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Welcome to St. Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church, Kottayam

St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church is an ancient Orthodox Syrian Church situated in the prestigious town of Kottayam, in Kerala state, India, with His Holiness The Catholics of the East as its supreme head, better known as Kottayam Cheriapally. It is one of the oldest churches in Kerala, India. Built in 1579, the church is well preserved. The architectural style of the church is European, with galleries, pillars, cornices and pediments. The walls are adorned with beautiful murals made in Oriental and Western styles on biblical and non biblical themes.
The fact that 3 Metropolitans of the Orthodox Syrian Church emanated from 3 families of the Kottayam, is of great honor. They were H.G. Punnathra Mar Dianasious, Dr.Philipose Mar Theophilose and Yuhanon Mar Athanasius.
Hearty welcome to our site. We hope this site will provide you with assurance that your offerings/donations are received with profound respect, and are utilized to maximum effectiveness. It will also enable you to make the informed decisions that are necessary for a meaningful relationship with your church!
Fr. P A Philip
Vicar

Kottayam Cheriapally

St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Kottayam, commonly known as Kottayam Cheriapally, is a Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church located in Kottayam, Kerala, India. Cheriapally meaning ‘small church’, whose appearance contradicts its name, is one of the oldest and well-preserved churches in the state.
Cheriapally is located on the way to Kumarakom from Kottayam. The church is dedicated to mother Mary. Kottayam Cheriapally, built in 1579, has retained its old world charm today as well even after so much of environmental changes. The length and breadth of the church is constructed with innovative paintings, mural, and architecture. Before the inception of the Old Seminary in 1815, Kottayam Cheriapally was the Head quarters of the Church and Malankara Metropolitans for a long time.


HISTORY


Many stories and legends regarding the establishment and evolution of Christianity in Central Travancore surrounds this church. The legend is that the Thekkumkore (old Kottayam) kings were glad that Christians were living in their kingdom, as they were committed towards working hard to earn a living, and thus had taken the entire responsibility of their security. King Kothavarma, who was ruling the kingdom during that period, provided them land for constructing the church, without levying tax. A church was first built in 1550 and named Valiyapally. However, the congregation later split on ethnic lines and the dissidents built Cheriapally in 1579. It is said that two worship places were not permitted in a single village and thus the king had to divide the village into two so that both the churches could exist. The church was built by Portuguese architect Antony and his team along with the craftsmen of the Thekkumkore Kingdom (old Kottayam) in 1579. However, the Portuguese had no influence on the mode of worship in the church. It is typically dedicated to Syrian Christians. While visiting Cheriapally, one may feel that the architecture greatly resembles that of some temples in Kerala. However, the fact is that during those days, the mode of building every place of worship was the same, irrespective of it being a temple or a church. Kottayam's iconic Cheriapally Mahaedavaka is an architectural marvel and a repository of legends.

Holy Girdle of St. Mary



Kottayam Cheriapally has the unique distinction of being the first church in India to get the Relics of St. Mary (a small part of the Holy girdle of St. Mary) installed at the church. This relic is also known as the Soonoro or Holy belt of St. Mary. The Holy girdle was presented by Ignatius Yacub III, the Patriarch of Antioch to Baselios Augen I, the then Catholicos & Malankara Metropolitan who ceremoniously installed it at Kottayam Cheriapally on 16 January 1966. The holy girdle is kept in the church and is taken out for public viewing from 10 August to 15 August every year during the 15 days fast to commemorate the translation of St. Mary.

MURAL ARTS




Built in the Portuguese-Baroque-Keralite style, the church is a treasure trove of mural art. The extravagant collection of mural paintings at the altar of Cheriapally has been termed as a major breakthrough in the history of mural paintings throughout the world. The striking mural art on the church interiors depicts the major incidents in Jesus Christ's life. The eastern side of the church wall portrays the major happenings in the life of the Lord's mother.

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CHURCH ARCHITECTURE




The church exhibits a blend of Kerala and Portuguese styles of architecture. Its European architectural style galleries, large granite pillars, cornices and pediments make it an attractive building. The roof of the portico is supported by ten granite pillars and has a large lotus carved out of single piece of granite. Even the baptism basin inside the church has been chiseled from a single stone. The walls are strongly influenced by temple architecture.

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METROPOLITANS FROM OUR CHURCH






Punnathra Dionysius III




Dr. Philipose Mar Theophilose




Yuhanon Mar Athanasios



His Grace Geevargis Mar Dionysius III (1785 - May 19, 1825), also known as Punnathra Mar Dionysius, the 11th Malankara Metropolitan, Dr. Philipose Mar Theophilose (May 9, 1911 - September 28, 1997) a man of definite vision, mission and commitment, also known as the Ambassador of Malankara Church and Yuhanon Mar Athanasios (March 21, 1928 - October 12, 1980) also known as Abo Yuhanon are the proud sons of Kottayam Cheriapally.

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CHURCH FEAST



The Dormition of Mother Mary or holy Theotokos occupies the most important place in the Orthodox Church next to that of Jesus Christ. It is indeed a great feast which depicts ‘falling asleep’ of the Mother of God and taking her body up into heaven by angels.

The Feast of the Dormition of St. Mary (Vaangippu Perunnal or Shoonoyo Perunnal) is observed in this church on August 15. The feast of Dormition is celebrated by two weeks of fasting, known as the Dormition fast, beginning from 1 August to the 15th of August which draws many people from far and wide.

The annual feast of the church (Feast of St. Mary) falls on January 15 and is known as Vithukalude Perunnal which means ‘the festival of seeds’. It is observed to invoke the blessings of Virgin Mary upon the agricultural seeds.