Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church - Catholicate

Catholicate

The word "Catholicos" means "The General Head". It can be considered as equivalent to "Universal Bishop". There were only three ranks of priesthood in the early Church: Episcopos (Bishop), Priest, and Deacon. By the end of the 3rd century certain bishops of certain important cities in the Roman empire gained pre-eminence over other bishops and they came to be known as Metropolitans. The Ecumenical councils of the 4th century recognized the supreme authority of these Metropolitans. By the 5th century, the Bishops in major cities like Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch etc. gained control over the churches in the surrounding cities. Gradually they became the heads of each independent regional church and were called Patriarch which means common father. The same rank in the Churches outside the Roman Empire was called Catholicos. There were three ancient Catholicates in the Church before the 5th century. They were the Catholicate of the East, the Catholicate of Armenia and the Catholicate of Georgia. None of these ranks and titles are the monopoly of any church. Any Apostolic and national church has the authority to declare and call its head, Catholicos, Pope, or Patriarch.

St.Thomas established the church in India and is recognized as its first Head or Catholicos.

The reign of the Archdeacons started from the 4th century and lasted until the 16th century. The third stage started when the archdeacon was elevated to the position of a Bishop by the community with the name Marthoma I in 1653. Since then the head of the community was the Marthoma Metrans and later the position was developed to Malankara Metropolitan with more recognition.

In 1912, the Catholicate of the East was relocated to India, and Baselios Paulose I was seated on the Honorary Apostolic Throne of St.Thomas as the Catholicos of the East.

The Headquarters of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, named Devalokam, is located at Kottayam, in Kerala. It is the official headquarters of the Catholicos Of The East who reigns on the Supreme Throne of St. Thomas, the Apostle, and was established on 31 December 1951.

The new Aramana which was built in 1961 was inaugurated by the visiting Armenian Catholicos Vazgen I.

A portion of the holy relics of St. Thomas, the Apostle of India and Founder of the Church, is kept in the Catholicate Chapel. The mortal remains of Baselious Geevarghese II, Baselious Augen I, Baselious Marthoma Mathews I, and Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios Metropolitan are entombed in this Chapel.

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Catholicate

A catholicate or catholicosate is the area of responsibility (territorial or otherwise) of a catholicos, a leader within any of the several churches of Eastern Christianity, especially those regarded as Oriental Orthodoxy. The word is derived from the Greek Καθολικος, meaning "wholeness."

While a catholicos is sometimes considered to correspond to a bishop in the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions, a catholicate is typically a larger and more significant organizational division than a bishopric, archdiocese or episcopal see. Catholicates often have distinct cultural traditions established over many centuries.

For example, within the Armenian Apostolic Church there are two catholicosates: the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin, Etchmiadzin-Armenia, and the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, Antelias-Lebanon. In the 10th century, when Armenia was devastated by Seljuks, the Armenian church took refuge in Cilicia. In the 15th century, when Armenia was relatively peaceful compared to Cilicia, a new catholicos was elected in Etchmiadzin.

While some traditions favor the English language spelling "catholicate" and others favor "catholicosate." There is a degree of inconsistency in this regard. Others spellings, including "catholicossate", are seen as well.