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have been corrupted from Calmelmina, e saxo, that he was thrust through by a spear from a rock; and so may mean the rock in the neighbourhood of Maliapoor now called Monte pequeno, or the little mount. That spot is still a place of pilgrimage to Syrians, Arabs and Armenians, (both Roman catholic and protestant), and even the heathens keep a lamp burning there from veneration to his
A tradition so constant among people so distant from each other, and so opposite in religious faith, is not lightly to be rejected ; and may go far to fix the meaning of the unknown word in the two most ancient records.
We know from Eusebius that Pantænus (who Aourished A. D. 180) found the gospel of St. Matthew in Malabar. Some mission therefore had taken place at a time closely bordering on the apos
In the acts of the council of Nice (in the opening of the IV century) we find Johannes, bishop of India, Maxima and Persia, enumerated among the bishops of the council ; and the testimony of Cosmas Indicopleustes is express. In Taprobana insula ad interiorem Indiam, ubi Indicum pelagus extat, Ecclesia christianorum habetur, ubi clerici et fideles reperiuntur ; an ulterius etiam ignoro. Similiter in mala ut vocant, (unde Malabar,) ubi gignitur piper. In Calliana* vero (sic nuncupant) episcopus est, in Perside ordinari solitus.
The church of Maliapoor, from the death of the Apostle, languished till the year 1606, when Paul V. erected it into a see. The whole coast of Coromandel from Negapatam northward, the kingdom of Orissa, Bengal, and Pegu, were subjected to the bishop of St. Thomé. The patronage had been given by Paul III. to the king of Portugal in the year 1534.
The cleft in the rock which is now shewn as the tomb of the Apostle was opened by Joseph Pinheiro, bishop of St. Thomé A. D. 1729; and the childish fables and pretended miracles that have been industriously propagated to increase the reputation of their monastery have thrown a shade of unmerited suspicion on the venerable tradition of antiquity and the express testimony of many ancient writers.
At the close of the ninth century his shrine was devoutly visited by the ambassadors of the illustrious Alfred, who in the midst of his vast projects of discovery and trade, was too wise to reject the voice of all consentient witnesses. The chief of his embassy was the first English bishop in India.
I am aware that Mr. Tillemont, La Croze, and others maintain that it was not the Apostle, but Thomas the disciple of Manes, A. D. 277, that first preached christianity in India. But there are two strong objections to this opinion. First, the constant tradition, which, as we have seen is entirely for the Apostle ; and secondly, because Epiphanius, in his history of Manes and his disciples, says that he fled not into India, but into Judæa, where he was taken by the king of Persia.* We are told also by Epiphanius that Manes on his arrival at Cashar, found their bishops, presbyters, and deacons, with a large body of orthodox christians, who banished him for his heresy. This establishment surely implies the introduction of christianity at a much earlier period, i. e. at a date much anterior to the year 277.
But to pass from this, the scene of the Apostle's ministry, to the opposite coast, the immediate object of our present enquiry. The most credible and constant tradition, among Arabs, heathens and christians, is that after his death, his disciples, being driven hence by persecution, crossed the Peninsula, to the opposite coast of Malabar, and took refuge in the hills of Travancore, where they found other christians, converts of the Apostle on his first landing on that coast before he visited Madras.
The heathen princes conferred great privileges on the christians thus assembled in their territories, and especially Serun PerUMAL, the Samorin or king of Malabar and the founder of Calicut, in the ninth century.t This was the prince who divided the provinces of his empire amongst his relations and favourites, and so introduced that multitude of petty principalities into which Malabar has been ever since divided. In virtue of the privileges granted them by Perumal, the christians ranked amongst the nobles of the country, and at one period took precedence of the Nairs. The most considerable of these is one which still continues, and the heathen Government recognizes the metropolitan whom they elect as their temporal as well as spiritual chiet.
These privileges, together with others which the king of Cranganore afterwards granted to Mar Thomas, were written in the language of the country on plates of brass, and were preserved till the arrival of the Portuguese in India. A bishop of Angamale, called Mar Yacoob, from fear of losing them, entrusted them to the Portuguese commissioners at Cochin on their first establishment there ;
* Epiphan. 1. 629. + According to Scaliger A. D. 907, but according to Mr. Vicher A. D. 825. and the commissioners leaving them carelessly exposed in the public godowns, they were unfortunately lost; but the rights are still continued by prescription.
