from Cranganore probably in AD 1524, when in a war with the King of Cranganore, Samoothiri of Calicut assisted by Muslim soldiers conquered, sacked and destroyed Cranganore. All the three churches of Cranganore- Saint Mary’s, Saint Thomas’ and saint Kuriackose’s were burned down. The Christians fled with the valuable relics they could take with them’. Fr Kollamparabil in Christian Orient March 1994,quoting Mundadan, The arrival of Portuguese in India and the Thomas Christians under Mar Jacob, pp99-100.
Fr Kollamparambil says, the crosses were first brought to Kaduthuruthy and in 1550, they were moved to Kottayam due to another war between the King of Wadakkumkoor and the King of Cochin helped by the Portuguese where the King of Wadakkumkoor was killed by Portuguese commander Francesco Silveira de Menesis. The Wadakkumkoor army then formed chaver squads- suicide squads-attacked and killed the Saint Thomas Christians, the co religionists of the murderer.(Fr Kollamparambil in Christian orient March 1994 quoting C J Wicki, Documenta Indiaca, Vol III 796, G Schurhammer, Die Zeitgenossischen Quellenzur Geschichte Portugiesisch- Asiens, Rome, 1962, No 4530) .
Fr Kollamparambil refers to the traditional songs of the Southist community like Kottayam valiyapalli paattukal to support this argument.
It looks like the Cranganore Cross described by Gouvea is not one of the Kottayam valiyapalli crosses. It may be destroyed or hidden after the Coonan Cross oath. People who know Kodungalloor may be able to locate its site.



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Author : Dr. M Thomas Antony
The ancient Christians of the Malabar Coast of India are known as the Saint Thomas Christians. They are also known locally as 'The Nasranis'. They were ecclesiastically connected to the Church of the East, also known as the East Syrian Church which at its peak extended from Mesopotamia to China through Arabia, India and Central Asia.. The Eastern Church was separated from the rest of the Christendom from time of  the Synod of Ephesus. This was mainly due to political reasons but  doctrinal differences like 'Nestorianism' was also accused on the Eastern Church. The so called 'Nestorianism' seems to be a misunderstanding due to the expression of the faith using certain ambiguous terms in the Greek language. Dr Adrian Fortescue writes ‘we saw that Greek words used in the Nestorian controversy are sometimes ambiguous and add to the confusion by the fact that we are not always sure what the people who use them mean .’  With the works of Babai, the Great of 6th century[ii] and  the visit of Patriarch Ishoyahb II (628-643 AD) to Antioch in the 7th century[iii], the doctrinal differences became  reconciled, but due to geographical and political reasons, the Church of the East continued to be alienated from the rest of the Christendom.

Interference with the Christianity of the West
With the Crusades in the medieval period, the Churches in the East caught attention of  the Religio political interests of the European Christianity.  Missionaries from the Europe were sent to Babylon and the rest of the East. Their tactic was to begin a friendly relationship with the native Churches and then subjugate them. This resulted in divisions and revolts.  Eventually, in Babylon, the Church of the East( The East Syrian Church) was divided into the Chaldean and Assyrian Churches whereas in Malabar, India, the Church of Saint Thomas Christians divided into several fragments due to the interference of multiple colonial forces.
The ancient Church at Muttuchira in South India  portrays certain landmark monuments describing the early friendly phase and the  later subjugation phase of these relationship- the Muttuchira inscriptions and the Muttuchira Sliva.


Muttuchira is a village in the Kottayam Districtlocated  in the South Indian State of Kerala. Muttuchira was called Nayappalli  in ancient records[iv]. According to local tradition, the Christian settlement of Muttuchira was established in the sixth century.[v] Antonio Gouvea, the Portuguese traveller who accompanied Alexis De Menezes, the Archbishop of Goa, documented  Menezes’ visit of  Muttuchira in AD 1599. Gouvea used the term Nayapili to denote Muttuchira.[vi]  In the British Museum Sloanne MS 9907, probably written in around 1676 AD, mentions Muttuchira Church as "the Church of 'Spiritu Sancto' (Latin word for Holy Spirit) with the following villages and bazars annexed: Coddi heli, Param poram, Perium paddy, Tanara chera, Cheri Omellur, May mure, Nin dure , Herle nelha cara"[vii].
These places have been identified as  Kulavely, Parampram, Thiruvanpady, Thamarachira, Cheriomelloor, Memury, Neendoor,  and Eravimamngalakkara[viii].
Johannes Facundus Raulin[ix] in 1740s in his book 'Historia Ecclesia Malabaricae'  uses the term Muttieri. Anquetil Du Perron, a French Scholar and Orientalist  in January 1758, mentions about the Catholic church of Holy Ghost at Muttiera and its oratory of Saint Sebastian had been burnt by the Raja of Travancore[x]. Local tradition mentions that  the Church was attacked by the parchave or Padshaw.  Paulinus De Bartholomew, an Austrian Missionary and an orientalist who was in Kerala during  1774-1789 period also mentions about the Holy Ghost Church of Muttiera and the oratory of Saint Sebastian.[xi]

The Churches of Muttuchira.

Muttuchira village has several churches. The main church of Muttuchira, the Ruha D’Qudisha  Forane Church compound has two church buildings face to face with the Open air Rock Cross in the middle. The Church on the western side of the open air Cross is the main church now. It was built in AD 1854-58 (Kollam Era 1930-1033)[xii] when Rev Fr Kurian Parampil was the vicar.(1859-85).[xiii] The Church on the eastern side is the old church which was also called Ruha D' Qudisha church but later, in AD 1925, it was renamed as Church of Saint Francis of Assissi. It was from this church, the Pahlavi inscribed Granite Cross was discovered in AD 1923 during  renovation. This Church was probably built in AD 1528 by Mar Denha and Mar Jacob Abuna (Mar Avu) based on the Muttuchira Lithic inscriptions.
Another Church located on north side of the road is called 'karottu church'- Church of Saint Sebastian, also called 'prasu palli' with a small open air Rock Cross in front. A little away on the eastern side of all these Churches, there is an ancient open air Rock cross and a Chapel of Saint Anthony. There was an ancient Church in the same location dedicated to Mar Sliva ( Holy Cross).
There is a Chapel of Saint Teresa on the western side of the main church complex near the road.
Muttuchira Church is historically important. Archdeacon Jacob of Muttuchira was a native of Muttuchira and was based in this church until his death. He was buried in the Church of Saint Francis of Assissi. He was appointed as Archdeacon by Mar Simon, the  Chaldean Bishop who arrived in Malabar in  1576 AD[xiv] during the time of Mar Abraham, as a rival. Mar Simon was sent to Rome but Archdeacon Jacob had followers until his death in 1596.[xv]
Bishop Chandy Parambil (Palliveettil Chandy Metran) celebrated his first Pontifical Mass at Muttuchira Church in AD 1663.[xvi] Saint Alphonsa of India spent her early years in Muttuchira parish[xvii]. Saint Alphonsa of India was brought up in her mother's house, the  Muricken family  of  Muttuchira.
Archdeacon Jacob of Muttuchira.

