The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church was founded by St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, who came to India in A.D 52. At least from the fourth century the Indian Church entered into a close relationship with the Persian or East Syrian Church. From the Persians, the Indian inherited East Syrian language and liturgies and gradually came to be known as Syrian Christians. In the sixteenth century Roman Catholic missionaries came to Kerala. They tried to unite the Syrian Christians to the Roman Catholic Church and this led to a split in the community. Those who accepted Catholicism are the present Syro – Malabar Catholics. Later Western Protestant missionaries came to Kerala and worked among Syrian Christians; that also created certain splits in the community. In the seventeenth century the church came to a relationship with the Antiochene Church which again caused splits. As a result of this relationship the Church received West Syrian liturgies and practices. The Church entered into a new phase of its history by the establishment of the Catholicate in 1912. At present the Church is using the West Syrian liturgy. The faith of the Church is that which was established by the three Ecumenical Councils of Nicea (A D 325), Constantinople (A D.381) and Ephesus (A D 431). The Church is in communion with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches namely, Antiochene, Alexandrian, Armenian, Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox churches. The church is in good ecumenical relationship with the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches. At present the church has over 2 million faithful all over the world.
Madras City, hallowed and blessed by the martyrdom of St.Thomas the Apostle, has been the Headquarters of the Madras Diocese belonging to the Orthodox church of India for the last 33 years. From the very inception, this Diocese has made commendable strides in developmental and charitable activities for the welfare of the people in Tamil Nadu.\nParishes of the Madras Diocese were formerly consisted in the Calcutta Diocese and its first Bishop was late H.G Dr. Stephanos Mar Theodosius. In 1979, a separate Diocese of Madras was formed and late H.G Zachariah Mar Dionysius took charge as the Metropolitan. After the solemn demise of H.G Zachariah Mar Dionysius in 1997, the Diocese was handed over to H.G Dr. Yakob Mar Irenaios. The Diocese celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 2004 and launched several charitable and social development programmes. During the last 25 years several new parishes, orphanages, educational institutions, student centres and mission projects were established. Territorial and institutional growth caused the Diocese to be divided into three Madras, Bangalore and Brahmavar Dioceses.
The New Madras Diocese is led by H.G Dr.Yuhanon Mar Diascoros Metropolitan and it consists of Tamil Nadu, Andaman Nicobar islands, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore. Even though the Diocese celebrated its Silver Jubilee and received ample recognition for its development, the unexpected division has caused to term the Diocese an infant again. The infant Diocese of Madras needs to have strong vision and planning. Spiritual Leadership and lay support is essential to build up to its desirable stature.
There are several mission projects undertaken by the Diocese like: Home for the differently abled, a Community Centre at Vellore that offers accommodation and guidance for those who visit CMC Hospital for treatment, Mission Centre empowering women and children at Thoothukudi, Centre for Rehabilitating HIV (+ve) patients, a school catering to the needs of the poor and the needy; to name a few.