Church of Our Lady of Life

One of the major events in the history of Christianity in the country - Koonan Kurishu Sathya or the, Oath by Bent Cross - took place at this church, on Bazaar Road in Mattancherry. This event led to the emergence of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India.

The Christians of Kerala, converted by St. Thomas, were under the Church of the East in Persia. In the early decades of the 16th century, the Portuguese tried to forcefully Latinise the Indian Christians. They wanted to represent the Christians in India and refused to recognize the Indian hierarchy. Towards this end, they started a Latin diocese in Goa and another in Kochi in the 16th century. Their continued attempts towards Latinisation reached peak point with the issue of the Synod of Diamper in 1599. Following this, the Portuguese started to impose Latinisation in the services and liturgies of the Christians here.
Resentment over these coercive measures of conversion grew and in January of 1653, the Christians in Kerala gathered under the leadership of Archdeacon Thomas (Mar Thoma I) at the Church of Our Lady of Life. There, they took an oath on the cross - the Koonan Kurishu Sathyam.

They vowed that they would not submit to Portuguese dominance and would not recognize any Portuguese Jesuit priest. The swearing marked a turning point in the history of Christianity in India as well as in the relations with the Portuguese colonialists. The immediate and direct result was the formation of a new Christian community known as Jacobites or Syrian Orthodox Christians.

The Oath
The congregation of Christians revolting against the Portuguese Padruado took the oath of non-submission while holding on to a rope that was tied to the cross, in order to accommodate everyone. The pressure on the cross bent it and gave it the name koonan kurishu, loosely translated as the crooked cross.

Dutch Palace in Ernakulam  



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