In 1576 AD, Mar Simon, a Bishop from Babylon arrived in Kerala[xviii] as a rival to Mar Abraham, the Chaldean Catholic Bishop who was in Kerala already[xix].Mar Simon was based at Kaduthuruthy and caused a schism among the Thomas Christians. As Mar Abraham had already made certain latinisations, many Christians followed Mar Simon. Two Franciscan Missionaries who  arrived from Malacca and Macao in 1583 AD,  tactically collaborated with Mar Simon and  sent him  to Rome[xx]. It has been documented that Mar Simon, accompanied by a Franciscan missionary arrived in Rome in December 1584[xxi]. He was sent to Lisbon and kept in a Franciscan Friary and died in 1599AD[xxii]. Before he left to Rome, Mar Simon appointed Cathanar Jacob of Muttuchira as his Archdeacon. Cathanar Jacob was of Nadackal family[xxiii]. It was this Cathanar Jacob who built the old Church of Ruha D' Qudisha which was renamed as the Church of Saint Francis of Assissi and the Church of Saint Sebastian in Muttuchira.
Paul J Madathil, a local journalist during the period 1925 AD gives a different version, based on the local tradition that Fr Jacob, who was an administrator of a diocese in France or Portugal built these churches. It has to be noted that even when Mar Simon was in custody in Portugal, he was in constant touch with Cathanar Jacob through letters in which Mar Simon styled himself as the Metropolitan of India[xxiv]. Archdeacon Jacob maintained his authority even when Mar Simon was in Lisbon. He refused to accept the Gregorian Calendar, taught his followers to recite the Chaldean Divine Office, consecrated altars, chalices etc[xxv]. Thus, Cathanar Jacob was an Archdeacon/administrator of Mar Simon who was in Lisbon and received regular letters and instructions from Lisbon. This might be the reason why people later assumed  that he was an Archdeacon/administrator of a Bishop/diocese in Portugal.
Archdeacon Jacob refused to accept Mar Abraham and continued his activities to uphold the Chaldean way of life. Archbishop Menezes wrote to him that Mar Simon has been convicted in Rome and not in his orders now, asking Archdeacon Jacob to submit to the Papal authority and even offered large promises and favours.[xxvi] Archdeacon Jacob died in AD 1596.[xxvii]
Paul J Madathil,  based on the local traditions, comments  that Cathanaar Jacob built the Saint Sebastian's Church- the Prasu Church of Muttuchira and   rebuilt the old Church of Ruha D' Qudisha (the Church of Saint Francis of Assissi). Besides, he also built Churches at Kothanalloor, Elanji, and another local Church. Paul J Madathil also confirms the local tradition that Cathanar Jacob was buried in the Church of Saint Francis of Assissi. This information has been confirmed by Mr Karottu C George, a local historian and a Headmaster at Muttuchira in 1925 AD.[xxviii]


Muttuchira Lithic inscriptions.

Muttuchira lithic inscriptions are  early Malayalam inscriptions- Vattezhuthu- Nanam Monum- on a granite tablet found in Muttuchira. The 'Muttuchira inscriptions' are inscriptions  narrating about the installation of  the free standing Cross and the Pahlavi inscribed bas relief cross-The 'Muttuchira Sliva'. The inscriptions are on a rectangular granite slab in two sections divided by a vertical line in between. According to Mr T K Joseph[xxix], this inscription must be of AD1581 or later. This tablet has been the subject of extensive research by many scholars. This granite slab  was found  on the western wall of the ground floor room of the two storey building attached to the northern side of the old Church of the Holy Ghost. The upper story was used as the Priest's Home and the ground floor was used as the sacristy.[xxx] 



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T K Joseph.

Mr T K Joseph was an eminent historian and was the Secretary of the Kerala Society that was formed modelled on the Royal Asiatic Society.

Mr T K Joseph examined the inscription on 25 September 1929.[xxxi] The left half of the inscription reads-maaran echo michiyha perannittu 1528 math ee nelathu chuddamana tiliva niruthi, thampurante kalpanayal mar thana mar avu  kee varukeethu pirathiyum kooda. Ithinte chezham porathukal desathu poyi thante marumagan mathai pathiriyum kooda.

The right half reads- Michiyha pirannittu 1580 matham kanni njyar 13 nu  mar thilivayude perunnaalku ee mar thiliva edutha marathil pothinju niruthi, mar chemayon methranum pathiri yakobum. kaalam ithu 18 am nu perunnalkku ee uthira kurishu vachu. 1581 matham meenam njayar 19 am nu thukka velli azhcha naal ikaringal thiliva niruthi.

The translation of the left half 

By the command of the Thamburan (King  of Kaduthuruthy ? Or is it the Lord Almighty ?) in AD 1528 Mar Thana (Mar Denha) and Mar Avu  alongwith Giwargis Padre, installed this Holy Cross in this place. After this, Giwargis padre went to Portugal alongwith his nephew Mathai padre. (In AD 1580,  kanni 13 sunday, on the day of the feast of Holy Cross, this mar Sliba was erected  covered in wood (?), by Bishop Mar Simon and Jacob Padre. Same year, on the day of 18th  on the day of the feast, this bleeding Cross was installed. AD 1581 meenam month on the 29th friday good friday, this granite Cross was installed.)

Translation of the right half

On September 13(a syrian date), 1580 AD on the feast of the Holy Cross, this Holy Cross was installed, covered with wood and set up by Bishop Mar Simon and Father Jacob. The same year, on the feast of the 18th (Dec 18th) this bleeding Cross (resembling the bleeding Cross of Mailapore) was installed. This granite Cross was set up on Good Friday, 29th March 1581.

Mr A S Ramanatha Ayyar, the Superintendent of Archaeology, Tranvancore State.

