Overview of the Archeparchy

Overview of the Archeparchy



Ad futuram rei memoriam. In Universi Christiani gregis regendi munere Nobis divinitus commisso Nostrum praesertim esse ducimus eos Ecclesiis fines terminare qui cum praesidum optatis, tum fidelium bono apprime respondeant. Hac mente ad ducti quo gentis Syro-Malabaricae fidei ac pietati melius consultum sit novum Vicariatum Apostolicum in illorum regione constituere decrevimus. In hac enim natione rec. me. Leo PP. XIII Dec. Noster suis hisce similibus litteris die duodetricesimo Julii anno MDCCCXCVI datis, tres Apostolicos Vicariatus id est Trichurensem, Ernakulamensem et Changanachernsem condidit, eisque tres antistites ex ipso Syro-Malabarico populo delectos praeficiendos censuit et curavit. Nunc vero cum tres Vicarii Apostolici eorumdem, quos supra memoravimus, Vicariatuum, initis inter se consiliis per epistolam diei primi Martii huius vertentis anni a Nobis enixe petierint, ut ad spirituali illarum regionum commoditati satius prospiciendum et ad dissidentium animos consiliandos novus Apostolicus Vicariatus in urbe vulgo “Kottayam” nuncupata erigeretur. 

Nos ominibus rei momentis cum VV. FFr. NN. S.R.E. Cardinalibus S. Congregationis Christiano nomini propagando pro negotiis ritus orientalis mature ac sedulo perspectis, huiusmodi preces benigne excipere, atque Directory 202428 Papal Bull illi preafatae nationi benevolentiae Nostrae pignus exhibere statuimus. Quare motu proprio, ex certa scientia ac de potestatis Nostrae plenitudine a duplici Vicariatu Apostolico Ernakulamensi et Changanacherensi omnes paroecias et Ecclesias- Suddisicas dismembramus easque in novum Vicariatum Apostolicum in urbe vulgo “Kottayam” pro gente Suddistica constituimus. Quis idcirco complectatur omnes Ecclesias et Sacella pertinentia ad Deccanatum Kottayamensem et Kaduthuruthensem in Vicariatu Apostolico Chenganacherensi una cum Ecclesiis Suddisticis Apostolici Vicariatus Ernakulamensis.

 Haec volumus ac precipimus, decermentes praesentes litteras firmas, validas, efficaces semper existere et fore suosque plenarios et integros effectus sortiri et obtinere, illisque ad quos spectat et in posterum spectabit in omnibus et per omnia plenissime suffragari, sicque in praemissis esse iudicandum, atque irritum esse et inane si secus super his a quoquam quavis auctoritate scienter vel ignoranter contigerit attentari. Non obstantibus Nostrae Cancellariae Apostolicae regula de iure quaesito non tolenda aliisque Constitutionibus Apostolicis in contrarium facientibus quibuscumque. Datum Rmae apud S. Petrum sub anulo Piscatoris die XXIX Augusti MCMXI Pontificatus Nostri Anno Nono.  




Raffaele Card. Merry del Val

a Secretis Status



For the future record of the fact. In the office divinely entrusted to us for governing the Universal Christian flock we consider it especially ours to determine for the churches such boundaries which correspond to the good of the faithful and to the desires of those who preside over them. For this reason in order to provide better for the faith and piety of the SyroMalabar people we have decreed to constitute a new Apostolic Vicariate in their region. For this people our predecessor of happy memory Pope Leo XIII by a letter similar to this dated July 28, 1896, established three Apostolic Vicariates, namely of Trichur, Ernakulam and Changanacherry and thought it fit to appoint over them three prelates selected from among them. Now, however, since the three Vicars Apostolic of the same above mentioned Vicariates, after mutual consultation have insistently petitioned us by a letter, dated March 1 of this year, that a new Apostolic Vicariate may be erected in the town commonly called Kottayam in order to satisfactorily cater to the spiritual needs of those regions and to reconcile the minds of the dissidents, we having maturely and diligently considered all the important facts of the matter with our venerable brethren the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church in the Sacred Congregation of propagating the Christian Name for the Affairs Directory 2024Papal Bull 30 of the Oriental Rite, decided to kindly accept such request and show proof of our benevolence to the aforesaid nation. Therefore, by motu proprio, with sure knowledge and fullness of our power we separate all the Southist parishes and churches from the two Apostolic Vicariates of Ernakulam and Changanacherry and constitute them into a new Apostolic Vicariate in the town commonly known as “Kottayam” for the Southist people. On that account it shall include all the churches and chapels pertaining to the Kottayarn and Kaduthuruthy foranes in the Apostolic Vicariate of Changanacherry and also the Southist churches of the Apostolic Vicariate of Ernakulam. We want and command these things, decreeing that this letter shall always exist firm, valid and efficacious, and shall gain and obtain full and integral effect and shall most fully favour in all things and every way those whom it pertains and shall pertain in the future, and thus it must be judged invalid and void if it happens to be tampered with by any one of whatever authority knowingly or unknowingly. Not withstanding our Apostolic Chancery’s rule of not removing the acquired right, and whatever other Apostolic constitutions to the contrary, Given at Rome before St. Peter under the fisherman’s ring on the 29th day of August 1911, in the ninth year of our pontificate.




