Mar Sabor and Mar Proth
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Mar Sabor and Mar Proth

Mar Sabor (also known as Mar Abo) and Mar Proth (also known as Mar Aphroth) who came to India along with Maruvan Sapir Iso were two Bishops who built and presided over a number of churches in the Kingdom of Quilon operating in accordance with Saint Thomas Christians.

In 825 AD, the seaport of Quilon (now known as Kollam) was part of the Venad Kingdom. The then ruling monarch, Iyyanadikal Thiruvadikal, welcomed the monks on their arrival and showered them with special privileges and honours. Maruvan Sapir Iso built the Nilalkkal ashram near St. Thomas Church in Chayal, he died and buried in Chayal ashram.Mar Sabor and Mar Proth came from Dayro d-Mor Mattai ,Ninaveh - is located atop Mount Alfaf in northern Iraq and is 20 kilometers from Mosul

Mar Sabor and Mar Proth moved to various villages and established churches including Kadamattom St George Orthodox Syrian Church, Akapparambu, Kothanalloor, Kadisha Church in Kollam, Kadisha Church in Kayamkulam and then finally to present Thevalakkara Marthamariam Orthodox Church, where they died and were buried.


the Persian cross founded by Mar Sabor and Mar Proth at Kadamattom Church
Mar Sabor
Tomb of Mar Sabor at Marthamariam church, Thevalakkara

Christian writers claim that Mar Sabor and Mar Proth came from Persia or Chaldea at the invitation of the King Kuleshakara of Quilon (now known as Kollam) as an Authority for the Doctrine of Trinity against the background of a Shivate Revival of Advaita Vedanta propounded by Adi Shankara There is no documentary evidence that Kulasekhara invited Mar Sabor . According to available records Mar Sabor had to flee Persia because of persecution of Christians by the Zoroastrian ruler. . The start of the Malayalam era (ME), also referred to as Kollavarsham, is associated with Kollam.[1][2][3] The era was started by these East Syrian Saints who settled in Korukeni Kollam, near to the present Kollam.[4] some writers claim that the start of the ME has been dated to 825 AD, when a great convention was held in Kollam at the behest of King Kulashekhara. Kollam was an important town in that period. Velu Pillai's Manual does not show any documentary evidences. It is a mere narration of the imaginary stories of religious sects. The Hindu paper dated March 3, 2010, says that the research conducted by Dr. Jeyapraksh has established the fact that the Kollam varsha was fixed during the reign of Rajasekhara Varma Udayamarthanda. Two sessions of almanac experts took place in Kollam and Kozhikode. Thed Kollam session decided to make the first day of the Malayalam month Chingam as the New Year day.

V. Nagam Aiya in his Travancore State Manual records that in 822 AD two bishops Mar Sapor and Mar Peroz, settled in Quilon with their followers. Two years later the Malabar Era began (824 AD) and Quilon undoubtedly became the premier city of the Malabar region including Travancore and Cochin.[5] Nagam Aiya wrote the State Manual without quoting references and evidences. He simply accepted the imaginary stories of communal writers. There is nothing in the Kerala archives that Mar Sabor founded the Kollam and Thangasserry ports. Chera rulers were having commercial and maritime contacts with foreign countries long before Mar Sabor arrived at Kollam as a refugee. Sanghom literature speaks about Roman and Greek ships on Kerala coast.