First section.
Line 1:                         Maaron Eecho Mishi
Line 2:                         yha perannitte 152
Line 3:                         8 maathe ee nelathu shudda
Line 4:                         m ana thiliva iru
Line 5:                         thi thampurante kalp
Line 6:                         anayal Maar Thana Mara        
Line 7:                         yuu keevarkeethu miruthi
Line 8:                         yum kooda ithin
Line 9:                         nte chelam porthakaal
Line10:                        thesathu poo(y) thante
Line 11:                       marumakan mathaai paa
Line 12:                       thiriyum kooda

Second section

Line 1:                         Michiyha perannittu 1
Line 2:                         580 mathe kanni njayir
Line 3:                         13 thiyati maru tilivaade
Line 4:                         perunnaalkke ee maar thili
Line 5:                         va eduthu manthil(marthil) po
Line 6:                         tinje niruthi maru chema
Line 7:                         on mettharanum pati
Line 8:                         ri Yakkobum + kanni
Line 9:                         te 18 thiyati perunnaalke ee
Line 10:                       thara kuriche vechchu + 15
Line11:                        81 mathe mina njayar 2
Line 12:                       9 thiyati tukkavelli alch
Line 13:                       cha naal ee kkaringal tiliva
Line 14:                       niruthi  

This is almost as read by Mr T K Joseph. 

The translation of first half:

In AD 1528, a Holy Cross was installed on this land by Mar Thana, Mar Avoo and Geevarghese miruthi (? pathiri) with the order of the Lord. After this, along with his nephew Mathai pathiri, he went to Portugal.

Second half : 

AD 1580 in the month Kanni 13 th Sunday, on the day of the feast of Holy Cross, this Holy Cross was erected covered with (wood ? sand?).by Bishop Mar Simon and padre Yakkob.
 On kanni 18th on the day of the feast, installed this thara cross ? Uthira kurisu- bleeding Cross.
In 1581 in the month meenam 29th on the day of Good Friday, installed this granite Cross.
This granite slab inscriptions talk about events that happened in AD 1528 along with 1580 and 1581. We can understand that in AD 1528, a cross was installed on the ground by two Bishops Mar Denha and Probably Mar (Jacob) Abuna[xxxii] along with Geevarghese, with the order of the Lord ? King ?  God ? ( All the celebrations of the Thomas Christians begin with the phrase- 'With the order of the Lord Isho Mishiha'- example- Pukdanakon- Pukdane da Mishiha in the Holy Qurbana, similar phrases are seen in the order of marriage also). This could be similar, with the order of our Lord, this Cross was placed in this land by Mar Denha and Mar Aboona, along with Geevarghese, who left for Portugal with his nephew Mathai pathiri. This could mean that they blessed the land in preparation to build a church there. They might have received permission from the local King.
The term pathiri used here is very interesting, as at such an early period of contact with the Portuguese, did the Saint Thomas Christians use the term Padre instead of the traditional term Cathanaar ? Was this Geevargese a foreign padre ? If he was a foreign padre, then his name would have been George rather than Geevarghese, a rather syriac name. Or, what we are reading as pathiri could be something else. The travel to Portugal means the Saint Thomas Christian community was in good friendship with the Portuguese Missionaries. 

The second half is about events in AD 1580-81 period. In Line 1-6, it says, on Kanni 13 Sunday, on the day of the feast of the Holy Cross, this Holy Cross was erected and covered with wood ? sand- (marathil-manthil). Or is it something else that we read as marathil/ manthil ? Is it talking about placing the Pahlavi inscribed Cross on a wooden frame ? or it may mean that the Pahlavi cross was covered with the new wooden 'raredos' (rathaal) which was taken down in AD 1923 when the Sliva was rediscovered.

Line 6-8 talks about presence of Bishop Mar Simon and Yakkob. We know that Mar Simon in AD 1581 was the Chaldean Bishop who arrived in AD 1576 as a rival to Mar Abraham. His Archdeacon was Cathanar Jacob, who was a native of Muttuchira. We have to assume that this part of the inscription is talking about Mar Simon and Archdeacon Jacob of Muttuchira.

Lines 8-14 :On Kanniite 18- could be a Syriac month for December 18- on the day of the feast of Holy Cross, installed this thara kurichu. (There are a few interpretations for this ee thara kurishu. Initially it was considered thara- metal, or pithala- brass or chithra- ornamental. The researchers initially thought it was mentioning about the bell metal cross of Muttuchira. But later, Mr T K Joseph came up with the reading uthira kurishu meaning ruthira kurishu- bleeding cross.). It has to be noted that, here, instead of Tiliva (Sliva) as used before, the inscribers are using the word 'kurish' which came from Portuguese language. The inscribers have used both 'Sliva' and 'kurish' here.
This slab is a very important monument  in the Nasrani history. It narrates the installation the crosses in Muttuchira, both the free standing granite cross and the uthira kurishu- replica of bleeding cross- the Saint Thomas Cross. This is agreeing with the witnesses of early Portuguese writers and other sources that the Mar Thoma Sliva was the only religious symbol adorned in the altars of our Churches before the arrival of the Portuguese Missionaries. It shows a number of points to show a close collaboration with the foreign missionaries- usage of the word cross instead of Sliva, usage of the word padre instead of cathanaar, and the event of two Priests travelling to Portugal. These denote the friendly phase of the relation of Saint Thomas Christians with the Western Missionaries.


Muttuchira Sliva.

An ancient Pahlavi inscribed granite Cross was discovered at Muttuchira Church in AD 1923. This  was a granite tablet with a 'bas relief' Cross and resembles the 'miraculous Cross of Mailapore'  in the design, with a round arch and the steps and a floral arrangement in the bottom like a lotus and a descending dove on the top but unlike the Mailapore Cross, it has no pillars or dolphins on the sides. It is about 2 feet 8 inches in length with 2 feet wide and about 5 inches in thickness. There found on the outer edge, inscriptions in two lines that  had been mutilated and a few letters are visible on the left side for about 24 inches in length. The outer line of inscription has been confirmed as Pahlavi as in all the rest of the Pahlavi inscribed crosses of South India- the 'Mar Thoma Sliva'. The inner line of inscriptions are illegible.[xxxiii] They could be ornamentations rather than inscriptions.

The inscriptions on Muttuchira Sliva.

The Muttuchira Sliva bears Pahlavi inscriptions around the round arch edge on a narrow belt. But the belt of the tablet on which the inscriptions were made was badly mutilated but only a a length of 24 inches from the left upright limb escaped the damage.[xxxiv] There is another smaller belt runs inside this outer belt with some illegible inscriptions. Mr B T Anklesaria identified this inscription also as Pahlavi and deciphered the inner inscription as 'Lord Messiah the supreme...' while  the outer inscription as similar to the rest of the Pahlavi inscribed Crosses of South India[xxxv]. Professor F C Burkitt of the Cambridge University comments that the outer inscription that remains reads as "The Syrian who cut this". Professor Burkitt also comments that the inner inscription could be Syriac but due to the mutilation of the stone and reading from a photograph, he could not confirm anything[xxxvi].  

Systematic mutilation of the inscriptions ?