R. Card. Merry del Val

Secretary of State.



Eparchy of Kottayam was erected exclusively for Southist (Knanaya) Catholics in 1911. Knanaya Community tracks its origin to a group of Jewish-Christian emigrants from Southern Mesopotamia to the Southern Indian port of Cranganore in AD 345, who remains an endogamous community till date. They coexisted with the native St. Thomas Christians in India and embarked on a mission to re-invigorate the Church of St Thomas. The first migrants consisted of about 400 people from 72 families of 7 septs headed by Thomas of Kynai. A bishop by name Uruha Mar Yauseph, four priests and several deacons formed part of the group. Exactly as the Catholicos of East had promised the emigrants that he would send bishops to India, from time to time, Uraha Mar Yousef always had successors till the end of 16th century. Under the patronage of East Syrian Bishops, Knanaya Community had their own separate parishes and priests. 

This system continued even under Latin Rite European bishops, who governed the St Thomas Christians later. When ritual separation between Orientals and Latins was executed among Kerala Catholics, in 1887, all Knanaya Catholics, de facto, fell under the Apostolic Vicariate of Kottayam. Holy See asked Bishop Charles Lavigne to appoint a separate Vicar General for Knanaya Community. As Vicariates Apostolic were re-organized into Trichur, Ernakulam and Changanacherry and three indigenous bishops were appointed for Syro-Malabarians in 1896, the bishop nominated for the Vicariate of Changanacherry Directory 20244 was Mar Mathew Makil, former Vicar General for Knanaya Community. On August 29, 1911, a new Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam was erected solely for Knanaya Community by the Apostolic letter “In Universi Christiani” by His Holiness Pope St. Pius X. On December 21, 1923, Vicariate Apostolic of Kottayam was raised to an Eparchy by Pope Pius XI. When territorial limits of Syro-Malabar Church was extended in 1955, jurisdiction of Eparchy of Kottayam was made co-extensive with the then extended territory of the Syro-Malabar Church.

 On December 23, 2003, His Holiness Pope John Paul II made a sovereign promulgation (Pro Gente Suddistica) that the status quo of Eparchy of Kottayam must be retained and he left it to the Bishops’ Synod of Syro-Malabar Church to decide on the desired enhancement of the juridical status of the Eparchy of Kottayam. In November 2004, the Synod gave consent to elevate Eparchy of Kottayam to the rank of a Metropolitan See without a Suffragan Eparchy. On March 21, 2005, Congregation for Oriental Churches issued a letter of no-objection to the decision of the Bishop’s Synod. Accordingly, on May 9, 2005, Major Archbishop Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil issued the Decree “The Eparchy of Kottayam” elevating Eparchy of Kottayam to the rank of a Metropolitan See. Through another decree, “God our loving father”, he appointed Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry, first Metropolitan of the newly erected Metropolitan See of Kottayam.

 On June 3, 2005, feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, at a liturgical service, Major Archbishop canonically erected the Metropolitan See of Kottayam, ordained and enthroned Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry, first Metropolitan of Kottayam. Mar Mathew Moolakkatt assended as Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archeparchy of Kottayam on 14 January, 2006. On 15 November 2017, the Oriental Congregation granted the authority to the Archbishop of Kottayam to visit the Knanaya Catholics residing anywhere in the world and to keep correspondence with them.