“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” – Psalm 133:1
Marwan Sapir Eso & Iyyanadikal Thiruvadikal (849 AD)
In 825 AD, A Persian merchant named Marwan Sapir Eso landed in Kollam• Maruvan Sapir Eso and lyyanadikal Thiruvadikal (A.D.849) (Courtesy Madhavan Nayar Foundation, Cochin) His Majesty Handed over the Copper Plates to Marwan Sapir Eso. He only built Tareesappally. Kollam Kallada Malayil Muthalaly’s Family its consider Maruvan Sapir Eso as their Godfather
Sketches of Mar Sabore and Mar Aphroth as found in the Altar
Mar Sabore and Mar Aphroth, two Persian bishops representing the Persian church and its Catholicos came to Kollam With Marwan Sapir Eso. Mar Sabore and Mar Aphroth (Kadeeshangal) are the Patron Saints of Kollam Kadeesa Syrian Church and Kollam Kallada Malayil Muthalaly Family.
Kollam Kadeesha Syrian Church
Kollam Kadeesa Syrian Church established during 1519. AD, by descendants of Marwan Sapir Eso, a Persian merchant, is owned by Kallada Malayil Muthalaly’s family. The connection between the Kallada Malayil Muthalaly’s family and Kollam Kadeesa Syrian Church is unique and inseparable.
Song of Kadeeshangal
Litany of Kadeeshangal
A historical note on ancient Quilon
‘Quilon’ was a famous port and trading centre in Kerala next to ‘Kodungallore’ in popularity and importance in the early centuries. Kallan Saip, the British Resident who did excavations at Quilon, says that Quilon was built on coral reefs. The Portuguese clergy man, ‘Mafayus’ opines that once upon a time Quilon was one of the richest ancient towns in India. It is as if nature picked Quilon and blessed it in many ways. The river ‘Kalladayar’ flows down the Western Ghats via Kollam into the Arabian Sea?. The beautiful Ashtamudi Lake was once a Bay formed by the Arabian Sea in Quilon. Kurakkeni Kollam was the old Quilon port which was situated somewhere near Thevalakara and Kallada. It was in Kallada river, at the mouth of the Kallada river to the Ashtamudi lake. The new (present) Quilon port and city was developed by Marwan Sapir Eso during the 9th century after the Persian immigration.
Quilon had trade links with eastern and western countries from ancient days. It is believed that there was a Chinese settlement in Quilon as most of the Chinese ships docked in Quilon for trade. The main attraction of Quilon was the abundance of spices like pepper and cinnamon which grew plenty in Kerala. In return they supplied the local traders the Chinese fishing nets, pottery and silk. The gigantic Chinese jars were popular from those days and can be seen even today in the homes of ancient families.
In the middle ages, travelers, sailors and traders from all over the world came to Quilon. Some say ‘Marwan Sapir Eso’ dredged the surrounding Sea to make Quilon a port city. It became a safe port for ships to dock and its environmental uniqueness helped to retain its attraction. Like most of the towns of that time Quilon also had a fort surrounding it. Not much is known about the history of Quilon between the 1st and the 8th century. By the 9th century Quilon gained dominance politically and commercially. This town was also known for the doctors who specialized in traditional treatment for ailments of the eye. There was a petty kingdom called Jayasimhanad, centered on Quilon city, which was later known as Bhedinganadu. Bhedinganadu became Desinganadu later. We would see description regarding Desinganadu in the historical documents starting from 13 A.D. Queen of Desinganadu was a famous personality . During 1741 AD king Marthanada Varma invaded this petty kingdom and added this to Travancore state.
The Christians of Kerala believe that St. Thomas came to Kerala and Christianity took root here in the 1st century AD. It is believed that he had set up seven and a half churches in Kerala of which one was in Quilon and was presumably destroyed by natural disaster. One of the ancient visitors, ‘Dayarata Barbose’ who came to Quilon in AD 1514 mentions the existence of a church built on land jutting into the sea.