On the rediscovery of this 'sliva' in 1923 AD, Paul Madathil wrote that at the time the wooden 'raredos' (rathaal)was pulled down, only not more than one span of the inscription was damaged.[xxxvii]
H Hosten  commented about this as follows. "If only one span was damaged, it would follow that the rest of the damage was carried out systematically with a view to do away with the inscription and the decoration at the foot. It will be an evil day for Malabar Archaeology and history when such methods can be considered proper, whatever the intension may be or the cause to be benefitted. The cause to be benefitted might be the theory of Nestorianism....[xxxviii]"
Discovery of the Sliva.

The accidental discovery of this Cross was reported by  eminent personalities of the  time like Mr A S Ramanatha Iyyer, Superintendent of Archaeology, State of Travancore[xxxix], Mr T K Joseph[xl] an eminent historian, Mr Paul Madathil[xli], a local journalist, Rev Fr Jacob Murickan, a former Vicar of the Ruha D' Qudisha Forane Church at Muttuchira,  Rev Fr. Joseph Pediyekkal[xlii] who was the vicar of the Church in Athirampuzha and former Vicar of Muttuchira Church 1912-1915, Mr V C George[xliii], a local historian, Mr Karottu C George of Muttuchira-Malayalam novelist and a Headmaster at Muttuchira.,  Mr George P Murickel[xliv], a local historian and journalist.

Mr Paul Madathil who had written an article in the local vernacular news paper, reported a detailed account of the discovery. The Cross was found in the old Church which was dedicated to Ruha D' Qudisha, being renovated and rededicated to Saint Francis of Assissi in AD 1925 period.  This old church is still present dedicated to Saint Francis of Assissi in front of the main Church opposite to the open air rock cross situated east to west with the altar on the east end.

The old Church  stood east west with the 'madbaha' (altar) on the east. It had three 'madbahas', a central main altar and two side altars. The Pahlavi inscribed cross was found built into the wall of the northern altar at a height of about 7 feet from the floor, when the wooden 'raredos' (rathaal) was taken down as part of renovation. The 'raredos' was built over a wooden frame covering the Pahlavi inscribed cross. This may be what the Muttuchira Lithic inscription of AD 1580 describes as 'marathil pothinju' meaning covered with wood.

Rev Fr. Joseph Peediyekkal, a former vicar of Muttuchira Church (1912-1915), reported that "The Persian Cross is said to have been covered over by a wooden framework. It was on this framework, an altar was erected and thus the cross lay buried for many years under the altar wall, till it was recently discovered on the occasion of the rebuilding of the Church"[xlv].

Mr A S Ramanatha Iyyer, the then Superintendent of Archaeology of the State of Travancore  visited the Church on learning about this discovery, reported in Travancore Archaeological Series that " I was told that this church was originally called the Church of the Holy Ghost (Syriac Ruha D' Qudisha) and that it was proposed to rechristen it on completion (of renovation) as the Church of Saint Francis of Assissi. The tablet Cross (Pahlavi inscribed bas relief cross on granite) appears to have been brought hither from centuries ago from another old church which had probably existed elsewhere nearby and it was found in the foundation of the altar of this chapel, when the flooring was raked up during the repairs "[xlvi] 

It seems that Mr Ramanatha Iyyer gives a little bit different version of the finding.  He has visited the site and did investigations. He seems to be a Tamil speaking man, as he has deciphered the 'vattezhuthu' inscriptions in Tamil and also use Tamil pronunciation for  Muttuchira- 'Muttusira'. There could be an element of language barrier behind this slightly different version stating that the cross was found on the foundation when he floor was raked up. Two tombs were found when the floor was raked up which has been reported by Mr George P Murickel and also Rev Fr Pediyekkal. Neither Mr. Murickel nor Mr.V C George give an exact description of the discovery.
It seems that Paul Madathil's version could be right as he was a native and might have been present when the discovery was made or definitely confirmed with witnesses, as he reported that there were many witnesses. 

The Muttuchira Lithic inscriptions describes about setting up of this church and the cross in AD 1528 and 1581.Therefore, this church in the name of Ruha D' Qudisha which became the Church of Saint Francis of Assissi was founded in AD 1528. It also talks about setting up of the 'uthira kurishu'- bleeding Cross- the Mar Thoma Sliva in AD 1581 and also of another granite Cross- Karingal tiliva- most probably an open air rock cross.

This means, after about 53 years of the building of the church, they found the ancient Pahlavi inscribed Cross and installed it on the side altar.  Where did that come from ?
The origin of the Pahlavi Inscribed Cross- the Mar Thoma Sliva.

Mr Ramanatha Iyyer reports that this Cross was brought to this church from another ancient church nearby. This could have been a local tradition of that time. So, there was  another much older church  nearby.

There are several possibilities.

1 The Church of the Ruha D' Qudisha which was renamed as Church of Saint Francis of Assissi was  the first ever church of Muttuchira.
 The local tradition says they had an ancient church founded in 6 th century AD. Setting up of a Cross on the ground  by two Bishops as described in the Muttuchira Lithic inscriptions could be the blessing of the ground for a new Church. That means their ancient Church was not in this property. The local tradition states that the ancient Church was a little east of this property at a place 'Kurisummoodu' means 'near the cross' where there is still an ancient open air cross. The Chapel of Saint Anthony is also in this place.
If this was a brand new church that was built in 1528 AD, the Cross could have been brand new or brought from elsewhere. Could be from a nearby place or from far away places like Kodungalloor as the Kottayam valiya palli crosses. Here, there is no local traditions to support this theory.

2 The construction in AD 1528- 1581 was a renovation/ demolition and reconstruction of an old church. Then  this Cross could have been from the old church.

3 There was an ancient church at Muttuchira and for some reasons, they built a new church nearby and brought the old cross here. This is what Mr Iyyer reports in his article in Travancore Archaeological series vol 7 part 2.[xlvii] Mr George P Murickel reports that 'it is supposed that the cross was taken to the church from a certain part of Muttuchira itself where now stands the chapel of Saint Anthony.[xlviii]

Now, it is clear that there was another ancient Church at Muttuchira where now stands the Chapel of Saint Anthony ! Rev Fr Jacob Muricken , the Vicar of Muttuchira Church at the time enlists a number of Churches and chapels around Muttuchira Church[xlix]. He confirms that there was a chapel  on the eastern side of the main Church at Muttuchira and the Church of Saint Francis of Assissi which stands  in front of the main Church, dedicated to Saint Anthony but the old name was Holy Cross.
Therefore, there was an ancient Church dedicated to Holy Cross- Mar Sliva at Muttuchira which was demolished and renamed as  the Chapel of Saint Anthony. Mr George P Murickel also reports that the 'pahlavi inscribed cross' was taken from this chapel of Saint Anthony. 

Ancient Mar Sliva Church of Muttuchira.

