KOCHI: Santa Anastasia Minor Basilica in Rome, one of the oldest Christain churches, and one of the oldest Minor Basilicas in the world was assigned to Syro Malabar Church. Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, the Vicar General of the Holy Father Pope Francis for the diocese of Rome has issued a decree dated July 8.
According to Fr Abraham Kavilpurayidathil, PRO of Syro Malabar Church, the decree points out three major things. A new arrangement is made for the pastoral care of the Syro Malabar faithful living within the territories of the diocese of Rome, a priest designated by the Syro Malabar Major Archbishop will be appointed as the Chaplain of the Syro Malabar Catholics and the centre of the pastoral activities of the Syro Malabar Catholics in Rome will be Santa Anastasia Minor Basilica.
It was in 2019, the Syro-Malabar bishops made a request for obtaining such a church to the Holy Father Pope Francis during their visit. "It is the special interest of the Holy Father that made it possible for
the issue of such a decree without any loss of time. The efforts of Mar Stephen Chirappanath, the Procurator of the Major Archbishop in Rome and the Apostolic Visitator in Europe and his colleagues too were behind the speedy implementation of this request," said Fr Kavilpurayidathil.
It was Emperor Constantine who started the construction of this Basilica during the years between 325-326 A.D. Popes until the end of the 7th Century celebrated their Christmas masses in this Basilica. This church built in the baroque style is famous for its architectural splendor and decorative works.
It was in this church that the Syro-Malabar Catholics of the Santhom parish Rome were holding their sacramental celebrations from the year 2011. There are around 7000 Syro-Malabar Catholics in and around Rome and this new set-up will go a long way in the smooth coordination of their spiritual and pastoral activities.