Kollam is referred to in travelogues, legends and historical accounts by many names. ‘Male’, ‘Kaulam Male’, ‘Choolam’, ‘Kiyulen’, ‘Kulam’, ‘Quilon’, ‘Quiloon’, ‘Kolumbam’, ‘Kolliyon’, ‘Quilon’, ‘Kolon’ are various names by which Quilon was known at various times. Etymologists think the name Quilon is a combination of two words, ‘Ko’ meaning King and ‘Illam’ meaning house ; the meaning of Quilon according to this view is ‘Residence of the King’. Some experts trace a Chinese connection. ‘Kowloon’ in Chinese refers to an urban place. It could be that since Quilon was also a prosperous town they called it Kowloon which became Quilon with time.
Alkhas Vini (AD 1203-1283) describes Quilon in his travelogues. He found pottery made in Quilon no less in quality than the ones made in China. The land was covered with teak forests with trees growing to the height of over 50 metres and coconut palm groves laden with coconuts. A clergyman called Jordan who visited Quilon in 1324AD refers to the commercial status of the town
Kollam played a major role in the cultural history of Kerala. Quilon was not just a commercial town but since it was the capital of Venadu it was culturally active. It was the haven of artists, musicians, poets and literati. The legendary poet Ravi Varma Kulasekaran is a well-known poet beyond the ages. Quilon is mentioned in the works like ‘Unnineeli Sandesam’, ‘Shukra Sandesam’ and ‘Mayura Sandesam’. Here is a paraphrase of lines from Mayura Sandesam.
Once you lay your eyes on Kollam, her charms entice you so much you willingly desert your home. As years go by her charms and progressiveness make the city grow in stature making it truly a capital of the kingdom.’
Kollam Kadeesha Syrian Church
Kollam Kallada Malayil Muthalalys Family
It is believed that a Persian merchant named Sapir Eso (otherwise known as Bar Jesu Muthalaly or Job),came to India along with a group of Christian families, including two Persian Bishops belongingto the “Augen Deyarah namely, Mar Sabore and Mar Aphroth (Kadeeshangal) landed at Quilon during 825.A.D, from Mesopotamia. Though the records state that the leader was Job aka Bar Jesu the official records as inscribed in the copper plates refer to him as ‘Marwan Sapir Eso’. The word ‘Marwan ’ in Syriac language means ‘Lord’. His descendants were referred to as ‘Thareesakal’ which means ‘orthodox’ Christians (Marthoma Christians. Page 1045), later known as kollakaran muthalalys.
Quilon was the capital of Venad kingdom. In the 5th year of the reign of Sthanu Ravi, the king of the Chera Kingdom, the ruler of Venadu, Ayyanadikal Thiruvadikal bequeathed to Marwan Sapir Eso, land in Quilon for building a church and setting up a commercial town. The ruler not only exempted the land from all taxes but also bestowed on him many privileges and benefits. Marwan Sapir Eso built a church in Thevally, Quilon on the 26th of Makaram, (Karkadakoor chingam rasi) in the 1st year of the Malayalam Calendar (kollavarsham). It was known as ‘Thareesa palli’. The QLN Copper plates, Trav: Archy, vol, 11, pp60-85 documented this. These Copper plate records the gifts given to Thareesapalli by Ayyanadikal Thiruvadikal’ the first ruler of Venadu and hence he is remembered with gratitude by the Christians here. The ‘Panankavil Palace’ was also famous place in Quilon. (Malayala Manorama 04-11-2011)
Marwan Sapir Eso established himself as a merchant of great fame. His treasury in Quilon stocked spices like Pepper and Cinnamon which were of great demand amongst the traders who came to Quilon. He had trade links with countries across the seas and probably that is why people believe that he was primarily responsible for the transformation of Quilon into a thriving port town providing all the facilities and amenities needed by tradesmen. His contribution to the kingdom was such that the Chera King decided to start the Malayalam calendar (kollavarsham) from the year Marwan Sapir Eso landed in his kingdom, it is a historical truth. His descendants were referred to as Muthalalys by the people of Quilon. (The decendants of Marwan Sapir Eso lived in various parts of Desinganad during the 16th century (1516AD). they were being called “kollakkaran Muthalalyees” by neighbouring countrymen). As Quilon town grew in power and wealth, the Christians who were in great part instrumental in the town’s growth also prospered. Conversion and reconversion is not a recent phenomenon. In AD 315 one Manikavachar whom people believed to have had supernatural powers reconverted around 116 Christians into their original faith, Hinduism.