Now, the picture is clear. The most ancient Church at Muttuchira was a Mar Sliva Church where the Pahlavi inscribed Cross- Mar Sliva was placed. In AD 1528, a new Church was built at the eastern side of the present Church complex dedicated to Ruha D' Qudisha  and the Pahlavi inscribed Cross was installed in the altar in AD 1581. Later at some time, the church was renovated and a new wooden altar- 'raredos' (raathaal) was built over the Pahlavi inscribed cross. This could be what the Muttuchira Lithic inscription describes as 'marathil pothinju' in AD 1581. The local faithful renovated the old Ruha D' Qudisha Church and renamed it as Church of Saint Francis of Assissi in AD 1925.During this renovation, the Pahlavi inscribed Cross was accidentally found. By this time, the present day Ruha D Kudisha church was already built and the Pahlavi inscribed cross was placed on the inside of the facade of the Church[l]. Now, this Cross has been placed on the side altar of the main Church at Muttuchira.

It is quite interesting to note that there was an ancient Church dedicated to  Mar Sliva at Muttuchira with an ancient Sliva. As recorded by early Portuguese writers, this Sliva might have been kept in the 'madbaha' as we have seen recorded in Kodungalloor, Mailapore, Kumarimuttam, Alengad and Kollam.

The Madbaha adorned with only the Mar Thoma Sliva- the ancient tradition of Malabar.

Before the arrival of the European Missionaries, in the Churches of Saint Thomas Christians, the 'madbaha' was adored  with  only a plain cross. These plain Crosses were all in the model of the Pahlavi inscribed granite Crosse of Mailappore- the Saint Thomas Crosses. This has been witnessed by many authors, mostly the early  Portuguese  writers.

1.Duarte Barbosa. 1514 AD

Duarte Barbosa was a Portuguese traveller who came with Cabral in AD 1498. He continued exploring the South India and wrote a book narrating the description of Malabar  and the coromandel coast of South India in AD 1517.  Barbosa describes the tradition of Crosses in the 'madbaha' of the Churches of Saint Thomas Christians. Barbosa confirms that these Crosses were plain Crosses. Barbosa narrates clearly  about Crosses in the Churches at Quilon and Kumary muttam near Cape Comorin.
2 Antonio Gouvea 1599AD

Antonio Gouvea accompanied Archbishop Alexis De Menezes during his visits to the Churches of Saint Thomas Christians. He  clearly  documented that all of the Churches of Saint Thomas Christians were adored with plain crosses like that of miracle of S. Thomae.[li] The accounts of Gouvea clearly witnesses two points about the ecclesiastical milieu at the time period before the infamous synod of Diamper- Saint Thomas Christians used Mar Thoma Sliva- Saint Thomas Crosses only in their 'madbaha' when the Portuguese arrived and the native Christians called these Crosses as 'Saint Thomas Crosses'.

 Gouvea uses the term 'Cruz de Sam Thomae' meaning Crosses of Saint Thomas. According to Rev Dr Pius Malekkandathil, the Portuguese documents with  the term 'Sam Thome' is usually used to denote Saint Thomas the Apostle  and 'S Thomae' is used to denote City of Saint Thomas means Mailapore. Therefore, Gouvea really meant it as Crosses of Saint Thomas[lii]. It does not mean that these Crosses were erected by Saint Thomas the Apostle but could mean these are the Crosses of the Christians of Saint Thomas. Gouvea also mentions about the traditional belief of the local Christians that the Cross at Cranganore in front of which Archbishop Alexis De Menezes celebrated a solemn mass was placed there by Saint Thomas the Apostle himself.[liii] As we know that the custom of venerating the Cross was started in the later period only, this oral tradition could be a retrojection of later developments to the Apostolic times.



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3 Joseph, the Indian Cathanar 1503 AD

Joseph, the Indian Priest who visited Rome and Venice in AD 1502 gave a narration to the signoria of Venice about the religio cultural, political and even geography of South India. Joseph's narrations were published in different European languages. These accounts are probably the first native witness recorded in the history about the Saint Thomas Christians and South India.
Joseph narrated  that the Saint Thomas Christians had only plain crosses in their churches, no statues. They also had a Cross on the courtyard of the churches[liv]. Joseph was mentioning about the tradition of Crosses only in the madbaha (altar) and also about the standing Crosses of the Churches of Kerala.

Other antiquities of Muttuchira.

Tomb stones.

Mr Paul Madathil reported that there were two tombs in the old church-the Saint Francis Church. They were found when the floor was dug up. They were below the basements of the north and south walls of the altar, symmetrically placed, at a depth of 4 feet from the basement. Mr Paul commented that these tombs could be older than the walls and may not be directly under the wall.[lv] Rev Fr Peediyekkal commented that those tombs were of Father Jacob ( Archdeacon Jacob) and his mother.[lvi]  

Inscriptions at Muttuchira-List of H Hosten.

Rev Henry Hosten reports of 9 lithic inscriptions found from Muttuchira Church.
1 Inscription of events of AD 1828
 2 Inscription of events of AD 1580-81    Both these are on a single stone that we have already discussed.
3 Granite slab inscribed in AD 1593 says on sunday 7th dhanu 769 KE, the soul of Fra Chacko was taken, Amen. ( TKJ 20/09/1926)
4 Inscribed in AD 1628  Kollam Era 803
5 unknown  of Kollam Era  ?804
6 AD 1630  Kollam Era 806
7 AD 1642-43  Kollam Era 818
8  AD 1660  Kollam Era 835
9 unknown  Kollam Era ?*48
There are many others also, many are seen built into the wall of the Church of saint Francis of Assissi as supports for the beams[lvii].

Inscriptions of Muttuchira- List of A S Ramanatha Ayyar.

Inscription on the pedestal of the open air rock cross in front of the main Church.

Line 1:             Mishiyha perannitte 1623 lu kaalam sesare
Line 2:             thu kollam ...thu kanni jnayar karinkal
Line 3:             kurishu iruthi kalluve....ithu maathu than ....kanakku pe...)
Translation-  After the birth of Mishiha,  1623 period- ?sesare this is Kollam Era the month Kanni sunday, this granite was erected. Stone ? the account of mathu.... [lviii]

Some other inscriptions.

Rest of the inscriptions are funerary inscription but many letters and words are  illegible. Examples of readings of the fragments which are legible are[lix],
1 kallar veli mathuven kuriyathinte alam mayi thampurante managunathaale eduthukku-
2 Kollam... matham mithine jnayaru uyirine kongade le adappu kuriathinu nallavazhi cheythu
3 palehan thareerhu mariathinte alam meyu thampurante managunathaale eduthu
4 makaram yu mathu ee aype ittere alame nallame eduthu.
5 kollam...maruthu meena matham ....hale kanakkin vanthasemi alachanaal kadapurathe eliza anamale yadu neram nallavzhikke edakoodi.
Crosses found in Muttuchira.

