KOCHI: From the tremendous riches and religious amity of the glorious past to the complex religious rituals in the State, there has been an enduring public fascination for the various aspects of Central Kerala, especially the ancient Muziris that was the landing point for Christianity, Islam and a host of other world cultures.
A more-than-four-century-old tomb believed to be that of Mar Abraham, the last Persian Chaldean bishop in Kerala who died in 1597, was discovered at the St Hormis Church (Kizhakkeppally), Angamaly, shedding light on the history of the region. The laterite structure unearthed at the church during renovation work also sheds light on the historic magnificence of a region, where St Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, and the early Islamic missionaries believed to have landed through the ancient seaport of Muziris, which even finds mention in ‘Chilappathikaram’ and the Roman/Greek historical records.
According to St George Basilica, Angamaly, rector Kuriakose Mundadan, who was among the group that discovered the tomb, the structure will be preserved with utmost respect and sanctity. “We cannot convert it into a museum as the tomb is situated in the sanctuary of the church. However, the faithful will be given the opportunity to see it without upsetting the church rituals,” he said, adding that devotees were thronging the church since Sunday morning to get a glimpses of the tomb.
“As per records, Mar Abraham was the last foreign (East Syrian) Metropolitan with the title ‘Metropolitan and Gate of All India’ who resided in Angamaly. When Mar Abraham was ordained as bishop of the Angamaly diocese in 1563, St Hormis East Church was the cathedral church where Mar Abraham resided. In the known history of St Thomas Christians, the first regional synod was convened in Angamaly in 1583, which was presided over by Mar Abraham,” said Mundadan.
In the synod, various important decisions, including the the corrections in the liturgical books of Syrians and establishment of the Vypeecotta Seminary, were taken. Mar Abrham died in January 1597 in Angamaly, and his body was buried in the Cathedral Church. Though he was buried in the sanctuary of the church, built in 1585 by the Chaldean Bishop, there was no official records to support the claim. Angamaly was the first archdiocese in India and its jurisdiction was extended across the country. After Mar Abraham’s demise, superior of Archdiocese of Goa Dom Alexis Menzes degraded Angamaly and brought it under the control of the Goa Archdiocese.