In the 12th century ‘Kulothugacholan’(1090-1102 AD) attacked Quilon and burned down the city.
The Muthalalys were hospitable people. They gave asylum to the Roman Catholic emissary to China who was affected with Small Pox. He was treated as a royal guest by the Muthalalys and was given 100 gold sovereigns per month for his needs. It is claimed that there are records where it is mentioned that the Syrian Christians of Quilon gave him a gift of 1000 gold sovereigns on his departure. Muthalalys had immense wealth as they controlled the pepper market (Cathy and the way thither vol.111.p.257)
In the beginning of the 14th century according to the descriptions of Rev. Odorik Christians and Jews lived in harmony at Quilon, the commercial centre for pepper. The Malayalam book ‘Unnineeli Sandesam’ written in the same time also mentions that ships used to dock at Quilon for trade.
In the 15th century a Chinese sailor named ‘Ma huan’ mentions the existence of the Syrians in Quilon. He talks about the wealthy Syrians which can only be an indirect reference to the Muthalalys. It is also mentioned that these Christians had big pepper plantations and coconut groves. Pepper was also referred to as black gold as those days 1 kg pepper would fetch 26 gold sovereigns.
The decline of the Syrian Christians and the Muthalalys started with the arrival of the Portuguese at Quilon. There were more than 6000 Syrian Christians when the Portuguese representative Albuquerque came to Quilon. (‘Through the ancient Christian centres’). They were persecuted to such an extent that many fled to neighbouring places away from the Portuguese. The local ruler was so moved by their plight. Seeing their faith and devotion he encouraged them to move to safer havens like Chathannoor. Once the Portuguese became powerful, the Latin Catholic church came into dominance. Though the Portuguese tried to use force to convert the existing Christians into Catholicism, the surviving Muthalalys of Quilon resisted it and held onto their faith and traditions.
in 825 AD, Marwan Sapir Eso had built Tharissappally at kollam exactly at the spot where
Thevally palace had been constructed in later years. In1320 AD due to the latinization by the catholic missionaries, thareeshapally became a latin church and came under the latin ecclesiastical hierarchy. Later in 1505 AD the portuguese came to kollam and fortified the region. During this period majority of kollakkaran muthalalees who stayed over at Thankassery had been expelled from this region because of their indifference to latinization and portuguese political dominance.
In that situation they built another church approximately 1/2 katham(1 mile or 1.6KM) away from the thankassry port . This church named KOLLAM KADEESHA SYRIAN CHURCH is referred to us the first syrian church in quilon.
Mukilan’s invasion of venad is presumed to have occurred during malayalm era 855(AD1680). Mukil warlord who attacked venad during the reign of umayamma rani. In 1808AD during the time of Velu Thampi Dalava, he could not succeed in the conflict between the British. So he started revenging on the Christians of Kollam are descendants of the Persian trader Marwan Sapir Eso.
