History of Indian ChristianitySt. Thomas (one of the twelve Apostles of Christ) founded Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church in Kerala, India. It is believed that St. Thomas came to India, preached the gospel, established Church and died there as a martyr. He arrived in Cranganore (Kodungallore), Kerala, India in 52 A.D., preached gospel and founded churches at seven locations; Cranganore, Palur, Paraur, Gokkamangalam, Niranam, Chayal and Quilon and ordained prelates and priests from four Brahmin families, viz. Pakalomattom, Sankarapuri, Kali and Kalikavu. Later he proceeded to east coast of South India and from there to China and Malacca and on his return he was pierced to death at the modern St.Thomas Mount in Chennai and buried at Mylapore. In the 4th Century his relics were transferred to Edessa (Urha) according to the order of the Patriarch of Antioch. The transfer of relics from India on 3rd July is celebrated by the Syrian Christians in India as St.Thomas Day.
In the subsequent years, Christian congregations established by the Apostle weakened in numbers due to the lack of ecclesiastical relationship with the Church that was concentrated mainly in the Middle East. A turnaround to this situation happened in AD 345 when a large Christian group from the Syrian province of Roman empire, arrived in Malankara under the leadership of Knai Thoma. Among the said delegation from the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch included a Metropolitan by name Joseph of Edessa and a few priests who helped in the establishment of the Episcopacy in the Malankara Church. As a consequence of this migration, the entire community in Kerala came to be called SYRIAN CHRISTIANS, thus adopting the rituals and liturgies of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. The Syrian migrants were called as Knanaya Syrian Christians and the native Christians were referred to as Malankara Syrian Christians.
The local head of church in Malankara (India) is the Catholicose of the East. The Catholicose is under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch. He is consecrated by the Patriarch and presides over the Malankara Holy Synod.
The current Catholicose of the East is His Beatitude Baseliose Thomas I.