The Mar Thomas, or Thomas Cana, whom I have just mentioned was an Armenian merchant of great wealth and noble family, who came and settled in Travancore, probably about the fifth century, although Gouvea the Portuguese historian, makes him the contemporary of Perumal. He carried on an extensive traffic in the produce of the country and built two houses one in the south in the kingdom of Cranganore, the other in the north, probably at Angamale or the immediate neighbourhood. In the former of these his wife resided, and in the latter, a christian slave with whom he lived. By each of these he had children, and at hi death he left to his legitimate offspring his lands and possessions in the south, and to his natural children all his property in the north. The present christians in Travancore trace their descent from this Mar Thomas, and of course those of the south are the more noble. So proud are they of this distinction, that they do not intermarry with others or admit them to communion in their churches, nor use the ministry of their priests.
Some time after the foundation of Quilon, from which commences the common epoch of Malabar ;-i e. about A. D. 822—two Syrian ecclesiastics arrived on that coast from Babylon, Mar Shapoor and Mar Firoze. They landed at Quilon, and the king, seeing the great reverence in which the christians held them, showed them great favour, and among other privileges empowered them to build churches wherever they pleased, and to baptize all that were desirous of embracing christianity. These privileges are still continued to them, and the plates of brass on which they were written in Canarese, Malayalim, Vizianagrum, and Tamul, were seen by Alexis de Menezes, the archbishop of Goa, in the year 1599.
These two ecclesiastics are enrolled by the christians of St. Thomas in the number of their saints, Cadeeshe: they are commemorated in their liturgy, and several churches were dedicated to their honor. Menezes, who from not finding their names in bis Roman Martyrology concluded they were Nestorians, erased their names from the liturgies, and changed the titles of their churches
The christians by this long course of prosperity became so powerful that they threw off the yoke of the heathen princes, and elected a king of their own nation. The first who bore that title, King of the Christians of St. Thomas," was Baliarte. For some
time they preserved their independence ; until one of them, who according to the custom of the country had adopted the king of Diamper, died without issue, and the heatben king of Diamper succeeded peaceably to all his rights. After this, in consequence of a similar adoption, they passed under the sovereignty of the king of Cochin, to whom the greater part of them were subject on the arrival of the Portuguese in India.
Through the whole of this period, and to the present hour, they are firm in their allegiance to the see of Antioch, from which they profess to have received their ministry. Antioch, one of the four patriarchates into which the world was divided, embraced the whole of Asia, the East, and India, κατνιχεν άπασαν την Ασιαν, και Ανατολης, αυτην τε την Ινδιαν.* The Catholicos + or archbishop of Persia
one of his suffragans; and India together with China
reckoned the XIII. last diocese subject to the jurisdiction of Persia. In the opening of the 6th century the churches of Persia were entirely in the hands of the Nestorians, who had emigrated beyond the limits of the Roman empire on the triumph of their enemies; and it was probably early in that century that the christians of St. Thomas received the doctrines of the council of Ephesus with regard to the two natures of Christ. This faith they retained unshaken on the arrival of the Portuguese; nor could all the arts and persecutions of Menezes induce them to relinquish it. They were occasionally visited by Jacobite prelates; but without any change of their national creed before the 17th century. At what exact time they received the Monophysite doctrine, preached by Jacobus in the middle of the VI. century, is unknown, but it has so entirely supplanted the opposite heresy that there is not now the slightest trace of Nestorianism in their ritual or books, though they are still usually called the Nestorians of Malabar.
An opinion has sometime prevailed that these interesting churches are the descendants of emigrants from Assyria (or rather from Persia) during the persecutions of Justinian. This opinion chiefly rests on a vague assertion of Gibbon, who appears to have mistaken the original authority which he quotes of Cosmos Indicopleustes to which I have already alluded. There is no tradition among themselves of any such numerous emigration, though they look to the cradle of their religion, the see of Antioch, or Babylon with unbounded veneration. Nor is there, as far as I
* Nilus Doxopatris apud Allatina.. L. 1. c. 9. 166. † A title which first rose in the reign of Justinian.