In 1840, five of the grandsons of the Kollakkaran Muthalaly moved to Kallada and settled down there. This branch came to be known as ‘Kallada Malayil Muthalalys’. On this branch is endowed the ownership of the church (the ownership of the kollam kadeesha syrian church had been entrusted to kollam kallada malayil muthalalys by the partition deed in 1900. This verdicts had been signed by chathanoor muthalalays and kollam kallada malayil muthalalys) and till date every year they organise a service in memory of the ‘Kadeesas’ on 2nd of the Malayalam month ‘Vrichikam’. Kollam Kadeesa Syrian Church established during 1519. AD, by the descendants of Marwan Sapir Eso, a Persian merchant, is owned by Kallada Malayil Muthalaly’s family. The connection between the Kallada Malayil Muthalaly’s family and Kollam Kadeesa Syrian Church is unique and inseparable. One cannot exist without the other.
In 1808 AD during the time of Velu Thampi Dalava, he could not succeed in the conflict between the British. So he started revenging on the Christians of Kollam. He ordered the Kollam Christians to either convert to Hinduism and become Nairs or hand over their gold and silver ornament to him and leave the town and go to the interior parts of the Venad kingdom. Many of them got converted to Nair and left out Christians travelled to the interior parts of the Venad kingdom. After that he destroyed the Tharissapally church and put fire. As wikipedia on “battle of Quilon” Veluthambi and British fought 6hrs war at contentment maithan on 15th janurary 1809. Thareeshappally as destroyd due to revenge the christians of kollam to supporting the british. Colonel McColly forced veluthambi out of quilon.
After the war Col. Mccolly visited the Tharissapally. From the remains of the Tharissapally they got the Tharissapally copper plates without any damage. Copper plates are two sets . The first set consisted of three plates .One is kept in the orthodox catholicate palace, kottayam and another by the pulatheen aramana , Marthoma church at Thiruvalla.The third plate is considered to have been lost. The second set has four plates .Three of which are kept by the orthodox catholicate palace kottayam and one by pulatheen aramana Thiruvalla. Later those plates were handed over to Syrian Christians (Jacobite).They kept it in old seminary at Kottayam. When Abraham Malpan of Palakunnethu family was in charge of the Kottayam Jacobite seminary, he started the reformation process in the Malankara church with the support of the British. Later he shifted two of the three plates available at Kottayam old seminary to Thiruvalla Mar Thomas seminary. So now we can see two copper plates of Tharissapally in Thiruvalla and another at Kottayam.
‘The Malankara Sabhadeepam 2007 September 16’ describes the Muthalalys, this way. ‘The Kallada Malayil Muthalalys are descendants of Christians who came from Persia of their own free will, flourished as tradesmen and made Quilon their home and swore allegiance to the ‘Catholicate’. They continue to live up to their heritage.
‘The Persian Cross’ is a good example for the Persian connection of the Malankara church. The four ends of the cross is a typical Persian design. In Malayalam the cross is called ‘Persian claver kurisu’. The three petals like design are of great significance. It symbolises the trinity, 3 nails on the cross, the three hours Jesus spent on the cross, the 3 women (all Marias) etc.
The word ‘Kadeesha’ which is used to refer to Mar Sabor and Mar Aphroth is a corruption of the word ‘Qadishangal’ from Syriac meaning the Holy ones. Churches were established by the Kadeeshas, one in Kayamkulam in AD 828, another one in Kaduthuruthy in AD 830, and the third one in Udyamperoor AD 832. In AD 834 two churches were set up in Angamali and Akaparambubut under the same parish. Though a church was set up in Kodungaloore by Mar Aphroth later it was abandoned due to attacks by Muslims. He moved back to Udayamperoor and Mar Sabor settled down in Quilon. There is a direct reference to this in the book ‘Varthamanam’ (page 418) by ‘Paremaakal Govarnador’. It is mentioned that Malankara Sabha was divided into two; one bishop managed the northern part and the other the southern part. The Orthodox Liturgy is a blend of Syriac and Malayalam. It is believed that these Kadeeshas were responsible for the restoration and rebuilding of the Kottakavu church established by St. Thomas. (Kottakavu Palli Smaranakal). The Kudamaloor Catholic Church was also built by the Kadeeshas. It can be assumed that they were responsible for setting up many of the churches built in that period.