M. G. S. Narayanan in his paper on the Chera-Pandya conflict in the 8th-9th centuries, which led to the emergence of Venad or the Kingdom of Quilon writes, "It is not surprising that the Chera king who was contemplating the development of the new harbour town at Kurakeni Kollam welcomed the monks and permitted him to introduce Syrian liturgy in worship other than Sanskrit liturgy following the shivite revival. This was the period when the Cera-Pandya conflict was developing in the south. The foundation of Kollam in 825 A.D. must have coincided with this victory of Chera in the Vel province. Therefore, it is easy to understand the anxiety of the Chera king to please Vaishanavites and allow the Assyrian Monks to settle at Kollam so that the harbour might grow quickly and compete effectively with Nillakal further south which had passed under the control of the Pandya. The Syrian Christian Monks who took advantage of the situation were equally clever and resourceful. In the absence of materials for a detailed history, it is difficult to ascertain whether Mar Abo was a (priest) or missionary. Perhaps he was both at the same time and there was no inherent contradiction between the two roles." Narayanan has referred to the enterprising spirit of Chera kings and how they welcomed merchants from abroad, and this does not give special significance to the arrival of refugee monks.

Narayanan also writes in Cultural Symbiosis in Kerala that "By the time of the Syrian Christian Copper Plates of the 9th century the foreign Christians and the Christians of Kerala who were just Nampoothiri Vaishnavites and Nairs had become part and parcel of the local village community." "The deity of the Tarsa Church was referred to the tevar. An important offering to the tevar was the sacred oil lamp as in the case of contemporary Brahmanical temples, is an indication to the fact that their conception of religion was shaped by local culture." Narayanan probably would have been carried away by the works of some Christian writers when he wrote "Cultural Symbiosis"that local converts were 'just Nampoothiri Vaishnavites". How could Christians become vaishnavites when the Bible categorically states that Christians should not worship pagan gods? Moreover, Persian missionaries who first came to Kollam. Vaishnava Vishnu worship was alien to the Persians missionaries and to the local converts converted by them.. Most western writers were also misled by the claim of parochial writers. Logan writes: " The final Brahman immigration seems to have occurred in or about the eighth century A.D. and Christian colonies had arrived in the country long before that time.: ( Logan, Malabar Manual, p. 201) Narayanan probably wanted to show the existence of various religious cultures in the Chera kingdom and this led to the symbiosis of all religions flourishing in the local culture. But later Narayanan corrected his earlier view and in his later writings has debunked the arrival of St. Thomas, calling it as a myth. This statement of Naraynan quashes any Brahnin conversion. What is more, Bishop Geevarghese Mor Corrillos of Kerala has warned Kerala Christians not to make any false and unacceptable claim to Brahmin ancestry without any historical evidence, as reported in Outlook magazine dated 13-4-2018


When they arrived on the Malabar Coast, the Portuguese noted at least 78 extant church communities closely interwoven with the local community in different parts of Kerala. Quilon, Angamaly, Kaduthuruthy and Cranganore (now known as Kodungallur) had the largest population of Saint Thomas Christians in Kerala. Giovanni Empoli, who came to Quilon in 1503, estimated that there were more than three thousand St.Thomas Christians in Quilon alone.[6]

On both sides of the 76 centimetres (30 in) long by 51 centimetres (20 in) wide cross on the altar of Kadamattom Church, in Pahlavi script, are written two big sentences and in the centre a small sentence, which Pahlavi linguist, Jamshed Modi translated as: "I have come to this nation from Ninevah as a bird. Mar Sapor writes, the forgiving Miseha (God Jesus) who saved me from persecution".

Though the Synod of Diamper in 1599 proclaimed Mar Sabor and Mar Proth heretics, the Christians of Malankara (Kerala) respected them.

"According to decisions of Synod of Diamper these saints (Mar Sabore and Mar Proth) of Malankara Nazranis were considered as schismatics and the churches the established were wrongly proclaimed to be established by St. Thomas."

Mar Sabor (also known as Mar Abo) gained the necessary rights from the local ruler of Kadamattom to build a church there. Volume three of the ten-volume Viswavijnanakosam (written in Malayalam), mentions the following about the history of Kadamattom Church and Mar Sabor: "Kadamattom church was founded by Mar Abo who was a holy man with knowledge of medical sciences and powers to perform miracles. He established the church in the forest regions of Kadamattom in the 40th year of Kollam Era. He stayed there at first in a small home with a mother and a son. Afterwards he left for Thevalakara to visit an influential and reputed Nambuthiri family who were traditional ophthalmologists to the royal families in the adjoining area. This family is still known as Thevalakara Vaidyan family and most of their members retain the surname Vaidyan. Another version about the history of the Vaidyan family is that the Vaidyan family had prowess in traditional medicine." Vaidyan is not a caste name. Vaidyan is a Tamil/Malayalm word for physician.

