Origin and Apostolic Foundation of St. Thomas Christians (52 AD - 1597 AD)

Early Christian Roots in India

Apostolic Arrival: According to enduring Indian tradition, Apostle Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, arrived in India in 52 AD. He landed on the Malabar Coast, near the ancient port of Muzaris (Cranganore) in present-day Kerala. This event is pivotal in the history of Christianity in India.

Evangelization and Community Formation: Apostle Thomas embarked on a mission of evangelization among the Jewish and local populations. His efforts led to the conversion of several thousand individuals and the establishment of seven Christian communities across different regions. These communities are often referred to as the 'Seven Churches' founded by St. Thomas.

Martyrdom and Legacy

Martyrdom of Apostle Thomas: Apostle Thomas's mission in India concluded with his martyrdom. He was martyred in 72 AD at Mylapore, close to modern-day Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu. His martyrdom is a significant event, revered in the traditions of the St. Thomas Christians.

Continued Influence: The 'St Thomas Christians' or 'Nasranis' continued to flourish in India, maintaining a distinctive identity. Their practices incorporated local cultural elements while preserving the essence of early Christian teachings.

Ecclesiastical Developments

Hierarchical Structure: The St Thomas Christians initially maintained autonomy in their ecclesiastical affairs. Over time, due to various historical and canonical factors, they came under the jurisdiction of the Church of the East, headquartered in the Persian Empire. This connection was primarily for episcopal ordinations and ecclesiastical guidance.

Role of the Archdeacon: The real administrative authority within the St Thomas Christian community was vested in the 'Archdeacon of All India', a native ecclesiastical leader. The Archdeacon, supported by the general church assembly (yogam), consisting of clergy and laity representatives, effectively governed the church in matters not requiring episcopal authority.

End of the Chaldean Era

Last Chaldean Metropolitan: The continuous connection with the Church of the East lasted until the demise of Mar Abraham, the last Chaldean Metropolitan, in January 1597. His death marked the end of an era and set the stage for significant changes in the Indian Christian landscape.

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