Cross No  1: The Pahlavi inscribed granite bas relief Cross- The Muttuchira Sliva.
Cross No 2: The open air Rock Cross in front of the main Church- The Ruha D' Qhudisha Forane Church at Muttuchira. It has an inscription in the pedestal beginning with KE 799 (AD 1623-24)[lx]
Cross No 3: The miniature bas relief cross on the base of the base of  the Cross No 2 in the design of Muttuchira Sliva.
Cross No 4: Brass Cross. This was a silver coated brass cross used in processions. There was no inscriptions but had decorations on the surface. This cross was melted off in 1919 AD.[lxi]
Cross No 5:  Wooden Cross apparently present on the 'raredos' of the old Church (presently Saint Francis Church in front of the Main Church) behind which, the Muttuchira Sliva was found in AD 1925. This Cross has been destroyed.
Cross No 6:  Open air Cross found in Muttuchira Angadi near the Saint Anthony's Chapel
Cross No 7: Open air Cross near Saint Sebastian's Church.

Churches and Chapels in Muttuchira.(Rev Fr Jacob Murickan's numbering system)

Church no 1:
Old name- Church of Ruha D' Qudisha. New name- Church of Saint Francis of Assissi. Probably built in 1528 AD according to the Muttuchira inscriptions.
Church No 2:
The main Church of Muttuchira today, the Ruha D' Qudisha Forane Church, Muttuchira where the Muttuchira Sliva has been recently installed. This was built probably in 1859-1885.[lxii]
Church No 3:
Saint Sebastian's Church- also called 'Prasu Church' with a small open air Cross in front.
Chapel a- Old name Mar Sliva, new name Saint Anthony's. There is a masonry open air Cross- Cross No 6.
Chapel b Saint Teresa's or Flower of Jesus.

Muttuchira Church is an ancient Church in Malabar. The very first Church of the Christian settlement in Muttuchira was Mar Sliva Church at Muttuchira situated somewhere near the Kurisummoodu where the Muttuchira Sliva was adored in the altar. The Muttuchira Sliva was taken from this Church and placed in the newly built  Ruha D' Qudisha old Church- the Church of Saint Francis of Assissi in the esatern side of the present Church complex probably in 1580AD. Later, during renovations, the Muttuchira Sliva was neglected and a new raredos (rathaal) was built over it. In 1923 AD, during the renovations, the Sliva was accidentally rediscovered, but the then authorities tried to mutilate the inscription for fear of accusations of Nestorianism. It was again neglected  and replaced in the new Ruha D' Qudisha Church in a very unimportant place- back side of the wall of the facade in a corner, probably because of the interests of the Archaeological Department of the then Government of Travancore. Now,  this invaluable monument of Saint Thomas Christians has been placed in a side altar of the main Church. Thus, the Muttuchira Sliva, the Pahlavi inscribed Cross is an invaluable monument of the Christian community that  was the  symbol of veneration of the ancient  Christian settlement of Muttuchira. 

Muttuchira inscription is another landmark monument which is an evidence of the initial friendly and collaborative relations of the Church of Saint Thomas Christians and the Western Missionaries. It also narrates installation of the Mar Thoma Sliva in the altar and the open air Rock Cross.
Covering the Muttuchira Sliva with a new 'raredos'  (rathaal) is an evidence of subjugation by the missionaries to take away our age old traditions and to wipe out our ancient Syriac Christian heritage and  force the community to conform with the Roman rite.

It is glad to see that the neglected Muttuchira Sliva has been placed in a much honourable place, on the side altar recently. The Christian community has a duty to protect and preserve their ancient monuments. There is scope for setting up a Museum for portraying these very important  monuments and to do further investigations to study about the inscribed tablets built into the wall of the Church of Saint Francis Assissi and others still unearthed.

Thanks to Mr Mathew Mailapparampil for suggestions and language corrections. 
Thanks to Mr Sandeep Thomas and Mr Mebin John for local information,  help for field study and to provide a few pictures. 
Thanks to Mr R Sivalingam, my colleague for helping with translation of a few  documents from Tamil language.
Picture credits.
Title picture  of the Muttuchira Sliva has been taken from Travancore Arcaheological Series.
The black and white picture of Muttuchira Lithic inscription has been taken from Kerala Society papers.