There were forceful attempt by the Goan Archbishop Alexis Menezis to make the Malankara Church a part of the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. He believed that the key cause of the spread of Nestorian faith was the use of Syriac language in the liturgy used by the Malankara church. He made sure that all the religious books in Syriac were destroyed. Fortunately one bible survived and it is kept in the British museum.
The Udayamperoor Synod declared the Kadeeshas as Nestorians and their status as ‘the Holy ones’ of the Malankara church was removed. As a result the churches known as the Kadeesha churches were declared as The Churches of All Saints (19th cannon of the Synod). This act was based purely on conjecture. ‘Lekin’s writings prove this; his accounts do not mention Mar Sabor and Mar Aphroth in the list of the bishops sent by the Nestorian Patriarch of Seleucia. This edict was rejected by the Muthalalys and they retained the position of the Kadeeshas as Holy Men and the church in Quilon till date is called ‘Kadeesha Palli’.
The Bishops Mar Sabor and Mar Aphroth were neither Nestorians nor Roman Catholics. The book called Gerald Day by the historian states that these Bishops were not of the Roman Catholic faith. The fact that before the Crusades there was no Roman Catholicism in the East is well known. It can be assumed that these Bishops set sail with Marwan Sapir Eso for India with the sole intention of providing spiritual guidance to the families and to spread Christianity. They were true evangelists bent on spreading the Word of God and establishing churches. Their tombs are unmarked and unknown which is probably due to the spiritual lives they led, not wanting name or fame.
Kollam Tareesapplly was established by Marwan Sapir Eso, after the Promulgation and granting of Tareesapplly Copper Plate to Marwan Sapir Eso.There is a historical misconception among the historians and the Christian community that the Tareesapplly was established by Mar Sabore and Mar Aphroth. But it is a historical and debatable. Because we have strong and convincing historical documents(The QLN Copper plates, Trav: Archy, vol, 11, pp60-85 documented this.) to prove the establishment of Tareesapplly by Marwan Sapir Eso and not by Mar Sabore and Mar Aphroth.
Latin Arch bishop Francis Ros testifies that kadeeshangal made miracles during their life time. The feast day of the kadeeshanmar was celebrated on 19th of May. Mar Aphroth also lived in Diamper(Udayamperoor) was buried at Udayamperoor itself, but there is no consensus of opinion regarding the place of burial, is still a dilemma for the historians. Whereas Mar Sabor travelled to southern part of Kerala and it is believed that he was entombed at Kollam.
Some people have the opinion that Mar Abbo and Mar Sabor are the names of the same persons. But we believe that these are the names of two person and Mar Abbo was the one who came to Kerala from the catholicate see of pigiris in the year of 905 AD and landed at Kadamattom, later travelled towards Thevalakkara.
According to Alexander Muthalaly (Princly), he had close relationship between the hindu-muslim families during his stay at kollam during 1950s and 1960s. The Muslim family Abdul Rahman and Moideenkutty, eachamveedu ; AA Rahim and his son Anzar , Maaliyekkalveedu ; Shahul hameed, Kayikkara and hindu family of major Sankarankutty Ephbiamveedu. All these family members are the members or descendants of kollakaran muthalays. He testified that availing this historical fact he kept a cordial as well as the brotherly relationship with all these hindu-muslim families and their members.
It is believed that the traditional nercha (vellayappam & pazham) distributed during the feast day of the kadeeshapally only after the members of all the above mentioned families (hindu-muslim) lighted the lamp at the parish premise. The hindu-muslim members were actively participated in all the family matters.
The boundary of the city of kollam which was under the governance of Marwan Sapir Eso includes ashtamudi lake to the north, Arabian sea on the south, land polayathod on the east and punnathala on the west.
