Coonan Cross Oath (1653)

Coonan Cross Oath (1653)
Coonan Cross Oath (1653)
Coonan Cross Oath or Koonan Kurishu Satyam was a public avowal by the Syrian Christians of Kerala taken on 3 January 1653 that they would not submit to the authority of the Latin Roman Catholics. The Oath was the direct result of the growing interference of Roman Catholic Church in their lives and their forceful conversion to Roman Catholicism.

However, the actual struggle started in 1599, with the Synod of Diamper conducted by the Portuguese authorities. The synod (council) was attended by 813 delegates and was presided by the Archbishop of Goa, Alexis De Menezes. Here, the Syrian Christian books were scrutinized and burnt. The mass of the Syriac liturgy was altered in conformity with the Latin mass. They broke the age long connection of the Kerala Church with the Patriarchate of Antioch and established the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff.

This led to the violent quarrel between the Syrian Christian and Portuguese authorities. Consequently, in response to a request made by the Syrian Christians, the Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch sent a Bishop named Ahatalla to Kerala in 1653. The Portuguese detained him on his way and news of  his detention broke out like a wild fire in the Syrian quarters. The agiated Syrians assembled in thousands in front of an ancient Cross in Mattancherry, tied a lengthy rope on it and holding on to it swore that they would never more obey the Latin Archbishop or the Jesuits. This oath is known as the “Oath of the Coonan Cross”.

The oath goes like this. "By the Father, Son and Holy Ghost that henceforth we would not adhere to the Franks, nor accept the faith of the Pope of Rome, nor any foreign rule"

This event marked a turning point in the history of Kerala Church by forming two distinct groups among the Kerala Christians. First, Roman Christian who honour the authority of Roman Pope and second Jacobites who denounced the authority of the Pope.

Source: Sajin Thomas Alex

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