Book 2  Continuation .....................

Alexander Valignano, Visitor of the Jesuits, came to India in 1574 with forty-four priests of that order and in an interview with Mar Abraham47 obtained the permission of Mar Abraham to enter his diocese. The Jesuits settled at Vaipicotta or Chennamangalam, about one mile from Cranganore, and there built a church and set up a printing press48. In 1581 at Vaipicotta they opened a College in which were trained for the priesthood any youths among the Thomas-Christians who had a vocation. In 1583 when Father Alexander Valignano returned from Japan he found awaiting him his appointment as Provincial of the Jesuits and he at once set to work on the systematic instruction of the Thomas- Christians. With the approval of Mar Abraham the Jesuit Fathers preached and catechized throughout his diocese. Also, they induced Mar Abraham to convoke a diocesan synod in this year 1583. At this synod Mass was celebrated in Syriac and in Latin, Mar Abraham made a profession of the Catholic Faith, the decrees of the Council of Florence were read, several points of reform were agreed to and a Jesuit acquainted with the Syriac language corrected the Syriac Missal. In the following year 1584 a Seminary was added to the College at Vaipicotta and in this Seminary the Syrian Priests were taught Portuguese, Latin and Syriac. The Jesuit Fathers found that priests with no knowledge of Syriac were not acceptable to the Thomas-Christians 49.

In 1585 was held the third Provincial Council at Goa and Mar Abraham attended the Council. His teaching and conduct were discussed. He made a profession of the Catholic Faith and was ordered by the Council to ordain anew certain priests whom he had ordained with an omission of ceremonial which the Council deemed to be essential. It is said that when the Nestorian Patriarch of Babylon heard of this adhesion of Mar Abraham to Rome he called upon Mar Abraham for an explanation and that Mar Abraham replied that he was compelled by force but had deceitfully made a Nestorian profession of Faith which the Portuguese bishops did not detect50. After this date the relations of Mar Abraham with the Latin clergy were not so friendly as they had been. In 1590 he refused to ordain the students of the Vaipicotta Seminary and in 1592 when he was summoned to attend the fourth Provincial Council at Goa he refused to appear. The Council thereupon excommunicated Mar Abraham and at the same time they excommunicated Jacob, the Vicar General of the deported Mar Simeon. Both men defied the Council and as they were beyond Portuguese territory they cound not be arrested. In 1595 Mar Abraham fell ill and was at the point of death. He called his clergy around him and advised them to adhere to Rome and he asked the Jesuit fathers who stood by his bedside to take care of the Church in his diocese. Some writers say that he then died, a Roman Catholic. Other writers say that he recovered from that illness, that in 1596 he wrote to the Nestorian Patriarch asking for a successor and that in 1597 he died a Nestorian, refusing admission to the Jesuit Fathers who went to his deathbed. He was buried in the church of St. Hormisdas51 in Angamale, a church he himself had built and consecrated. About the same time died the Vicar General Jacob.

Alexius de Menezes, one of the preachers at the court of King Philip II at Madrid, was appointed Archbishop of Goa in the year 1594, being then only thirty-five years of age, and in the following year, 1595, he landed at Goa. He held a Brief from Pope Clement VIII, dated 27th February 159552, empowering him to enquire into the teaching and conduct of Mar Abraham, to visit that diocese, to appoint a Vicar Apostolic to take charge of the diocese and to bring the Thomas-Christians into conformity with Rome. Before the Archbishop took any action on these powers, he received intelligence that the aged Mar Abraham had applied to the Nestorian Patriarch for a successor and he at once issued orders to all the Portuguese ports to stop any such bishop. These orders were in time and a Nestorian bishop and priest on their way to the Malabar coast were intercepted at Ormuz and were sent back to their own country53. The Archbishop was on tour in the north of the Portuguese territory when, through an express from the Viceroy of Goa, he received the news of the death of Mar Abraham. He at once appointed Father Francis Roz, S.J., the Rector of the Seminary at Vaipicotta as Administrator of the vacant Angamale diocese, but this appointment was kept back by the Council at Goa as unwise and the Archbishop, hearing their views, cancelled the appointment of Father Francis Roz and appointed the Syrian Archdeacon George as Administrator, directing him to make the usual profession of Faith. For some time the Archdeacon gave no sign but at last he plucked up courage to be openly hostile and to show his hand. At Angamale he assembled a Synod in which solemn resolutions were passed to acknowledge no bishops but those sent by the Nestorian Patriarch. The Latin priests and the pupils of the Vaipicotta Seminary were refused entrance into the Syrian churches and the rupture between the Syrian Christians and the Portuguese was complete. Hearing this news Archbishop Menezes at Goa resolved to go in person to the Angamale diocese and on the spot to endeavour to bring the Thomas-Christians into conformity with Rome. When the Archdeacon George heard that the Archbishop was on his way to Cochin, he yielded so far as to go through the form of giving a verbal assent to a profession of faith which the Franciscan Fathers read aloud to him in the Church at Vaipin54. The Archbishop landed at Cochin on February 1st 1599, and accompanied by Archdeacon George, went on tour to the various Syrian Churches. The narrative of his journey, told at length in Gouvea's Jornada, is reproduced by Hough in his Christianity in India, a book which is in the Trivandrum Library. The impression which a perusal leaves on the mind is that Archbishop Menezes must have been an exceptional man, of great personal influence over those with whom he came in contact. Difficulties which would have foiled the utmost efforts of an ordinary man seemed to disappear before him55 and finally, on the 20th June 1599 he succeeded in assembling the Syrians in a diocesan Synod at Udiamperur, called in history Diamper, a village at some distance on the south-east of Cochin. Resolutions had been prepared beforehand by the Archbishop's assistants and these resolutions were accepted and were signed as decrees of the Synod by one hundred and fifty-three Syrian priests and by six hundred lay proctors. This great task finished, the Archbishop continued his visitation of the diocese, going as far south as Quilon56, 57, and then he returned to Goa, where the death of the Viceroy had left him as the chief civil officer of Portuguese India. He had been absent from Goa only ten months, but into these ten months he had compressed work that would keep most men busy for ten years58. Before the Archbishop left the Syrian Christians he asked them to vote for a bishop of Angamale in place of the deceased Mar Abraham. The Christians chose the Archbishop and he sent on this nomination to Europe along with his resignation of the See of Go

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