Marwan Sapir Eso and Mar Sabo There is a historical confusion regarding the identity of Marwan Sapir Eso and Saphireso. The two names are different and which represent two different persons Mar Sabore (Saphireso) denotes Marwan Sapir Eso, who was a Persian merchant came to India during 825.A.D. Whereas Saphireso was the that Bishop who came along With the merchant Marwan Sapir Eso. Miscommunication and mispronunciation of this two names brought lot of Confusion among the historians and we would like to clarify that this two names represent two person,one represent lay man/merchant and the other represent a Bishop. Marwan Sapir Eso>»>Merchants• Mar Sabore (Saphireso) »»Bishop •
The term ‘Mar’ in syriac is used only for bishops or metropolitans. Marwan Sapir Eso is wrongly named as Mar Sabirisho in many monographs and webliographies. We would like to clear it only by saying that there is no mar Sabarisho but only Marwan Sapir Eso also is the one who founded kollam kadeesha Syrian church.
It is believed that Marwan Sapir Eso founded a ashram at chayal near to the church which was founded by St Thomas the apostle. Marwan Sapir Eso lived in that ashram until death and he was buried in a place in between the church and the ashram. The tomb was located just opposite to the hindu temple nearby river pamba at nilakkal. According to the alakkal family history due to the wars and conflicts between the chola, chera and pandya kingdomas all these historical monuments or sites were destroyed or demolished.
Every member of the Muthalay’ family must be aware that their past and present are deeply entwined with the history of the Malankara church and it is up to the family members to ensure that this contribution is remembered and honoured.
The above mentioned history is based on the historical documents and oral traditions which have been transmitted to us through centuries by our predecessors. IT COULD BE DEBATABLE BUT WE FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT IT IS THE HISTORY OF THE KOLLAM KADEESA SYRIAN CHURCH AND THE KOLLAM KALLADA MALAYIL – MUTHALALY’S FAMILY.
muthalys.com first launched on 23/03/2008
Upgraded on 12/03/2019
- Information of Kollam Christian’s. by Msgr. A.J. Rosario.
- Orthodox church of India. by David Danel.
- The Indian churchs of St.Thomas. by E. M. Philip.
- Autobiography of K. M .Daniel.
- Family history of Thulassery Manapuram.
- Family history of Alackal, at Nilackal.
- Sources from internet.
- പുരാതന ക്രൈസ്തവ കേന്ദ്രങ്ങളിലൂടെ. മാത്യു മടുക്കാകുഴി
Kollam Kadeesha Syrian Church Frescoes
Kollam Kadeesha Syrian Church building
The building of the Kadeesha Syrian Church established in AD 1519 has been left mostly untouched. The roofing has undergone changes. Initially the church had a thatched roof which was replaced by copper sheets after the year AD 1900. In AD 1940 as part of renovation work, the church was given a tiled roof. The original doors were only 4 feet high and wee shaped like an arch typical of the times when the church was built. These were replaced at the same time with the doors that have been there since then.
The original building was a simple structure for people to worship in. By 1973 the church was given a face lift by adding on a ‘Mukappu’ and an extension in front to accommodate more people when necessary. At all times effort was made to leave the initial structure in tact. Our church continues to remain as a true heritage building reminding the world of our ancestors and our faith.
Missionary and Syrian priest outside church, Quilon, India, ca.1900-1910 Ancient Syrian church at Quilon. Missionary and Syrian Priest.”. Missionary and priest standing in front of church. One of a number of prints captioned and pasted onto numbered boards used by the London Missionary Society for reference and publications
Founder of Culcutta Diocese
Rev. Father K. Mathai, Rev Father VM James, Rev Father Dr Mathew Baby served the parish for a short period of time (2 to 3 years). While the other two Rev Father WA Cherian (13 years) and Rev Father Dr John Mathew (11 years) served this parish as vicar for a lengthy period of times. These 5 priest were consecrated as bishops in our church, this a rare one in malankara. We are proud to have 5 bishops from our kollam kadeesha Syrian church.