The term “Catholicos” is derived from the Greek word katholikos which means “the Universal or General”. The title seems to have arisen sometime after the establishment of the five patriarchs (of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem). The Catholicos of the East is the title of the autonomous Primate of the East whose succession is to the See of St. Thomas the Apostle, and who has a spiritual primacy of honor over all churches of the East. He is the supreme head of the Indian Orthodox Church and he is called the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan. Two titles for a single individual are given with separate responsibilities. The Catholicos of the East consecrates Bishops for the Orthodox Church of the East, presides over the Episcopal Synod, declares its decisions and implements them, conducts administration as the President of the Holy Synod and consecrates the Holy Mooron (Oil) and consecrating bishops. The Malankara Metropolitan is the head of the Malankara Church, the President of the Malankara Syrian Christian Association and the Managing Committee. The prime jurisdiction regarding the temporal ecclesiastical and spiritual administration of the Malankara Church is vested in the Malankara Metropolitan subject to the provisions of the Church constitution.
The Catholicate of the East was re-located from Persia, and established in India by H.H. Abdul Messiah, the Patriarch of Antioch in 1912, when H.H. Baselious Paulose I was ordained as the first Catholicos of the Indian Orthodox Church, at the St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Niranam (Niranam Valiyapally). The present Catholicos is His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews III, 9th Catholicos of the East and 22nd Malankara Metropolitan.
H.H. Baselios Marthoma Mathews III
His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Mathews III was enthroned as the Catholicos of the East & Malankara Metropolitan (the Supreme Head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India) on Friday, 15th October 2021. His Holiness is the 92nd Primate on the Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas.
His Holiness was born on 12 February 1949 to Mr Cherian Anthrayos of Mattathil family, being a member of St Peters Church, Vazhoor. After his school education, he joined Kerala University and passed his BSc Chemistry. After his BSc, he joined Orthodox Seminary, Kottayam, and had his GST degree. His Holiness took his BD degree from the Serampore University and did his higher studies in Theology at Theological Academy, Leningrad, Russia. Thereupon he joined Oriental Institute, Rome, and took his MTh and PhD from there. His Holiness was ordained a deacon in 1976 and a priest in 1978 by HH Baselios Mathews I. His Holiness was escalated to the post of an Episcopa on 30 April 1991 at a function at Parumala, and metropolitan in 1993. He is a well-known teacher and a faculty member of the Orthodox Seminary, Kottayam. A philanthropist, he works relentlessly for the uplift of the poor, especially women. He has started many ventures to help give employment opportunities to women from the economically backward classes. His Holiness was also served the Holy Episcopal Synod as its secretary.
His Holiness has authored a few devotional and contemplative books in Malayalam.