Letter written by Marthoma IV (1720)

To my Lord Ignatius, Patriarch of Antioch,

I, the poor Mar Thomas, fifth bishop of the Syrians of India, write and send.

In the name of Him who is eternal and of necessity exists, Thomas, the humble bishop of the orthodox Syrians of the India of St. Thomas, to him who sits in the seat of the Pontif, holy and glorious and magnificent, upon the throne of the principality of Peter the Prince of the Apostles: whom Our Lord has called by his grace and by his mercy has collected and firmly made to sit. Most beloved Father of Fathers, and Pastor of Pastors, who bindest and loosest with thy power in the highest and in the lowest, holy and holily sanctifying and resplendent with the triumph of the Apostles: who rulest upon the glorious soil of Antioch, which is celebrated and lovely through all the four quarters of the world in the world to come. Amen. Because thou art Patriarch the head of the universal Church of Christ, as was ordered by the three hundred and eighteen Fathers who were assembled at Nicea, and the steward of the house of God, obtaining the whole order of the Apostolic Church: and forasmuch as thou dost worthily govern the sheep, which are in the Oriental flock, always introducing all the sheep of thy flock into the fold by the gate, and when of all perishes, thou dost vehemently grieve; but when thou dost see it again thou dost greatly rejoice. Our father, who wast elect in the abundant blessings of Sion. Therefore I wish thee to be as a vessel chosen to receive the grace of the most high God. I beseech, my Lord, that thou mayest bless me with thy right hand full of graces, and I shall hear whatever may be said or enjoined to me by thy benign month, and I subject myself to the power of thy paternity. Wherefore may god bless thy See for ever and ever. Amen.

Lord, I am not worthy to worthily write to thy greatness. But we write and we send letters because of the necessities of the othodox Syrians of India, and we pray that thou mayest send to us one Patriarch and one Metropolitan, and twin priests, who may be philosophers and may understand the interpretations of the holy and divine scriptures. Previously there came to our country Mar Gregory, the fifth Patriarch of Jerusalem, and after him Mar Andeas Alvaeus and after him came a certain Maphrian Mar Basil Catholicus and with him Mar John the Metropolitan and the Rabban Matthaeus.

Since their death we drift like a ship without a rudder. If thou wilt come and wilt come to us, then as God the Father promised to the sons of Israel, so may Jesus Christ, the Merciful and the Ruler, deal with you and so may the Holy Spirit the Paraclete console you. Amen.

In the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and nine, there came a Metropolitan by name Gabriel the Ninivite, whom Mar Elias Catholicus sent to me. But he held such a faith as that Christ had two natures and persons: and therefore we did not believe him, except a certain priest called Mathew Beticutel and a few Portuguese Roman Catholics (paucos quosdam homines Francos Romanos). We, however, have not wisdom that we may answer him. Therefore we report it to thee, our Lord.

Charles, a Dutch Doctor, an Orientalist of repute, a learned man and a proved philosopher, our dearest and most beloved companion, dwells in Amsterdam, the first city of Holland. He has advised us that we may pro-ceed in this matter with one mind. We have written to him in order that this matter may be made known to Antioch; that you through the mercy of God may write one letter to the honourable Commandant who dwells in Cochin, which town is subject to the King of all India, and another letter to us; that it may bring help to us against our enemies and the infidel kings for ever: and that above all you will with the utmost care supplicate King Comphocius, who greatly honours the Dutch and is very illustrious among Kings. This King gives judgment in accordance with equity and receives the petitions of the poor and greatly honours all this nation. And all these honour Antioch and despise Rome: and they are right. Amen. My Lord, brilliant Ignatius, (Domino mi Ignati ignee) take action without delay and diligently look after all this business, forgetting no part of it, through the living God. Amen. Especially pray in order that we may obtain a blessing by your prayers. Pray to the beloved Father and the merciful Christ and the Holy Spirit the Protector, and the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and the Saints. Amen.

In the year of the epoch of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twenty, this epistle is written from Pharabur Patona, a church of St. Thomas the blessed Apostle, on the twentyfifth day of the month Elul (September). Amen. Our Father &c. The Gate of all India.

(In this letter Mar Thomas IV calls himself the fifth bishop of the Syrians in India. Because of this expression, Mr. Whitehouse has interpolated another bishop and has made this prelate Mar Thomas V. Mar Dionysius, the present Metropolitan of the Jacobites at Kottayam, in a note on this expression, suggests that Mar Thomas reckoned Bishop Chandy as the first. A better suggestion seems to be that in writing thus to the Jacobite Patriarch Mar Thomas reckoned as the first bishop Ahatalla or Mar Ignatius, the prelate stopped by the Portuguese in 1652. In this letter it seems clear that he makes a distinction between the ruling bishops, himself and his four predecessors, and the teaching bishops who occasionally came from Syria. Of these he mentions four, Gregory, Alvaeus, Basil and John.)

Source: Christianity in Travancore by Gordon Thomson Mackenzie, Trivandrum, 1901, pp. 86-87.