 ADRIAN FORTESCUE, The Lesser Eastern Churches,p 84. Even though For



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tescue does not accept that the accusation of nestorianism  on nestorius and his party was not correct but admit that there was significant contraversy related to the Greek language terms and phrases that were translated into syriac where the y used  more or less the equivalents in Syriac. (All Nestorians say there are two knume in our Lord. That is their formula : two kydne, two knume, one parsufd. The question, then (just as in the case of
hypostasis) , is what they mean by their knuma. If it means merely a real, individual nature (as opposed to a universal concept) , they agree with us ; if it means what we mean by  person, their phrase  two knume  is pure Nestorianism).
[ii] JOHN THOPPIL,,Christology in the East Syrian Tradition, in East Syrian Theology, an Introduction, Ed Pauly Maniattu, pp261-162 
[iii] W.A.WIGRAM, An introduction to the History of Assyrian Church, 1910, LONDON, p 97. Patriarch Iso yahb II (628-643 AD) in Antioch made  the following appellation of the faith of the Church of the East that  'our belief in a Christ who, as Perfect Man, was consubstantial with us; - and who, as Perfect God, was consubstantial with the Father, in one "Personalitas"
[iv] T K JOSEPH, letter dated 03/10/1926 cited in H Hosten, Antiquities of Sam Thome and Mailappore, p348. Antonio Gouvea uses both terms 'Nagapilli and Ignapilli/Ignaperi  in his Jornada. Rev Dr Pius Malekandathil explains that field study confirms a small bridge nearby is still called Nagpili bridge. Rev Dr Pius identifies Ignapilli as Elanji using the method of phonetic corroboration.Ignapilli is Ijna pilli, Ijni or Ejni could be  an abreviation of Elanji. But Gouvea states it was Ignapilli where Cathanar Jacob, the Vicar General of Mar Simon, the schismatic Bishop lived  which was actually  Muttuchira. Also,  the Church in Ignapilli was dedicated to Holy Spirit which is Muttuchira, not Elanji unless the Church in Elanji changed its name later. Therefore, the name Ignapili used by Gouvea could be Muttuchira itself. Jornada also give approximate distances. On the first visit to Muttuchira from Kaduthuruthy, Gouvea says almost half a league . On the second visit, Archbishop Menezes visited Ignapilli from Kuravilangadu and from Ignapilli, he went to Kaduthuruthy which Gouvea states almost a league away. These are approximate distances, but Elanji seems more far away. Muttuchira to Kaduthuruthy is only 2 km while Elanji is about 14 Km away from Muttuchira.
[v] Rev Dr XAVIER KOODAPUZHA, Mar Thoma Nasrani sabha Vijnana Kosham (Malayalam book), Oriental Institute of religious studies, Vadavathoor, Kottayam, 1999, p 752
[vi] PIUS  MALEKKANDATHIL, Jornada of Dom Alexis De Menezes:A Portuguese Account of the Sixteenth Century Malabar, LRC Publication Cochin,2003, p 198, 438.
[vii] H HOSTEN,  Antiquities of Sam Thome and Mailappore,1936, p 347 British Museum Sloane MS 9907 fol 17v 18r-18 v1
[viii] H HOSTEN, Opus cit p 348. These pleases have been identified by Mr T K Joseph with the help of Mr Karottu C George. Coddi heli could be Kulaveli-a small track of land comprising the Christian street in Muttuchira. Kulaveli has become a family name also.
Pram poram could be Parampram- a village east of Muttuchira street.
Perium paddy could be Tiruvampady, a village a mile north of Muttuchira.
Tanara chera could be Thamarachira, a village south of Muttuchira.
Cheri Omellur could be Cheriomelloor usually called Omellur, a village 2 miles south east of Muttuchira.
May mure could be Memury, is 3 miles south of Muttuchira, near Manvettom.
Nin dure could be Neendoor, 2 miles south east of Memury.
Herle nelha cara could be Erennalakara- Eravi mangalakara
[ix] JOANNES FUCUNDUS RAULIN, Raulin Historis Ecclesiae Malabaricae cum Diamperitana Synodo, Rome, 1745,p 428 cited by PIUS MELEKKANDATHIL, Jornada of Dom Alexis De Menesis: A Portuguese Account of the Sixteenth Century Malabar, LRC Publications Cochin, 2003 p 199
[x] ANQUETIL DU PERRON, Zend Avesta, t1, pt1, Paris 1771, p clxxxxvi cited by H Hosten, Antiquities of Sam Thome and Mailappore, p348.
[xi] PAULINUS DE BARTHOLOMEW,  India Orientalis Christiana, Roma, 1794,p 267.cited by PIUS MALEKKANDATHIL, Jornada of Dom Alexis De Menesis: A Portuguese Account of the Sixteenth Century Malabar, LRC Publications Cochin, 2003 p 199
[xii] H HOSTEN Opus cit p351 citing Rev Fr JOSEPH PEEDIYEKKAL, letter dated 02/11/1925
[xiii] XAVIER KOODAPUZHA, Opus cit p 752
[xiv] JOSEPH THEKKEDATHU, History of Christianity in India Vol II p 50 citing a letter of Fr Dionysio S J dated 23 January 1577, Josephus Wicki, Documenta Indiaca, X p 834.,
[xv] JOSEPH THEKKEDATHU, opus cit p51 citing Gueseppe Beltrami, La Chiesa caldea p 91
[xvi]BERNARD  THOMAS, Keralathile Mar Thoma Christianikal, vol II, Mannanam, 1921,malayalam,p 117.  It was on the third day of his Episcopal consecration which was on 01 February 1663.
[xvii] JAMES PULIURUMPIL, The Early Christian Settlements in Kerala, p158
[xviii] JOSEPH THEKKEDATHU, opus cit p 50 citing a letter of Fr Dionysio dted 23 January 1577 in JOSEPH WICKY, Documenta Indica, x P 834.
[xix] Mar Abraham received  pallium from Pope Pius IV as Archbishop of Angamali. In 1555 AD, the then Chaldean catholic Patriarch mar Abdisho , the legitimate Canonical head of the saint Thomas Christians of Malabar sent two Bishiops to malabar- mar Joseph Sulaka and Mar Elias, the Apostolic visitor of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch in malabar alongwith two Maltese Dominicns Bishop Ambrose Buttigeg, the Papal Nuncio for the East and Fr Anthony sahara. Even with the presence of the Papal Nuncio, the group was arrested by the Portuguese in Goa in November 1555  and the two Chaldean Bishops kept in detention in a Franciscan Monastery in Bassein, near Bombay. With the intervention of the Papal Nuncio, the Bishops were set free in 1558 AD. By this time, mar Abdisho, the Chaldean cathol.ic patriarch sent mar Abraham to Kerala who arrived in 1557 AD. Later, Mar Abraham was arrested in 1558, deported to Lisbon but on the way, when the ship anchored in Mozambique, he escaped and arrived in Mosul .Later, Mar Joseph was also arrested by 1562 AD and sent to Portugal. He was cleared all the accusations on him by Cardinal Hernry in Lisbon and returned to Kerala. Again in 1567, mar Joseph was arrested and sent to Rome in 1568  to test his orthodoxy. In rome, he was cleared again but died in Rome in 1569. Mar Abdisho, the Chaldean catholic Patriarch sent Mar Abraham again to Kerala, but through Rome from where, he received his pallium and three recommendation letters from Pope Pius IV to 1 Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, 2 Archbishop of Goa and 3 Bishop of Cochin. In these three letters, Pope Pius IV explicitly and unambiguously confirms the jurisdiction of the Chaldean catholic Patriarch over the saint Thomas Christians of Malabar. The Pope advised the Chaldean Patriarch to divide  the Saint Thomas Christians of Malabar into two  dioceses and appoint Mar Abraham as the Archbishop of Angamali. The Pope also advised Archbishop of Goa and Bishop of Cochin that Chaldean Catholic Patriarch is in full communion with the Pope and warned the Archbishop of Goa  it will be detrimental to the Pope himself and the Apostolic See , if he would hinder the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Chaldeans in Malabar.( Rev Dr Paul Pallathu, Were the Saint Thomas ChristiansNestorians at the time of the Synod of Diamper in 1599?, Ephrem's theological Journal, Vol 5 March 2001 pp35-70.
