A Brief History of the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church
It was to a land of dark people he was sent, to clothe them by Baptism in white robes. His grateful dawn dispelled India's painful darkness. It was his mission to espouse India to the One-Begotten. The merchant is blessed for having so great a treasure. Edessa thus became the blessed city by possessing the greatest pearl India could yield. Thomas works miracles in India, and at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples perverse and steeped in darkness, and that in the land of India.
—Hymns of Saint Ephrem, edited by Lamy (Ephr. Hymni et Sermones, IV).
Eusebius of Caesarea quotes Origen (died mid-3rd century) as having stated that Thomas was the apostle to the Parthians, but Thomas is better known as the missionary to India through the Acts of Thomas, perhaps written as late as c. 200. In Edessa, where his remains were venerated, the poet Saint Ephrem (died 373) wrote a hymn in which the Devil cries,
... Into what land shall I fly from the just?
I stirred up Death the Apostles to slay, that by their death I might escape their blows.
But harder still am I now stricken: the Apostle I slew in India has overtaken me in Edessa; here and there he is all himself.
There went I, and there was he: here and there to my grief I find him.
—quoted in Medlycott 1905, ch. ii.
At least from the fourth century, the Indian Church entered into a close relationship with the Persian or East Syrian Church. From the Persians, the Indians inherited The East Syrian language and liturgies, and gradually came to be known as Syrian Christians. In the sixteenth century Roman Catholic missionaries came to Kerala. They tried to unite the Syrian Christians to the Roman Catholic Church and this led to a split in the community. Those who accepted Roman Catholicism are the present Syro-Malabar Catholics. Later, Western Protestant missionaries came to Kerala and worked among The Syrian Christians. This also created certain divisions in the community. In the seventeenth century, the Church came in to relationship with the Antiochene Church, which again caused splits. As a result of this relationship, the Church received West Syrian liturgies and practices. The Church entered into a new phase of its history by the establishment of the Catholicate in 1912. At present, the Church is using the West Syrian liturgy. The faith of the Church is that which was established by the three Ecumenical Councils of Nicea (A.D. 325), Constantinople (A.D. 381) and Ephesus (A.D. 431). The church is headed by the Catholicos of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan.
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church also known as Indian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church centered in Indian state of Kerala. The church was founded by St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, who came to India in A.D. 52.
Thomas is traditionally believed to have sailed to India in AD 50 to spread the Christian faith, and is believed to have landed at the port of Muziris, (modern-day North Paravur and Kodungalloor in modern-day Kerala state) where there was a Jewish community at the time.
The port was destroyed in 1341 by a massive flood that realigned the coasts. He is believed by the St Thomas Christian tradition to have established Yezh(Seven) ara(half) palligal(churches) or Seven and Half Churches in Kerala. These churches are at Kodungallur, Palayoor, Kottakkavu (Paravur), Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Nilackal (Chayal), Kollam and Thiruvithamcode (half church).