Translation from Malayalam

"The intelligent Kulothunga Cholan with a mighty army attacked Chera and Pandya. Inspired by his successes, Kulothunga led his army north and attacked Kollam. In 999 AD Rajaraja Cholan defeated the Chera army. ......Again in 1005 AD Rajarajachola attacked and captured Kollam, Kodungallur.... In 1028 AD again a large Chola army under Rajathiraja Cholan captured and killed a large portion of Kerala and its people. The Chola edict states that the Venad king was also killed in this war. To escape from the cruel Chola army the people of Kerala (Chera) sought refuge in the mountains and nearby areas."


The Malankara Orthodox Church and Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church celebrate their Feast "Vrishchikam 19" based on Malayalam Calendar, At Thevalakkara Church and Kadamattom church celebrats his feast from 30 January to 9 February in every year.[] In Syro Malabar Church on ?


  1. ^ "Mar" (Syriac: "lord") is an espiscopal title used in the Malabar churches and in West Asia, while "Sapor" (Syriac: Shapur) and "Prodh" (Syriac: Firuz) are alternative names used in the Sasanian Empire in the 4-5th centuries AD. A Christian grant made by the Kollam ruler dating to about 824 AD bears the name "Maruvan Sapir Iso", which is believed to be an amalgamation of "Mar Sapor" and "Mar Prodh".[7]


  1. ^ Kerala government website Kolla varsham attributed to the arrival of Mar Sabro is not correct.2010)Archived 2007-11-21 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ In the Travancore State Manual, Ch: XIII, pp. 49-50, by Sri T. K. Velu Pillai according to keralainfoservice
  3. ^ Pillai, T. K. Velu, Travancore State Manual, p. 52.
  4. ^ 'K Sivasankaran Nair, venadinte parinamam ? ?, DC books, pp. 28-29.
  5. ^ Aiyya, V. V. Nagom, State Manual, p. 244.
  6. ^ K. S. Mathew; Teotónio R. de Souza; Pius Malekandathil (2001). "The Portuguese and the St.Thomas Christians : 1500-1570". The Portuguese And The Socio-Cultural Changes In India, 1500-1800. Institute for Research in Social Sciences and Humanities, MESHAR. p. 128. ISBN 978-81-900166-6-7.
  7. ^ Susan Bayly (2004). Saints, Goddesses and Kings: Muslims and Christians in South Indian Society, 1700-1900. Cambridge University Press. p. 264. ISBN 978-0-521-89103-5.


  • Narayan, M. G. S., Chera-Pandya conflict in the 8th-9th centuries which led to the birth of Venad: Pandyan History seminar, Madurai University, 1971.
  • Narayan M. G. S., Cultural Symbiosis, p. 33.
  • L. K. Anantha Krishna Iyer, State Manual, pp. 50, 52.
  • Bernard Thoma Kathanar, Marthoma Christyanikal, lines 23, 24.
  • Z. M. Paret, Malankara Nazranikal, vol. 1.
  • The Viswavijnanakosam (Malayalam) Vol. 3, pp. 523, 534.
  • Travancore Archaeological Series (T.A.S.) Vol. 6, p. 15.
  • Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, Keralathinde Eruladanja Edukal, pp. 64, 112, 117.
  • Diaries and writings of Mathai Kathanar, the 24th generation priest of Thulaserry Manapurathu, based on the ancestral documents and Thaliyolagrandha handed down through generations.
  • The handwritten diaries of Pulikottil Mar Dionyius (former supreme head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and Chitramezhuthu KM Varghese).

External links

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