[xx] JAMES HOUGH, The History of Christianity in India vol I p 286
[xxi] JOSEPH THEKKEDATHU, opus cit p 51 citing Fr Achilles Meersman, The Ancient Franciscan Provinces in India 1500-1835,  1971 p 302
[xxii] JOSEPH THEKKEDATHU opus cit p 51
[xxiii] H HOSTEN, opus cit p 352 citing letters from Mr T K Joseph and letter dated 02/11/1926 of Rev Fr Peediyekal, a former vicar of Muttuchira Church.
JAMES HOUGH,History of Christianity in India vol I  p 420
[xxiv] JAMES HOUGH Opus cit p 287. These letters were found by Archbishop Alexis De Menesis and sent to the General inquisition of Portugal.
[xxv] JACOB KOLLAMPARAMBIL, Archdeacon of All India, 1972, p96.  It has to be noted that Chaldean Pontifical allows Archdeacon to consecrate altars without using Holy oils.
[xxvi] JAMES HOUGH, Opus cit p 294-295
[xxvii] JACOB KOLLAMPARAMBIL, Opus cit p 96 citing Antonio Gouvea, Jornada do Arcebishopo de Goa....Coimbra, 1606, ff 9v-11v
[xxviii] H HOSTEN, Opus cit p 352. Paul Madathil wrote an article in the vernacular News Paper Malyala manorama 'Muttuchira and its Persian Cross'.
[xxix] Mr T K Joseph was an eminent historian and a versatile scholar and teacher. He was the secretary of the Kerala Society that was founded in 1927 by the scholars in Trivandrum modelled on the Royal Asiatic Society. He has published several articles and books and was the Editor of the prestigious journal 'Kerala Society Papers' which is a vauable resource for students, researchers and scholars.
[xxx] Letter of Rev Fr Joseph Peediyekkal dated 02/11/1926 addressedd to Rev Henry Hosten SJ, cited in Antiquities of sam Thome and Mailappore, H Hosten, 1936 p350 foot note 2
[xxxi] T K Joseph, Notes by TK Joseph to the article by Rev H Hosten, The saint Thomas Christians of Malabar (AD 1490- 1504) Kerla Society Papers series 5 p253.
[xxxii] Mar Jacob who arrived in Kerala in AD 1504 with Mar Denha, Mar Jahballaha and Mar Thomas. Mar Jacob has been mentioned as Aboona in the letters of saint Francis Xavier.Mar Jacob died in AD 1549.
[xxxiii] A S RAMANATHA AYYAR, Travancore Archaeological Series Vol VII, Part II 1930 p 75
[xxxiv] A S RAMANATHA AYYAR, Muttusira Inscriptions, Travancore Archaeological Series,Vil VII p 75
[xxxv] A S RAMANATHA AYYAR, Opus cit p 75-76
[xxxvi] F C BURKITT, A Further note on the Pahlavi Crosses, Oxford Journal of Theological studies, 1929,os XXXI (1):pp47-48
[xxxvii] PAUL J MADATHIL, Letter dated 28/10.1925 to MR T K JOSEPH cited by H HOSTEN, opus cit pp351-352 foot note 5
[xxxviii] H HOSTEN, opus cit pp351-352 end note 5
[xxxix] H HOSTEN, Antiquities of Sam Thome and mailappore, 1936, p 341. Letter from  Mr A S ramanatha Iyyer dated 16 September 1925
[xl] H HOSTEN, Antiquities of Sam Thome and Mailappore, 1936 p 342. Letter by Mr T K Joseph to Rev H Hosten dated 11 October 1925
[xli] H HOSTEN, Antiquities of sam Thome and Mailappore, 1936, p 351- Letter by Mr paul madathil dated 28 October 1925 to Mr T K Joseph.
[xlii] H HOSTEN, Antiquities of sam Thome and Mailappore, 1936 p 345 letter from Fr pediyekkal dated 02 November 1926
[xliii] H HOSTEN, Antiquities of sam Thome and Mailappore 1936 p 344 letter from Mr V C george to MR T K Joseph, dated 19 October 1925
[xliv] H HOSTEN, Antiquities of sam Thome and Mailppore 1936 p 344  Article of Mr George P Murickel dated 21 October 1925 sent to the Catholic Herld of India, calcutta   forwarded to Rev H Hosten by the Editor of Catholic Herald of India on 29 October 1925 which was due to be published in the Catholic Herald of India but the paper ceased publication on 28 Otober 1925
[xlv] Rev Fr JOSEPH PEEDIYEKKAL, Letter dated 02/11/1926 cited by H HOSTEN, Opus cit p345 foot note 2
[xlvi] A S RAMANATHA AYYAR, No 52, Muttusira inscriptions, Travancore Archaeological series vol VII part II 1930 p75
[xlvii] A S RAMANATHA AYYAR, No 52, Muttusira Inscriptions, Travancore Archaeological series Vol VII, part II p 75,
[xlviii] H HOSTEN, Antiquities of sam Thome and Mailppore 1936 p 345 -  Article of Mr George P Murickel dated 21 October 1925 sent to the Catholic Herld of India, calcutta   forwarded to Rev H Hosten by the Editor of Catholic Herald of India on 29 October 1925 which was due to be published in the Catholic Herald of India but the paper ceased publication on 28 Otober 1925
[xlix] H HOSTEN, Opus cit p 351
[l] H HOSTEN, Antiquities of Sam Thome and nMailappore, 1936 p 346 Article of Mr george P Murickel to The catholic Herald of India, calcutta dated 21 October 1925 forwarded to H Hosten by the Editor of Catholic Herald dated 29 october 1925.
[li] PIUS MALEKKANDATHIL, Jornada of Dom Alexis De menezes: A Portuguese Account of the Sixteenth Century Malabar LRC Publications, Kochi, 2003, pp 244-245
[lii] PIUS MALEKKANDATHIL, Jornada of Dom Alexis De Menezes:A Portuguese account of the Sixteenth Century Malabar, LRC Cochin,2003, p 245 foot note 190.
[liii] PIUS MALEKANDATHIL opus cit p 216
[liv]ANTONY VALLAVANTHARA, India in 1500 AD, pp 166-167, 231
[lv] PAUL MADATHIL, Letters dated 28/10/1925 and 07/11/1925 cited by H Hosten, Antiquities of Sam Thome and Mailapore, p345 foot note 2
[lvi] JOSEPH PEEDIYEKKAL, Letter of Rev Fr Peediyekkal dated 24/11/1925 cited by H Hosten,Antiquities of sam Thome and Mailappore, p 345 foot note 2
[lvii] H HOSTEN Opus cit p 345 foot note 3
[lviii] A S Ramanatha Ayyar, Opus cit p 78
[lix] A S Ramanatha Ayyar, opus cit p78
[lx] H HOSTEN, Opus cit p348
[lxi] H HOSTEN Opus cit p 346 citing T K Joseph,  letters of Rev Fr Joseph Peediyekkal and Mr Paul Madathil.
[lxii] XAVIER KOODAPUZHA Opus cit p 752. Rev Dr Koodapuzha has recorded that the first church was at Kurisummoodu in 6th century. In the 7th century, a new Church was built at the eastern side of the present Church complex, at the site of the Church of Saint Francis of Assissi. In the 9th century, the Church was attacked by Mugalans. In 13th century, it was rebuilt.

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